Pollack hopes to return for '08 season

Cincinnati Bengals linebacker David Pollack, a former first-round choice who suffered a career-threatening neck injury in the second game of the 2006 season, will not play at all in 2007 but will continue rehabilitation in hopes of resuming his career in 2008.

David Pollack


In a statement released Friday, Bengals officials confirmed ESPN.com's report of a day earlier.

"David and the team agree that he is not physically ready to play this season," coach Marvin Lewis said in the statement. "He is working extremely hard and will continue focusing his efforts on rehabilitating with our medical staff."

Sources close to Pollack confirmed to ESPN.com that the former University of Georgia star, one of the most heralded defenders in Bulldogs history, will sit out this season.

Pollack, however, does not intend to retire. He is hopeful that, with another year spent strengthening his neck and continuing his rehabilitation regimen, he will eventually be able to get back onto the field.

"I'm grateful for my recovery to this point, and I'm working every day to get my full strength back," Pollack said through the team. "Any final decision on football is still down the road for me."

Cincinnati was not counting on Pollack as a starter for this season and team officials had already acknowledged it would be a long shot for him to play in 2007.

Pollack, 25, sustained a fracture to the C6 vertebra in the Sept. 17 game against Cleveland last year, as he tackled tailback Reuben Droughns on the second play from scrimmage. He spent the ensuing three months in a halo device to promote healing but then underwent surgery in January 2007.

The 17th prospect selected overall in the 2005 draft after a stellar college career in which he earned All-America honors three times, Pollack missed virtually all of training camp in his rookie year because of a prolonged contract negotiation. He eventually signed a five-year, $13 million deal that included $7.65 million in guarantees. Pollack played in 14 games in 2005, including five as a starter.

For his career, Pollack has appeared in 16 games. He has 28 tackles, 4½ sacks, one fumble recovery and one pass defensed.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.