Many things have transpired for the Cincinnati Bengals during the Marvin Lewis era--especially with the many rookies who have come and gone in the past twelve years. Before the Bengals re-focused their efforts in the draft to make that their bread and butter, the team's head coach had a bit of a tendency to shy away from starting bright-eyed youngsters from the get-go. That has changed a bit in recent years.
Part of the reason that Lewis has changed that centers around the fact that the Bengals have been searching for more responsible guys in the draft with less personal baggage. Another could be that they have adopted more of a "may the best man win" at positions, regardless of tenure. Other times it's out of sheer necessity, as was the case with A.J. Green and Andy Dalton.
Running back Jeremy Hill and center Russell Bodine were two players that the Bengals snagged in the first four rounds of the draft. The picks showed the team's desire to improve on their running attack that sported a paltry 3.6 yards per carry last year. Apparently, the two fresh faces on offense are impressing Lewis and offensive coordinator Hue Jackson enough that they are getting first-team reps in minicamp.
Coley Harvey of ESPN made the observation on Wednesday:
Back out here for #Bengals #minicamp. Rookies C Russell Bodine and RB Jeremy Hill continue getting action with first-team offense.— Coley Harvey (@ColeyHarvey) June 11, 2014
The hosts at Inside the Jungle all agreed that these two have the best opportunity to start right away out of all of the 2014 rookies. It isn't a knock on the others from the class, but more that Bodine and Hill exemplify some traits within the formula that I mentioned above (yes, I'm well aware of Hill's past legal issues).
Most agree that Hill will be used frequently in the offense this year, but it's the interior part of the line that is a bit in flux. Mike Pollak, a center in college, has only played guard in the NFL. He played in a handful of games last season and was effective enough in the relief of the injured Kevin Zeitler and Clint Boling that the team brought him back on a new contract. The thought was that the center job was Pollak's to lose, but that might not be the case, as the Bengals have shown their affinity to Bodine.
Boling is still recovering from a late-season knee injury from December and might be a candidate for the PUP List. If that does occur, we could see Bodine at center and Pollak at left guard. The good news is that there are a variety of options to help with the running game renaissance project.