- Coley Harvey, ESPN Cincinnati Bengals reporter
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More intriguing than Leon Hall's return from a second Achilles tear? Yes. And I only say that because in Hall's case, the cornerback had a rough idea of what the timeline of his return might be after dealing with the very same injury two summers before. Boling couldn't have truly known in January that he'd be back to near 100 percent by the middle of July.
That's still not to discount Hall's injury. It, too, was a serious one and credit to the training staff for the way they got him back on his feet.
The recovery time for most ACL injuries has decreased in recent years thanks to advancements in modern medicine, but it still seems unheard of to think that seven months after the injury a player could be jumping, cutting and running the same he did just prior.
"You can't look at something online and let that be the determining factor," said Boling, the Bengals' starting left guard. "I just listened to the doctors and they gave me a general time frame. Everybody's different."
Indeed, they are. All you have to do is juxtapose Boling's return with defensive tackle Geno Atkins' to see that. Atkins went down a month prior to Boling's original Dec. 1 injury. The defensive lineman was lost for the second half of last season when he collapsed trying to finish a tackle during a Halloween night game at Miami. He still hasn't been cleared for full activity, although he has been rehabbing with other injured players since the spring.
Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said last week Atkins would be back before Week 1.
"It's all about how you feel and how the knee responds," Boling said.
As for his own quick recovery, Boling contends he isn't surprised to be at training camp.
"The whole process went really well," he said. "[Trainer] Nick [Cosgray], our rehab guy, really did a good job. I was here a majority of the offseason. To be ready for Day 1 of camp was kind of my goal all along, and just a little extra motivation of something to be ready for. I was able to achieve that, so I was pretty happy with the way everything went."
Head coach Marvin Lewis was pleased, too, adding that he continues to have full faith in Cosgray's rehab methods with his players.
After excelling at the cone drills, and short-burst drills at earlier parts of the offseason, Boling said the logical next step was to get back into playing football and building up the confidence in his knee.
"I feel confident in what I'm doing, so I know I can get stronger between now and training camp, and I can continue to gain that confidence," Boling said. "There's a lot of things I can continue to do, but for now, it's about gaining that confidence. I'll continue to do rehab on some of the same stuff I was doing this offseason, and hopefully get my knee better and stronger."
For now, the Bengals are still taking his return, as well as fellow guard Mike Pollak's return from his own offseason knee injury, slowly. Both are trading practice days until the team feels confident they are ready to more fully contribute.
Quickly, here are a couple other takes for the morning:
A few camp notables. Hopefully you had a chance during Tuesday's off day to check out the offensive and defensive camp notables. That doesn't mean others haven't caught my attention. These were just lists of a few players who have made an early impression on me, and who likely have done the same with coaches. We'll see who makes the next set of lists during the team's next off day Sunday.
Quickening the pace. As part of its off-day coverage, the Cincinnati Enquirer took a look at the Bengals' offensive pacing, featuring comments from offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, who believes his unit hasn't quite reached the tempo he'd like it to play. As camp progresses and preseason games start coming into focus, we shouldn't be surprised to see the pace quicken. Still, as the Enquirer's Richard Skinner pointed out, the offense seems to be taking shape.
Clint Boling's return from New Year's Eve ACL surgery is arguably the most intriguing injury recovery story the Cincinnati Bengals had entering training camp.