LB Pollack helping Bengals coaches while broken neck heals

CINCINNATI -- Linebacker David Pollack is helping Cincinnati Bengals coaches analyze tape while he recovers from the broken bone in his neck that has jeopardized his career.

Pollack said Wednesday he is taking a more active role in the team while he waits to see if his neck fully heals from surgery performed last January to fuse two vertebrae. It's too early to tell if the procedure was successful.

He doesn't expect to play this season, but hasn't ruled out returning at some point.

"You can't predict something like this," Pollack said. "You don't know how long it takes. For some people, it takes six months for your neck to fuse when you have a fusion. For some people, it takes a year and a half. For some people, it never fuses together fully. So it's just sit back and let it happen."

Pollack said his neck is still in the recovery phase.

"From my X-rays, you can still see things that need to heal," he said.

It has healed enough that he can work out again and help the team by watching film with the coaches.

"I'm doing everything I can," said Pollack, a first-round draft pick from Georgia in 2005. "I get up every morning and play basketball and swim laps and come down here and break down film with the coaches. I'm just keeping my mind sharp and keeping my body in good shape. That's all I can do."

Pollack cracked a bone in his neck while tackling Cleveland running back Reuben Droughns during the second game last season. He was placed in a halo brace that immobilized his neck, hoping the bone would heal without surgery.

It didn't, prompting doctors to fuse the two vertebrae. The procedure increased the odds against Pollack resuming his career. The Bengals have placed the 25-year-old Pollack on the physically-unable-to-perform list, rather than the injured reserve list that would rule him out for the entire season. Coach Marvin Lewis said Wednesday that the team wanted to keep open the extremely slim chance he could play late in the season.

"It's not likely it would occur," Lewis said. "Chances are it's one in a million that it would occur, but it does provide the window there."

Lewis is glad that Pollack can spend more time with the team now.

"He has great energy and passion, and that's why we drafted him No. 1," Lewis said. "When he wasn't around, the guys missed him. When he would come around, even when he was in the halo, it was an uplifting thing for them."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.

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