Rookie center Russell Bodine is Impressing With a Take-Charge Approach.
2 Oct 2014
Going into Patriots game week, NT Vince Wilfork could test rookie center Russell Bodine, but the fourth-rounder from North Carolina has held up well in his first three NFL starts. Bodine had offensive line coach Paul Alexander dropping his jaw in the line’s meeting room before the last game against the Titans. In his 20 seasons here he’s had extremely bright centers like Rich Braham and Kyle Cook who became very involved in the meetings.

But not this early in their careers.

“He showed real leadership,” Alexander says. “He spoke up and talked about how he’d handle situations. He was very clear, very direct and that’s what you’re looking for in a center. Cook was that way. It took him a couple of years. Richie was that way. It took him a couple of years. For him to do before his third start, I wanted to stand up and cheer.

“He’s running the show, but I’m sure he’s getting help from some of the other guys. We’ve had very few mental mistakes.”

Alexander also wanted to cheer the way he graded Bodine after the Titans game. Despite strong games from guards Clint Boling and Mike Pollak and another solid effort from Whitworth and Andre Smith at tackle, Alexander says Bodine was probably their best lineman against the Titans.

He’s had plenty of help. Pollak, the seven-year backup center with 47 NFL starts who has come off the bench to play for the injured Kevin Zeitler, has been a stabilizing force with the fourth-year Boling and the NFL top-tier tack tandem of Whitworth and Smith.

“As a center in the league when you face a guy like Wilfork and you stand your ground against him, you can pretty much go against anybody,” says Pollak, who thinks Bodine’s debut against Baltimore helped. “Baltimore having (Haloti) Ngata and those other guys have the size you’re not used to seeing in college, that’s definitely some experience right there.

“Every week’s been that way,” Pollak says of the rookie test, “and he’s done a pretty good job so far.”

Pollak had his time in the mosh pit against Wilfork when he was with the Colts and he doesn’t paint a pretty picture.

“It’s going to be hard for even a double team to move him out of the gap,” Pollak says. “He might be in a lot of different places during a game…He kind of hangs in the gap, but he shows some flashes he still has some athleticism and that’s why he’s still out there.”

If Wilfork isn’t a dancing bear, he’s at least a nimble one. When the Pats beat the Raiders two weeks ago, he was athletic enough to secure the win in the last minute when he snatched a tipped pass at his 10.

“For somebody like him, you try to get him going in a certain direction,” Boling says. “It’s just a leverage thing. He’s so big; it’s going to be hard to move him off the ball. You have to do the best you can and hopefully it works.”

This line is clearly thriving as it adjusts to new offensive coordinator Hue Jackson and its own maturity. Scheme and experience seem to be percolating at the right moment.

This post was written by sports

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