Pollack faces long road

Updated: 4:55 p.m.

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Pollack

Ricky Hunley only knows one thing when it comes to David Pollack.

"If anybody can get through it and come back from something like this it's him; the kid is blessed," said Hunley on Friday after hearing the patient is still keeping football in his hopes.

Pollack says he has yet to make a decision on continuing his NFL career as he recovers from last week's surgery to repair a broken neck vertebra, and he called the decision "way down the road," as he prepares to go through a maze of doctors and exercises.

Those familiar with the type of surgery Pollack underwent said he's facing a six-to-nine-month recovery from now that would take his rehab into training camp. If Pollack returned this season, the best-case rehab could dictate that he might not be able to play until the latter part of the year.

But his status now officially falls into speculation because he's not going to discuss it in the near future and opted, instead, to release a statement through the Bengals.

"If I'm in the news, I want it to be because I'm helping my team on the field," Pollack said in the release. "So I hope that media and our fans will accept that temporarily, I'm declining interview requests. It will be very helpful to me and my family at this point if I can concentrate on my rehab and start thinking about the decisions I'll have in the future."

Hunley has an idea what Pollack wants to do in the immediate future.

"He just wants to get back into some kind of normal shape," Hunley said. "He's kind of a health fanatic. You know, he loves to work out and he just wants to get back to doing that first."

Hunley had a bedside view of his first moments of rehab.

"I expected him to be laid up, but I walked in and he jumped right up, turned his head around and he looked great, like he was ready to go," he said.

Pollack said Friday pretty much what he's said since a collision with Browns running back Reuben Droughns broke his C-6 vertebra in the second game of the season.

Pollack, 24, said he's encouraged by the prognosis and that the procedure performed by Dr. Anthony Guanciale, director of orthopedic spine surgery at University of Cincinnati Hospital, went "maybe even better than expected."

"I haven't given up on the possibility of playing football again, but any decision on that is a way down the road," he said.

Hunley is coming off a long road this season with the backers. Pollack's injury started the backer corps on a star-crossed year in which rookie middle linebacker Odell Thurman was suspended for substance abuse and the man moved to replace him, Brian Simmons, played only about a dozen plays in a seven-game stretch because of a neck problem of his own.

Pollack's injury did allow CFL rookie Rashad Jeanty to make a Pollack-type transition from end to strong-side linebacker while on the job.

But he couldn't escape physical problems, either. A broken foot knocked Jeanty out of four straight games as Hunley ended up using eight different starting combinations. Still, Jeanty had as many tackles in 12 games as cornerback Tory James had in 16 with 57, and had four pass breakups as well as a forced fumble.

The Bengals believe Jeanty can rush the passer, but didn't use him much in that role and he had no sacks.

Hunley said the 242-pound Jeanty has potential to play the middle if Pollack returned but, as Pollack said, it's a way down the road.

"It was a tough year for us, but a lot of guys got a lot of snaps and showed they can play," Hunley said.

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