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Soon, two big impact defenders could return to the Bengals

Remember 2005. Not to feel all fuzzy supporting a team that finished 11-5. No. Remember because there seems to be standard in that season that could, could, see the return of two critical players that were expected to be the team's foundation on defense.

"Trust me, I'm not going to do anything stupid," (David) Pollack said earlier this week. "If someone says there is a 50 percent chance I'll break my neck [again], I'll never go anywhere near a field again."
- Quote on his upcoming examination that could resume or end his career.

And it's not like Pollack is waiting around. The guy is working out with the optimistic expectation he'll return.

"He's probably in better shape from a cardiovascular standpoint than at any point in his life," says Clif Marshall, who oversees the workouts as director of the Ignition Athletics Performance Group. "And obviously he still has the agility that makes him a special player."

Gil Brandt, czar of the NFL scouting combine, listened to David Pollack's time in the three-cone drill and crunched the number before spitting out the verdict.

"You have a time like 6.69 seconds for a defensive lineman and there is a high percentage that guy will make the Pro Bowl," Brandt says from Dallas.

That's not Pollack's time from 2005, when he authored one of the greatest combine workouts in history. It's lower. And it's from Friday's session of his daily regimen that now includes helping college prospects prepare for the combine as well as taking another step forward to his return to the NFL.

Whether or not you think he should return, is a waste of time. Obviously, he'll make the decision that's best for him. As a fan, I hope he comes back. While he struggled early converting from a celebrated defensive end to a linebacker (who wouldn't struggle with that transition?), he came on late in 2005 -- including a good Wild Card showing. But I don't expect him to resume his late 2005 success right away. Either way, he's a better option that what we put on the field in 2007.

There's another guy that's seeing the chance at a comeback. Odell Thurman. The decision from the Chancellor's office should be soon. And it's unlikely the NFL will deny him another season to circumvent a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission allegedly violating The Americans with Disabilities Act that prevents "discrimination against anyone who has an impairment, including a drug or alcohol addiction."

And if the NFL declines Thurman a third season, then we'll know for sure that the player's union holds little non-monetary interest with the people they represent. It's not like they've gone out of their way to back retired players. They truly are the most useless organization in professional sports.

IF Pollack and Thurman return, if Landon Johnson and Madieu Williams re-sign, then the Bengals will surely look to rebuild the defensive line with either a defensive end or tackle through the draft. Well, that was to be the case no matter what happens with the above. The Bengals broke camp with seven linebackers on their 53-man roster. And if we presume the same, and that Pollack and Thurman return, the linebackers would look something like this:

  1. Ahmad Brooks
  2. Landon Johnson (if he re-signs)
  3. Rashad Jeanty (ER-FA)
  4. Odell Thurman
  5. David Pollack
  6. Dhani Jones
  7. Caleb Miller (possible re-sign for special teams and depth)

There's also a suggestion to keep in mind: that Pollack could return as a defensive end rather than a linebacker to limit serious collisons.

Now, we can presume that the defense is slowly coming around, along with a proven defensive coordinator, that the Bengals would go after some offensive players -- such as running back and several offensive line positions. But who knows. Since joining the Bengals, Marvin Lewis has been difficult to predict.

Either way, if Pollack and Thurman return, then immediately the Bengals defense is improved.