Mike Pollak impressed with Russell Bodine, who may be suited better at guard

Joe Robbins

As the Bengals continue OTAs, one player standing out is rookie offensive lineman Russell Bodine. Drafted in the fourth round out of UNC, Bodine is expected to contribute, if not start as a rookie.

That could come at center, where he'd compete with Mike Pollak for the starting role. While Pollak sits out due to injury, he's been impressed with what he's seen from Bodine.

Mike Pollak said he hasn't really been told if he's going to be at center or guard and he says that's fine because he'll be ready to do both. But he won't do it until training camp as he rests a knee that flared up during offseason training. He says he's watched rookie center Russell Bodine and says he's been impressed by his poise and ability to pick up the offense.

He's also impressed the coaches and they installed him as the starter Tuesday, but offensive coordinator Hue Jackson wants more.

"He's going to have to snap the ball better," Jackson said after practice.

Bodine played both guard and center at UNC, so it's possible Pollak could start at center with Bodine being the first guard off the bench if Clint Boling isn't quite ready for the start of the year while recovering from ACL surgery.

It's also possible Bodine beats Boling outright for the starting left guard job. Boling is good in pass protection, but his run blocking grade (-4.1) from PFF was the second-lowest of any Bengals lineman in 2013.

The worst grade came from center Kyle Cook (-4.3), and he's no longer on the roster.

New offensive coordinator Hue Jackson wants to run the ball more, and Bodine's greatest strength...is his strength, particularly in run blocking. Bodine was the bench press king at the NFL Combine, going 42 reps at 225 pounds.

The Bengals will tinker with different lineups in the preseason, from Bodine at center and Pollak at guard, to Pollak at center and Bodine at guard.

Unfortunately for Boling, he'll probably be watching from the sidelines for a good portion of it, and it may cost him his starting job in 2014 if Bodine does well.

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