Bengals offensive line coach Jim Turner, a key component in head coach Zac Taylor’s new playbook, has seen plenty of tough times in his three decades of coaching. The loss of rookie left tackle Jonah Williams for what looks to be the rest of the season certainly qualifies, but he knows the blow is cushioned because not many of his colleagues can turn to an eight-year veteran with 90 NFL starts to fill a void a month from training camp.
That’s what Turner has in Cordy Glenn, the man that moved inside to left guard for the first time in his NFL career when Williams lined up with the starters last month, three weeks after the Bengals made Williams their first-round pick at No. 11.
“We knew we wanted to have Cordy next to Jonah, whether it was tackle or guard,” Turner said Tuesday. “Cordy has been a real pro through this whole thing and we have no doubt he’ll continue to be as we move ahead. We were looking for Jonah to learn from Cordy playing next to him and he still will, but it’s going to be more now as a teacher.”
Turner loves Glenn’s size (6-6, 345 pounds) and Glenn, clearly more comfortable at tackle since he’s done it for so long, said early on he believes that the new playbook is going to make playing up front easier. But with Glenn going back to left tackle, all eyes are now on left guard. At the moment, it’s a traffic jam. Injuries to long-time starter Clint Boling and Alex Redmond, who started at right guard a year ago, have given them an iffy training camp status.
After Williams tore his labrum, the Bengals installed Christian Westerman and his two NFL starts at left guard and the newly-signed John Jerry promptly filled in behind him when he signed hours before the start of the mandatory minicamp. Other options are veteran back-up Trey Hopkins, who has two of his 21 NFL starts at left guard, and fourth-round pick Michael Jordan, the youngest Bengal at age 21.
The 6-5, 340-pound Jerry logged 32 starts for Turner at right guard in two seasons for Miami several years ago and although he didn’t play last season, Turner loves his makeup and they went after him after Williams got hurt. Turner also likes the brainy, reliable Hopkins. The first personnel move on the O-line in the offseason was tendering Hopkins a one-year, $3 million deal.
“You really like a guy like Trey Hopkins. He’s a guy that’s in the mix,” Turner said of his healthy options. “Westerman is still in the mix. Mike Jordan is a young guy and now he could end up being more of a factor. We’ll see how it plays out. John Jerry is a guy that’s been around and knows what to do in our system. He’s going to help these guys. That’s a good pickup for us.”
One of those guys may also end up backing up Glenn. Turner says Jerry has started five games at tackle and Jerry says he’s finished out games on both sides. And when they drafted Jordan they said he had the capability of kicking outside if needed.
The one break the Bengals get is they have a month to hash out another revamping of the offensive line and then have all of the preseason to get some chemistry. Turner is set with center Billy Price, right guard John Miller and right tackle Bobby Hart and with Glenn moving back to a familiar spot, they’ll try to find that left guard as soon as possible.
“It’s a tough thing. But this is what happens. This is what we do,” Turner said.
Turner, an ex-Marine, is used to toughing it out. He sees his line as now in the same position as Williams.
“It’s an obstacle. But it’s an obstacle he can overcome,” he said. “He’s going to have a full recovery, he’s going to learn a lot this year and he’s going to be a key guy in this organization for a long time.”
Take a look at some of the best images of Bengals offensive tackle Cordy Glenn.