The Cincinnati Bengals went out of their way to trade up and select North Carolina center Russell Bodine with their fourth-round pick. After the selection, Bengals coaches gushed about Bodine's potential, even going as far as to say they almost picked him in the third round.
The thought was that Bodine would be made the starting center, especially with Kyle cook having been cut this offseason. That might not be the case, at least for the time being.
Veteran Mike Pollak figures to be the first center when the practices start Tuesday, but fourth-rounder Russell Bodine is coming in with a big endorsement from offensive line coach Paul Alexander. Running back Giovani Bernard, Bodine’s North Carolina teammate, said the Bengals asked him about Bodine before the draft.
This is how it should be. Rookies shouldn't be handed a starting job, and Marvin Lewis has rarely done so anyhow. Pollak signed a new deal this offseason with the assurance that he'd be given a chance to start in 2014 after starting five games at guard in 2013.
That doesn't mean Bodine won't eventually become the starter, and his former UNC teammate, Giovani Bernard, is glad to have him on his team again.
"I told them he’s an aggressive guy, a guy that you definitely want on your team," Bernard said. "His attitude and how he played and his aggression kind of translated to everyone on the offensive line. You could see when he played his mentality and how much he wanted to have big plays here and there. It showed throughout the offensive line. I think he’s a great addition to our team."
Bodine vs. Pollak will be one of the more intriguing position battles this preseason.