Bengals Center Kyle Cook On The Hot Seat

Tom MirickCorrespondent IJune 8, 2009

CINCINNATI - MAY 2:  Rookie lineman Kyle Cook #67 of the Cincinnati Bengals takes a break from drills during rookie mini camp May 2, 2008 next to Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnnati, Ohio. (Photo by Mark Lyons/Getty Images)

The Center Of It All

When looking at the 2009 Cincinnati Bengals, the most glaring need is a Center who can step up and fill a big hole in the AFC North.

The AFC North is known for having 3 big beast of nose tackle that reside within the division. They lurked over opposing players like animals tracking their prey.

Up North Shawn Rodgers resides in Cleveland, where he is known to blow up the pocket, engulf running lanes, and put his massive frame inside of the open passing lanes. Rodgers is a monster, but his motor is an issue, and he usually comes off the field on clear passing downs.

To the East resides the “ Big Snack” Casey Hampton of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Casey is a monstrous nose tackle, clogging up running lanes and taking on two blockers at a time. Hampton isn’t a sack machine, only recording 4.5 in his entire career, however he is a tackle machine, clogging up passing and running lanes and generally causing havoc.

And finally but certainly not least Haloti Ngata, is considered one of the best nose tackles in the game right now after the 07 and 08 seasons. Ngata is one of the main reasons Baltimore’s defense get so much push up the middle, and allows the line backers so much freedom to roam and make plays.

Facing this fearsome threesome, who seemingly bring the weight of the world with them, is untested 3rd year center Kyle Cook. The Bengals drafted the Rimmington Award winner from 2007 in Arkansas center Jonathan Lugis.

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It seemed like the perfect scenario, the Bengals bringing in a college award winning center to compete with the untested Kyle Cook. However Marvin Lewis announced as camp opened, that Kyle Cook would be the starting center this year.

I know the coaches obviously know more about their players than I do, they see them on a daily basis. However, how would it hurt to not let the players know they have the job before the start of the season, competition breeds greatness.

I was looking forward to seeing a position battle between Cook and Lugis for the starting center job, I just hope the Bengals coaches know what they are doing, and Cook can keep the pocket from caving in on Palmer.

Cook has plenty of strength, at his combine day he benched 225 pounds 38 times.

Is Cook's tutelage in the Bengals system over the last two years going to be enough for him to step in and be a solid center?

Or will he falter early, and Rimmington Award winner Jonathan Lugis step into the gaping hole the Bengals have had at center since Eric Ghiaciuc took over.

Whether it is Cook or Lugis they have to be better than the open door that is Eric Ghiaciuc, it will definitely be an upgrade.