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Sunday, April 24, 2005

UGa.'s Pollack left a lasting impression

Lewis first saw player 2 years ago

By Mark Curnutte

Enquirer staff writer

Two years ago, Marvin Lewis - then a rookie Bengals coach - went to Athens, Ga., to scout then-Georgia linebacker Boss Bailey.

While Bailey impressed, another Bulldogs player, David Pollack, caught Lewis' eye.

"I just watched how he was the leader of that football team then," Lewis said of Pollack, who had 11 Georgia teammates drafted in 2003 and 2004.

"And they're talking about how this guy was the best player on the Georgia football team."

The scouting trip paid off Saturday for Lewis when the Bengals made Pollack their first pick (No. 17 overall) in the NFL draft.

Pollack, 23, will play outside linebacker for the Bengals, Lewis said, and could be used with his hand down in a stance to rush the passer on third down.

"He brings us an outstanding pass rusher from that position," Lewis said. "He's a guy that, at 260 pounds, is a really fine athlete. He's just a tremendous, hard worker, and smart. He brings us the full package."

Pollack had 36 sacks at Georgia, 121/2 last season, and 58 tackles for loss. The Bengals tied for eighth in the AFC in 2004 with 37 sacks.

"I would consider myself a leader,' Pollack said on a conference call from his Snellville, Ga., home. He then was off to the Atlanta airport for a trip to Cincinnati, where he arrived Saturday night.

"I have been a leader all the way up playing sports," he said. "I think leaders, including myself, bust their butt and practice hard. They put themselves in the right position at the right time and don't do things out of the ordinary, like go out and get in trouble."

Pollack is 6 feet 2 and 262 pounds. He has played at 290 in college and dropped 35 pounds as a senior. His trademark trait is tenacity, and his matinee-idol good looks belie what one NFL scout called Pollack's "animal" behavior on the field.

"He was great, incredible motor," Michael Munoz, a former University of Tennessee left offensive tackle who faced Pollack several times in Southeastern Conference play. "... I knew I had to play hard every snap."

Lewis would not elaborate whether Pollack would get a shot at weak-side or strong-side linebacker. Brian Simmons in 2004 started on the weak side - away from the tight end - and Kevin Hardy started on the other side.

But while Lewis, linebackers coach Ricky Hunley and defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan were short on specific plans for Pollack, they could not hide their enthusiasm.

"We talk about the charisma and the dynamic personality of David, and I think that stands out immediately," said Bresnahan, who was promoted to coordinator in January. "He is a football player who possesses versatility, and the creativity we'll be able to use with that versatility really gets you excited."

Pollack said he had no idea how the Bengals planned to use him, even though he spent an extra 45 minutes interviewing with Lewis and the Bengals' coaching staff during the annual NFL combine in February at Indianapolis.

"It wasn't a scheduled meeting," Pollack said. "We talked about football. We talked about positions and stuff like that. Then it comes down to what they need and where you fit in."

Pollack downplayed a reporter's question that another NFL scout compared him to Patriots Pro Bowl linebacker Tedy Bruschi.

"It's definitely a compliment when you're compared to a Pro Bowler," Pollack said. "He represents a lot of things I would like to represent. He's a great character guy."

Pollack played fullback and defensive tackle at Georgia before switching to defensive end as a sophomore.

"Obviously, I might change positions," he said of the move to linebacker. "But I think I have good instincts, play hard and try to make the most of what I have. I'm eager to get up there and start to soak up everything like a sponge. I don't think it's going to be that difficult. I just think it's going to take a lot of work."

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Monday, April 25, 2005

Pollack's motor always running

He's just 'crazy under control'

By Mark Curnutte

Enquirer staff writer

David Pollack, the Bengals' latest first-round draft pick, says he's crazy but with an asterisk.

"Crazy under control," he said Sunday, during his first meeting with the Cincinnati sports media. "I don't like roller coasters and stuff like that. I don't like heights that much. But as far as things I can control, running around and things like that, yeah, it's fun."

On the ground, especially on the field, Pollack is all energy, all the time. Midway through his senior season, he was laying out in an attempt to block a punt. It was a practice.

He's pretty much running at high speed off the field, too.

He drinks a gallon and a half of water a day.

"Good for the muscles," he said.

He's always in the bathroom.

In fact, today is the one-year anniversary, Pollack said, of a serious fall suffered when he took a wrong turn on the way to a bathroom. He was on a friend's houseboat. He fell down a flight of stairs and cut his head open when he smashed into a glass sculpture.

"Thirty-two stitches," said Pollack, removing his new orange Bengals cap Sunday.

"I love the colors, man," the college defensive end said of the team's orange-and-black look. He'll play linebacker as a pro.

Bengals orange is a good orange - mind you - a much nicer shade than the orange worn by Georgia's Southeastern Conference rivals Tennessee and Auburn.

"I love orange," he said, "bright orange. That's ugly orange, that's the faded, washed-out orange. This is bright orange. I like that."

He's opinionated, but polite and honest, referring to each reporter peppering him with questions Sunday as "sir.'

But Pollack is no party animal: no, sir.

"I won't be out drinking," he said.

Pollack has his bachelor's degree in history. He is engaged to be married May 21 to Lindsey Hopkins, a University of Georgia undergraduate who will move to the Cincinnati area to continue her education.

Pollack told ESPN the Magazine that he is still a virgin and is waiting to be married. He turned down a photo shoot to be part of Playboy Magazine's preseason All-America team.

