Russell Bodine performed a tough task in 2014 during his rookie season. He played -- and started -- in all 17 games the Bengals played last season (including the playoffs). And though Pro Football Focus ranked him 33rd out of 41 qualified centers in the NFL last season, and scored him with negative grades in pass protection and run blocking, he still was consistent and helped the Bengals' offensive line to be one of the most dominant position groups in the NFL last season. After the season concluded many Bengals fans went from doubting the fourth round pick to accepting him.
Bodine knows his 2014 campaign wasn't perfect, and now he's worried about one thing going into the 2015 season.
"I certainly didn't play as well as I would have liked to," Bodine told the Cincinnati Enquirer. "That's how it goes. You go out here this year, in your second year and try to make a big jump. That's really the only thing I'm worrying about."
With a year of NFL experience under his belt and with more than a year of work on the Bengals' playbook, Bodine is becoming more comfortable and familiar with his role on the Bengals. "There's a whole new comfort level that allows you to worry about football and not learning. Obviously you are learning some stuff, but you are not learning the playbook, not going out there on every play trying to get that. There's a whole new comfort level that helps you make the jump," he said.
As the youngest starter on the Bengals offensive line, it's time for Bodine to take that jump and his second season should better show what he's capable of bringing to the Bengals.
And, Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson agrees, per the Cincinnati Enquirer:
"I'm looking to see more from the whole group but definitely him because he's the youngest. In order for us to get better and to take the next jump, he has to take the jump along with all the players, but mainly the young players – Jeremy (Hill), him. They got to really start establishing their identities every day."
Bodine's fear of whether he can make that "big jump" is the same fear of many Bengals fans. Hopefully he successfully completes the leap.