5 matchups to watch during Bengals preseason opener vs. Cardinals
Zach Carter vs Will Hernandez
Replacing the seven sacks, Larry Ogunjobi produced last year for the Bengals will be no mean feat. B.J. Hill was given the contract that suggests he must shoulder most of the burden from the 3-Tech position. However, rookie Zach Carter has been showing out in practice, and his inside-outside versatility has garnered plenty of attention.
The Bengals will be keen for him to see some live action, and the likelihood is he will line up across from the Cardinals’ free agent addition Will Hernandez, who has plenty to prove. The former second-round pick left the Giants to sign a one-year, $1.2m deal with the Cards, hoping to test free agency next year after an improved performance.
After a decent rookie campaign, things went downhill at the Giants for Hernandez, and he posted blocking grades of below 60 per PFF in 2021. The hope will be a change of scenery will benefit the right guard. His most significant trait is his nastiness and ability to impose himself on defensive fronts, but it has little effect if the basics aren’t right.
A defender like Carter could pose several questions to Hernandez. The physical battle will be interesting, considering the Cardinals lineman has somewhere between 30-40 pounds extra bulk than Carter. That said, Carter’s experience as an outside pass rusher means he has the speed and hand quickness to cause trouble in the passing game.