The door is open for rookie Cordell Volson to try to grab the starting left tackle position with Jackson Carman out due to COVID, and Sunday’s game will be an important test.
It’s never a guarantee that starting a preseason game will put a player against the opponent’s best competition, because often teams value those looks differently. But whether the Giants use starters on their defensive line or second-string players, Volson will likely see stiffer competition than when he entered the game in the second half last week against Arizona.
Volson is expected to start after a strong debut last week, which helped him into the first-team attack this week while Carman was out or limited. He has been out since Thursday but was barely getting snaps with the first team earlier in the week.
“He’s hungry, the right guy,” La’el Collins said of Volson. “He has created all the right things. He’s physical, he’s tough. He shows all great qualities and loves to learn. Definitely one of the great beginners I’ve been around. I knew from day one, I mean he can be whatever he’s going to be, it’s all up to him.”
2. Depleted offensive line
The Bengals have just three offensive tackles available to play Sunday, as right tackle La’el Collins and left tackle Jonah Williams are expected to be among the players not participating. Isaiah Prince went down with a biceps injury Thursday and is week-to-week, Taylor said, but D’Ante Smith returned from a back injury this week and should be among the three available.
Hakeem Adeniji and Devin Cochran are the other two tackles who will get playing time – and Taylor noted that all three available guys will get plenty of opportunities.
Aside from the injury, depth on the offensive line remains a concern after the unit struggled in the opener.
3. Progress to Dax Hill
With veteran Jessie Bates still out of training camp, the Bengals are drafting starting safety Dax Hill to take his place, but it’s a difficult balance to protect a potential starter and also give a first-year player reps needed to be NFL ready. .
Hill looked impressive in his preseason debut last week with two near-interceptions, but when asked what’s the best way to progress him ahead of Week 1, Taylor said it’s not necessarily about stretching him more into games preseason. The Bengals still have plenty of time to get him ready for a full game if needed.
“Practice next week with the Rams is helpful,” Taylor said. “…That’s going to be great work for a lot of these young players, to see different types of players that they’re going to go against, different schemes. I think it’s exciting for a guy like Dax to be able to see another band. This weekend with the Giants and next with the Rams are good opportunities to continue to accelerate his growth.”
4. Special teams battles
Special teams continues to be an area to watch in these preseason games. In the opener, neither punter Kevin Huber nor Drue Chrisman particularly stood out, and they rotated in as handlers on Evan McPherson’s field goals with no problem. Clark Harris still looks ahead in the long competition with Cal Adomitis.
Pooka Williams was cut this week after he closed out the game. The Bengals struggled with punt/punt returns last year, and special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons wants to be sure whoever handles those duties has good enough hands to handle the ball. Trent Taylor has the punt return duties unless someone else can prove himself better, and Chris Evans is looking like a solid punt return option.
5. Other noted injuries
Defensive end Khalid Kareem is expected to make his preseason debut after dealing with a shoulder injury early in camp.
Taylor said edge rusher Joseph Ossai won’t play more than the preseason opener (four) as he continues to manage his return from knee and wrist surgeries in 2021, but he will see some teams special and protection. snaps.
“It’s just getting him out of his past injuries,” Taylor said. “He’s a guy who goes really hard, every rep and so we’re going to limit him in this game. He’s done a lot of reps. Just easing him into the game. We plan on having a guy like that be critical for us this year, so you want to manage those guys in games.”
Other players working through injuries include cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt (core), tight end Drew Sample (knee) and linebacker Markus Bailey (hamstring). Neither will play on Sunday, although Bailey should be ready to go after that. Taylor-Britt is out for the remainder of camp after undergoing surgery Monday, but Taylor said he’s optimistic about those results.
Bengals at Giants, 7 p.m., NFL Network, 700, 1530, 102.7, 104.7