"I speak at churches, and I try to set a good example for kids about living right," he said. "It's just not for me."

His extensive energy will be focused on football. The Bengals forecast Pollack as an outside linebacker, a pass rush specialist whose 36 career college sacks in the tough SEC suggest he could help apply more pressure to opposing NFL quarterbacks.

He plans to play right away.

"I'll be honest," Pollack said Sunday morning, "I didn't come here to sit the bench. I'll go crazy if I have to sit on the bench."

But he's obedient. He'll do what coaches want. What about special teams? OK, deal.

"My parents spanked the crud out of me when I needed to be spanked," he said.

Everything matters. He'll watch his diet - more chicken - in order to drop from 265 pounds to the 250 pounds he would like to play at. He doesn't eat fast food or fried foods.

He wore a white plastic bracelet on his thick right wrist. It read "Team."

He's excited to be a Bengal. He's excited that former Georgia teammate linebacker Odell Thurman is now also a Bengal.

Pollack will be back Thursday for the start Friday of the rookie mini-camp.

It's Pollack's destiny, he said, to be in Cincinnati.

"God doesn't make mistakes," he said. "I'm supposed to be here."

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Monday, April 25, 2005

Dawgs are key to draft's success for Bengals

NFL Draft analysis: Ex-UGa. stars expected to shore up 'D'

By Mark Curnutte

Enquirer staff writer


Log on to Cincinnati.Com Tuesday at noon to get Mark Curnutte’s take on the Bengals’ draft and to share your thoughts.

Even if none of the Bengals' seven picks other than David Pollack and Odell Thurman play this coming season, the team's draft will have been a success.

By drafting potential defensive playmakers in each of the first two rounds in the former Georgia teammates, the Bengals addressed two of their most pressing team needs: increasing pressure on opposing quarterbacks (Pollack) and adding an effective run stopper at middle linebacker (Thurman).

The Bengals don't need either of the drafted wide receivers to play: Third-round pick Chris Henry can spend a year maturing and getting his sometimes outlandish on-field behavior under control. And sixth-rounder Tab Perry can get a full season of work on the practice squad. The pair of Central Michigan offensive linemen - center Eric Chiaciuc and tackle Adam Kieft - can learn the pro game working behind a starting veteran quintet.

But Pollack and Thurman, they'll likely have to play and contribute. Pollack will be moved from his college position of defensive end to outside linebacker by the Bengals.

They are the fourth and fifth linebackers drafted under the Lewis regime in three years - joining Khalid Abdullah, Caleb Miller and Landon Johnson. The holdovers are veteran starters Brian Simmons and Kevin Hardy. Nate Webster, the major free-agent addition from 2004, might not be ready this season after a second operation to repair a patellar tendon tear suffered last season.

The 2005 draft is the first time since 1998 that the Bengals used their first two draft picks on defensive players (linebackers Takeo Spikes and Simmons).

And the defense, even under a defensive-oriented coach such as Lewis, has been the Bengals' weakest phase for the past two seasons.

"(Pollack's) football presence is going to make us a better team, and you need that. The sky is the limit for him," Lewis said late Sunday after all seven picks had been made. "Odell has the same kind of presence when he steps into a room. He's going to look you right in the eye and give you a hard day's work each day, and I think those things uplift us."

Lewis said the Bengals were unable to address depth on the defensive line and strong safety on Sunday.

The club had its sights set on Georgia strong safety Thomas Davis on Saturday, but he went to Carolina at No. 14 - three picks before the Bengals took Pollack.

While rookies Henry and Perry might not play much, they crowd the field at wide receiver. The Bengals now have nine on the roster. Six, Lewis said, will stick.

"I think Chris has great ability and wants to be held in high esteem," Lewis said of Henry, an early-entry junior who comes to Cincinnati with some maturity and on-field behavior issues.

Perry could earn his way onto the roster as a kickoff return man.

"(Perry and Henry) have chances right away to come in and unseat some guys who have been doing things for us," Lewis said. "If you don't get better, you're going backwards."

Like linebacker Hardy, wide receiver Peter Warrick could be a veteran roster casualty if he is unable to return to form after an injury-filled 2004 season.

There are few, if any, sacred cows on the roster heading into the third year under Lewis. Even players he drafted two years ago - "Marvin's guys" - face serious challenges to keep roster spots. The competition will be fierce come training camp.

And the rookies, drafted and undrafted, will face a tougher task of making the roster. The talent level has been raised significantly from Nos. 1 to 53 on the roster.

The goal is to end the franchise's 14-year steak without a playoff appearance, by far the longest such drought in the NFL.

Grading drafts before three seasons is an inaccurate exercise. But the 2005 Bengals draft - if for no other reason - gets high marks, an A or B, simply because they drafted defense in Rounds 1 and 2.

The defense was tied for 26th in the league against the run. It wasn't the fault of the defensive tackles, Lewis said again Sunday. Players on the perimeter missed tackles in the running lanes. Pollack and Thurman should help fix the problem.

"Those two guys will make plays," Lewis said of the first two picks. "They're going to end up where we want them to end up, and someone's going to come up and make an unblocked tackle. If you don't do that, then you're going to lose."

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What like best about Pollack -- HE IS AN IMPACT PLAYER !!! :player:

I love his attitude -- with the first two picks we got defensive players aggressive attitudes.

Two Players who will bring great energy to the field.

I am pumped -- lets get them signed and on the field NOW!!! B)

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