While the Bengals offense is preparing a dizzying series of lineups in the quest to secure a starting left guard, they made it clear Tuesday the back-up tackle might not be here yet.
In the wake of left tackle Jonah Williams' torn labrum, left guard Clint Boling's retirement and back-up tackle Kent Perkins' lack of work in the spring, offensive coordinator Brian Callahan says that spot is a work in progress.
"I'm not sure what we have there. Numbers wise we're doing with Clint retiring and we haven't added anyone since so I'm sure we'll be looking to add somebody at some point," Callahan said. "We still need tackles. We need tackles for depth and tackles to compete so that will addressed I'm sure at some point."
Duke Tobin, the club's director of player personnel, is the guy looking for that backup tackle. Or "third tackle," if you prefer. But while pondering players that are cut, he'll also exhaust all in-house options. Guys like guards that have kicked out to tackle, such as John Jerry and Trey Hopkins.
"We'll have to find some. Some of the guys have to be able to play multiple positions," Tobin said. "While they're having to compete outside, they'll also have to compete inside. We're going to have to look and see. As we go through the cut-down process and look at the teams and have discussions, we'll see what if anything we can add to the group and if we add nothing, somebody in that group has to bubble up."
Jerry, Hopkins and Christian Westerman are the three vying to play left guard. But Callahan says don't lock those guys into one spot because in order to cultivate versatility you have to practice it. That's why Billy Price may be at guard occasionally when Hopkins works at center.
"They're all going to move around, they're all going to play different spots," Callahan said. "There's going to be times when Christian has to go play right guard and times Trey has to go play center. You may play Billy play guard just in case. There are always contingencies up front because you can only have so many players on your (game day) roster."
But left guard is the spot on the line and up for grabs. Callahan won't say who kicks it off Saturday, but it doesn't sound like it matters.
"Whether it's Christian one day as the "one" you'll probably see some of that and whether Trey goes in there and plays you'll probably see some of that," Callahan said. "There are going to be plenty of opportunities for those guys to compete."