“The Bengals may have been saved from themselves in regards to Russell Bodine.”
That’s how an article on the Cincinnati Bengals’ SB Nation page, cincyjungle.com, starts.
As you can probably surmise, there is a significant portion of the Bengals’ fan base happy to see Bodine go to the Buffalo Bills, who signed the veteran center to a two-year contract Monday. Although he’s started all 64 games in his four-year career, Bodine’s performance with the Bengals has been met with, at best, mixed results.
Analytics website Pro Football Focus gave Bodine a 46.9 overall grade (out of 100) in 2017, and scored him above 55.0 just once in his career.
Speaking on a conference call with the Western New York media on Tuesday, Bodine said he doesn’t concern himself with outside opinions of his play.
“I’ll be honest, I obviously don’t read all that stuff,” Bodine said. “I think, with any player, you’d drive yourself nuts sitting there reading all the media stuff. It is what it is. You go through four years and 64 starts, whatever it’s been, and you definitely learn a few things.
“I can say at times I haven’t played up to my own expectations for myself, but I certainly think I’m still on the way up. I would say every game at this point, you’re still learning; you’re always getting better.”
Bodine reportedly turned down a long-term extension from the Bengals to sign in Buffalo.
“The Bills are a team I was somewhat familiar with. We played them a couple times since I’ve been in the league. It’s an organization that’s got a good reputation,” he said. “They’re building, they’re on the rise, making the playoffs last year. Unfortunately, with Eric (Wood) having to retire, however that’s shaken down with the medical stuff, there’s obviously some opportunity at the position there and I’ve heard nothing but positive things about the organization. It was definitely something I was interested in from the get-go.”
Bodine figures to compete with holdover Ryan Groy for the starting job.
“He certainly looks like a good player,” Bodine said of Groy. “That being said, I’m coming in trying to play, too. We’ll have to figure out how that goes.”
Bodine knows the quarterback he’ll be snapping to in Buffalo well, signing just days after the Bills added AJ McCarron to their roster.
“Absolutely, I believe that,” Bodine said when asked if he was confident McCarron was ready to become an NFL starter. “Just talking to him, he’s excited about the opportunity. … I’m sure everybody remembers or can look up that meltdown that we had against the Steelers, but from AJ’s perspective, we were right there at winning a playoff game with him as the starting quarterback. He’s got all the things that it takes to do it and it’s just a matter of going out there, working hard and getting familiar with a new system. I have all the confidence in him that he can handle it.”
Bodine’s addition is the latest connection between the Bills and Bengals, a relationship that has bordered on the bizarre. Cincinnati’s Week 17 win over the Ravens clinched a playoff berth for the Bills, while the teams have swung a trade this offseason and seen McCarron and Bodine come to Buffalo and linebacker Preston Brown go to the Bengals.
“It was kind of a weird deal this offseason, swapping players left and right,” Bodine said. “That was something you don’t necessarily see very often. Going back to the end of the season obviously, we were happy to pull that win off in the end. To be honest, I didn’t know the consequences that would have in Buffalo, but clearly, based off the reactions, they were pretty thrilled about it, too.”
Bodine says he doesn’t know much about new Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, but has heard good things about offensive line coach Juan Castillo.
“My roommate from college, James Hurst, played under him for two years in Baltimore and had nothing but positive things to say about him,” Bodine said. “He’s got the reputation around the league of making guys better players.”