2. Backup offensive line
As much as we would like for the offensive line to no longer be a topic of conversation, it appears that it still needs to be discussed. A big gamble the Bengals are taking is that different is better. It is not.
The coaches decided to go with Cody Ford and Max Scharping over Hakeem Adeniji. The logic behind this could be that the team has enough tackles and needs depth on the interior.
Ford, who was brought in to compete for the right tackle spot, displayed enough to show that he should not be considered for that role. It is easy to wonder if he should be seen as a better option at guard than Jackson Carman, Scharping, or Adeniji.
Scharping sticking with the team should be seen as a slight upset, even though most do not view it as such. He played well enough in the preseason at center and guard to show he could play in a pinch. However, he did not show enough to ease concerns about his play from his time with the Texans or his limited yet crucial snaps with the Bengals last season.
The Bengals chose to go with the upside of offensive tackle D’Ante Smith. The coaches love his potential and what he could bring in a backup swing tackle role.
However, injuries have cost him valuable time and experience. This year is no different. Smith is now dealing with a wrist injury. There has been no update as of yet on his status.
Like the backup quarterback position, Cincinnati must be somewhat concerned with the reserves along the offensive line. The room will change again once La’el Collins comes off the PUP list. That is something to look forward to, as fans and coaches will feel better about him in a backup role than some of the other options on the team. Because he can play tackle and guard, that could spell the end of Scharping’s or Ford’s stint on the roster.
The Bengals are gambling on relying on backups they would be wise to hedge against. Let’s hope the starters remain healthy.