CINCINNATI — The Bengals have one starting spot open on their re-made offensive line.
Jackson Carman might be the favorite to start at left guard, but he hasn't won the job yet. After an underwhelming rookie year, the former second round pick believes he's in position to play much better this season.
"A year of experience," Carman said swiftly when asked how he's different from a year ago.
Carman made six starts and was on the field for 42% of the Bengals regular season snaps. Cincinnati took him with the 46th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
The 22-year-old was supposed to be part of the solution last season, but Joe Burrow was sacked an NFL high 70 times (including playoffs).
"I learned a lot, a tremendous amount," Carman said of his rookie year. "Anything from off-field stuff and how to be a professional to being on the field learning techniques and just learning more socially, interacting with my teammates, my coaches. I learned a lot."
Carman will have to beat out fourth round pick Cordell Volson, Hakeem Adeniji and D'Ante Smith for the starting left guard job, but he appears to have the inside track and is currently taking first-team reps.
Carman is much closer to 100% after dealing with back issues a year ago. He spent a month in Dallas training with offensive line guru Duke Manyweather.
"We have different things I've been working on," Carman said. "To be able to work with him (Duke), be able to do a lot of O-line specific stuff and really helped build my body."
Carman weighs 325 pounds currently, which is right around where Frank Pollack and the coaching staff wants him.
He had weight and conditioning issues at Clemson, so a new diet and workout regimen could bode well for his chances of succeeding in the NFL.
"It was a combination of everything: diet, nutrition, exercise, mobility, all those things," Carman said. "The diet hasn't really been that hard at all. I really enjoy food. I'm kind of a foodie, so it's been kind of a good process for me."
Now the Bengals are hoping he seizes control of the left guard job and never lets it go.
"I'm just competing as hard as I possibly can and doing whatever my coach asks me," he said. "Whatever my coaches ask me to do, wherever they want to put me at, I'm going to perform to the best of my ability."
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