Pollack upbeat about neck, unsure about career

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CINCINNATI (AP) – Bengals linebacker David Pollack is encouraged by his recent surgery for a cracked bone in his neck, but hasn’t decided whether he will try to resume his NFL career.

Pollack hurt himself while making a tackle on Cleveland’s Reuben Droughns during the second game of the season, and was put in a protective halo brace that immobilized the neck. The bone didn’t heal as well as hoped, so he had surgery on Jan. 3.

“I’m encouraged by the prognosis from my recent operation,” Pollack said Friday in a statement released by the team. “The doctors tell me it went well, maybe even better than expected.

“I haven’t given up on the possibility of playing football again, but any decision on that is a way down the road. My recovery is not complete. I’ve got a ton of work to do with doctors and trainers, and my neck just has to finish healing.”

A few weeks after the injury, the 24-year-old Pollack said emphatically that he wouldn’t play again if there was any increased risk of another neck injury. He said at the time that his career likely would be over if doctors had to fuse two bones in the neck.

Neither Pollack nor the Bengals will disclose what doctors did during the operation. An update on the Web site for Pollack’s foundation said he had the surgery “to correct the disc space” in his neck.

Earlier this week, Pollack’s agent told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the linebacker’s goal was to return for next season. The agent hasn’t return phone messages.

Pollack didn’t discuss his career in the statement Friday. He said he won’t grant interviews for a while.

“It will be very helpful to me and my family at this point if I can concentrate on my rehab and start thinking about the decisions I’ll have in the future,” he said.

Pollack was the Bengals’ first-round draft pick out of Georgia in 2005. They moved him from defensive lineman to linebacker, a transition slowed by a contract holdout during training camp.

The Bengals were hoping that Pollack and middle linebacker Odell Thurman, a former Georgia teammate taken in the second round of 2005, would anchor the defense for many years. Thurman had an impressive rookie season, but was suspended for the 2006 season because he repeatedly violated the NFL’s substance abuse policy.

Thurman was suspended for the first four games of last season after he skipped a drug test. The league extended the suspension to the entire season after he was accused of drunken driving on Sept. 25.

Thurman is eligible to apply for reinstatement before next season. A pretrial hearing on his drunken driving charge is scheduled for Feb. 21 in neighboring Clermont County.

AP-ES-01-12-07 1714EST

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