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Bengals Depth Chart Instant Reaction: Michael Jordan Starting, Jackson Carman on Third Team

Cincinnati revealed their first depth chart of 2021 on Monday.

CINCINNATI — Joe Burrow suffered a season-ending knee injury last November and that put the Bengals' offensive line in the crosshairs of national and local criticism. 

Would the organization do enough to protect its' star quarterback? 

They signed Riley Reiff to play right tackle and selected three offensive linemen in 2021 NFL Draft. On paper, the offensive line should be better, but did they do enough? 

A lot of fans would say no following Monday's release of the Bengals' first official depth chart. 

Michael Jordan was listed as the starting right guard. Yes, the same guy that started at left guard last season. The same Jordan that was thrown into Burrow on that fateful November day at Fed Ex Field in Washington

Jordan has been getting first-team reps at right guard, so it isn't a major surprise, but the optics are awful. 

The 23-year-old may end up becoming a quality starter in this league, but he hasn't played to that level in his first two seasons. He's struggled in training camp during 11-on-11s and 1-on-1 sessions.

Listing Jordan as a starter is going to be met with criticism. Until he proves he's not only their best option, but a quality lineman—that's going to be the case. 

Jordan is listed ahead of veteran Xavier Su'a-Filo, who is second on the depth chart. Jackson Carman is third behind both Jordan and Su'a-Filo. The Bengals used their second-round pick (46th overall) on Carman in the 2021 NFL Draft. 

The Clemson product has gotten off to a slow start in camp, but that doesn't mean he can't still push for a starting job. 

Once upon a time a rookie named Joe Mixon was listed as the Bengals' third-string running back. He was behind Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard on the their first official depth chart. 

The only problem with that analogy is Mixon had flashed in practice. You could see his speed, size and quickness. It was obvious that he was the most talented back on the roster. 

The same can't be said for Carman. He hasn't flashed. He hasn't had a "wow" moment in training camp yet. That doesn't mean it isn't going to happen, but it's been a struggle for him to get acclimated to life in the NFL. 

"The game doesn't wait for anybody so you always have to be prepared," Carman said earlier this month. "We are all brothers and we are all in together and we all feel the same way. We would want the best guy to go out and so we're all just competing to be the best versions of ourselves, and however that pans out after that is not up to us."

Jordan did what Carman is hoping to do as a rookie. He was listed with the third-team on the first depth chart and ultimately started for the Bengals in 2019. 

The biggest difference is expectation. The Bengals expected Carman to come in right away and compete for a starting spot. They raved about his size, speed and athleticism. They thought he could be a day one starter. 

"He's gonna come in and compete for a starting job," offensive line coach Frank Pollack said on draft night

Carman has less than five weeks to prove Pollack, Zac Taylor and the rest of this organization right. 

Being third on the first depth chart could be the push he needed. Carman wasn't even the highest-rated rookie offensive lineman. 

Fourth-rounder D'Ante Smith is the backup left guard behind Quinton Spain. 

Carman is off to a slow start, but he will get plenty of opportunities throughout the preseason to earn a starting job. Will he make the most of his chances?

Make sure you bookmark AllBengals for the latest training camp news, including exclusive interviews, highlights and so much more!

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