Bengals: 5 Things to Watch vs. Cardinals

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 Russell Bodine

Maybe the Bengals most significant addition of the off-season, rookie center Russell Bodine stands to make a unique impact on this team in 2014.

Aug 7, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis (left) congratulates center Russell Bodine (61) in the first half at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

The Bengals have sought improvement at the center position for a few year’s now and they believe they’ve found it in Bodine.  He’s an incredibly strong center capable of dealing with the biggest and strongest interior defensive linemen such as in-division rival, Haloti Ngata.  He has a nasty demeanor, which makes the Bengals happy, and received a glowing endorsement from North Carolina and now Bengal teammate Giovani Bernard.

"“When you have one of those guys that’s very physical and very kind of in-your-face, it’s always good for an offensive line.  He’s a guy that’s not going to back down from anyone. That’s the kind of guy you want on your team.”"

It hasn’t all been smooth for Bodine this off-season though.  He’s struggled snapping the ball while also having to learn a substantially more complex offense than the one he played within while at North Carolina.  While in college, Bodine played within an uptempo offense, but one where he didn’t make line calls and where he was in control of the snap rather than the quarterback being in charge.  Bodine is a hard worker and the Bengals have confidence that he’ll work through his issues.  Recently offensive line coach Paul Alexander told gave his endorsement of Bodine at the center position.

"“Right now it’s full speed ahead with Bodine.”"

Bodine was labeled as a top 10 impact rookie by Football Outsiders, albeit largely because of being “handed” the starting job.  Yes it’s true that Bodine will likely receive the job, but “handed” is a strong word.  The Bengals have had confidence in Bodine from the start while also possessing a quality lineman who can play center in Mike Pollak. The Bengals will face the Cardinals’ strong defensive line tomorrow, so if Bodine can prove to be effective while continuing to improve his snapping ability, the Bengals may be right to “hand” the job to Bodine.