GEORGETOWN, Ky. — Make it another position for Clint Boling.
Boling, the fourth-round pick out of Georgia, started at least nine games at three different positions for the Bulldogs. Both guard spots, right tackle, and now Bengals offensive line coach Paul Alexander has literally given him the ball the last three practices here at Georgetown College and put him at center with the second group. Around these parts, that's almost as impressive as A.J. Green leaping for the ball, since Alexander moves around rookies once every solar eclipse.
"It's pretty impressive for a rookie guard to jump over to center and to know the calls and be able to make them," says left tackle Andrew Whitworth. "Paul never moves rookies, so to move him inside shows you how much he trusts him."
The Bengals were drawn to the 6-5, 310-pound Boling during the draft because of his brains and his technique. There may be some concern about his ballast, but the coaches have been extremely impressed with how he doled it out here while mastering the playbook.
Throw in that Boling never snapped a ball for real until he arrived here and Whitworth continues to be amazed. Back home in Atlanta during the lockout Boling snapped on his own to quarterbacks Matthew Stafford and Charlie Whitehurst during informal workouts and he toyed with it during his college days and got some pointers along the way, but never like this.
"The No. 1 thing is to make sure the quarterback gets the snap," Boling said after Monday's walkthrough. "Then, get everybody going in the right direction; make sure everybody gets the calls. Then, I've got to make sure I block the guy. It's not something I'm used to and I'm still learning a lot of technique. It's definitely a lot different than guard or tackle. I just want to make sure the more positions I play the more likely I can make the roster and help us win."
Boling doesn't have to worry about making the roster even though he's listed as the third center behind Kyle Cook and Reggie Stephens and the third left guard behind Nate Livings and Max Jean-Gilles. Traditionally the Bengals have tried to gobble up one roster spot with a guy that can be a No. 2 center as well as a No. 2 or No. 1 guard. Since they spent a fourth on Boling, they see him as a starter at some point in the next year or two.
"I think he may know more about the offense than I did," said Whitworth of his rookie camp, when Alexander found him worthy to work at both guard and tackle. "To know center, you have to know everybody."
DHANI IN SPIRIT: Second-year WILL linebacker Vincent Rey's jersey exchange with free-agent WILL backer Thomas Howard and taking the jersey of Dhani Jones didn't get nearly the play of The Ocho's switch to Aaron Hernandez's 85 in New England.
But it says a little something about Rey, Howard and Jones.
Howard wore No. 53 in Oakland while starting for four seasons, so Rey would have given it to him for nothing. But Howard made what Rey called "a little financial deal that I don't want to get into. I knew he's an NFL vet, that's the number he wanted, and I had no problems giving him the number. I would have given it to him out of respect. I know how it goes."
Then when No. 57 appeared in his locker, the jersey of Jones, the unsigned defensive leader of this team the past four seasons, Rey recoiled.
"I didn't want to wear it out of respect," he said. "But that's the number the equipment guys gave me, the number head coach Marvin Lewis wanted me to have. I took it as an honor to wear a number like that. I texted Dhani to let him know and it's all good with him."
While Rey, an undrafted rookie out of Duke, labored on the practice squad last year until he was called up for the last four games, Jones rented out a room to him in his downtown apartment. And Rey watched his every move.
"He gave me a good deal," Rey said. "I don't think he thought he was a mentor to me, but I'm the kind of guy that just likes to watch and learn from people. He always does the right thing. Obviously I watched his passion and intensity on the field and I watched how he took care of his body. Now, that's what I do."
Rey is hustling for a job. As you can see, a hard guy not to like, plus he's smart and the Bengals liked what he did on special teams in the two games he did play. In his debut he had two special teams tackles against the Chargers. He knows this preseason is everything and he's keeping in mind those pregame pep talks Jones gave the linebackers.
"He'd get us hyped every week," Rey said. "He'd tell us to play every play like it's our last."