Camp report: Pollak getting to know center again

Posted Aug 12, 2014

The Bengals padded up one more time Tuesday before playing the Jets Saturday at 7 p.m. at Paul Brown Stadium and they unveiled their healthiest offensive line yet.

The Bengals padded up one more time Tuesday before playing the Jets Saturday at 7 p.m. at Paul Brown Stadium and they unveiled their healthiest offensive line yet.

Right tackle Andre Smith looks to be in the last days of his concussion protocol after suiting up but not participating in team drills. The left side of the line was intact with tackle Andrew Whitworth and guard Clint Boling. And Mike Pollak continued to do what he’s been doing the last couple of days and playing center with the second group.

Pollak (knee) didn’t work all spring and after coming back in training camp, had to take another week off because of swelling. Given that Pollak is viewed as a valuable backup at both guard and center, and given that they’re starting a rookie center in Russell Bodine, that had been a bit unnerving.

But after Tuesday’s practice Pollak, otherwise known as The Insurance Policy,  reported he felt good and is anxious to see how he comes out of Saturday’s game.

“I come out and ask where I am each day,” Pollack said.  “Whatever gets me in a role to get on the field. I just want to play where I can. I’m later in my career , I know my days are numbered. As long as I can get in there, that’s what I care about.”

The Colts took Pollak, an Arizona State center, in the second round of the 2008 draft. Since they had Pro Bowl center Jeff Saturday, they switched Pollak to guard and even though he feels he’s a more natural center he’s only played it in two blowouts during his previous six seasons in the NFL.

New offensive coordinator Hue Jackson’s style is a  throwback for him but he’s been working intently at it.

“The one thing is when we go up tempo, no huddle, that’s kind of what we did in Indy and it's just getting that mindset,” Pollak said. “It’s not going to be an every game thing, that’s just one of the differences from last year.”

Pollak thinks Bodine is “going to be a good player down the road,’ and is impressed with how much he’s taken on. Yes, he has helped him with his shot-gun snaps that go awry on occasion. He understands why Bodine has been hesitant to adopt some of his style.

“When I got to Indy, Jeff Saturday kind of changed how I snapped the ball,” Pollak said. “I’m not going to push it on him. Each guy does their own little thing. It’s like  throwing mechanics. You want the guy to have his own mechanics. But if you can tweak something to help him, you do it.”

PLAYER OF THE DAY: Tight end Jermaine Gresham was a factor right from the first team snap of the day when he mixed it up a bit with middle linebacker Rey Maualuga. Voice of the Bengals Dan Hoard charted him for seven catches in the team drills.

He’s one of the reasons they think they can survive the Marvin Jones broken foot the first three weeks of the season. Gresham can line up outside or in the slot while stretching defenses, as can tight end Tyler Eifert.

He made some big catches in the No. 1 offense’s script. On one first-and-10 play, quarterback Andy Dalton got in trouble in the pocket, but kept the play alive sprinting to the perimeter and Gresham came back to help him on the sidelines, beating SAM linebacker Emmanuel Lamur just before stepping out-of-bounds.

On third-and-five inside the 10, Gresham got inside safety Danieal Manning and kept running to the flag in the corner and Dalton hit him in stride for a touchdown.

When they went goal line on third down from the 2, Dalton was three of five, the last a touchdown to a wide open Gresham off play action.

PLAY OF THE DAY: It was in a seven-on-seven drill, but it just shows you how smart and good cornerback Leon Hall is. Working against Dalton and three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green, Hall made a lightning quick interception in the middle of the field before Green could make his one final burst on a deep route.

“I was able to read Andy’s eyes….The defense we were playing made it a little easier for me,” Hall said. “I didn’t have to worry about the deep threat. I had help over the top.”

QUOTE OF THE DAY: After covering a pass, cornerback Terence Newman looked to the sidelines and noted a NFL Network cameraman with flowing black hair and a major-league moustache.

“Hey Russell Brand,” Newman said. “I love your movies.”

SLANTS AND SCREENS: Cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick (hip) didn’t work. Defensive tackle Domata Peko dressed but didn’t work as he’s in the final stages of the concussion protocol. Defensive tackle Brandon Thompson (ill) didn’t work, either, and the other to tackle, Geno Atkins, didn’t dress….

So the two D-tackles for the 1s were Devon Still and Christo Bilukidi, the two guys that seem to be in the hunt for that fourth and final tackle spot…

Right tackle Marshall Newhouse left in the field on a cart with an unknown injury late in practice…

Dalton, an estimated 22 of 35 passing, didn’t have the sharpest of days, but chalk up much of that to active defense. They were particularly disruptive with blitzes.


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