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Russell Bodine' struggles showing Andy Dalton's growing leadership

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Russell Bodine's struggles have helped show the growth in Andy Dalton, but they cannot continue if he's to keep his starting center job for the long term.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The struggles of Russell Bodine have been one of the biggest developments in Bengals training camp thus far.

What most people are seeing and hearing about are his frequent bad snaps in practice. While that's never a good thing, it has helped show a significant development in the most important player on offense.

Andy Dalton has clearly taken a step forward with his leadership in 2015. That's been evident when he's chided Bodine in the middle of practice several times for not executing the snap properly. It may seem like it's not a big deal for Dalton to be doing this, or something most QBs should already be doing, but it's simply not something Dalton has shown much of to this point in his NFL career.

As offensive coordinator Hue Jackson told ESPN, this is Dalton's offense, and he needs to take command of it:

"It's his offense and he's taking control," Jackson said. "I don't think he's playing around with it. He knows that [the snap issue] exists, and he's not going to let it exist. There were no more of those after that."

Perhaps now Dalton is feeling comfortable enough in his own skin to take command of the offense and hold everyone else accountable for their mistakes. That's what any successful team needs from its franchise QB.

As for Bodine, bad snaps are just part of his issues though. If you watched him in the preseason opener, you would have seen how Bodine was routinely pushed back into the Bengals backfield by defensive lineman with relative ease.

On three different plays among the 17 snaps he played, Bodine was pushed into the backfield and his man sacked Johns Johnson, pressured Andy Dalton and hit Giovani Bernard for a loss on those three plays.

This also raises the question as to whether Clint Boling or Kevin Zeitler will be moved to center to supplant Bodine. Both played some center in college and had reps as a center in the NFL. To this point though, neither has gotten reps as a center in this year's training camp. It's been mostly Bodine and third-year man T.J. Johnson.

Speaking of, Johnson hasn't done much to impress in camp either and has even had some bad snaps of his own. Don't expect the Bengals to bench Bodine for Johnson.

Undrafted free agents Trey Hopkins and Chris Jasperse have also gotten reps at center. They looked decent in Friday's preseason opener, but not enough so that they warrant consideration for the starting job.

At this point, the Bengals' options behind Bodine look grim to say the least. That's unfortunate, because to this point in camp, Bodine has played like a guy who needs to be fighting for his job and not have it handed it to him .

Unless the Bengals want to start experimenting with a better lineman like Boling or Zeitler at center, don't expect Bodine to get a serious run for his job.