Few rookies seem to have their coaches as excited as Bengals running back Giovani Bernard.
Bernard, whom the Bengals selected in the second round of this year’s NFL draft, has been the subject of talk from the Bengals’ coaching staff that he’s good enough catching passes that he could line up at wide receiver, and that he’ll be part of the Bengals taking “major, major, major steps forward.”
Now Bengals running backs coach Hue Jackson is saying that Bernard doesn’t have to be just be a change-of-pace back behind starter BenJarvus Green-Ellis. In Jackson’s view, Bernard can carry the load if the Bengals call on him to do it.
“Having evaluated him and watched every game he played this year and had a chance to work him out, and having spent a lot of time with him,” Jackson said of Bernard, “he has that skill set where I think he could play and be an every down player.”
Bengals coach Marvin Lewis also suggested that Bernard isn’t just a home-run threat who can break a few long runs, but a back who could carry the ball 25 times a game and help the Bengals win by grinding it out.
“It’s not always the yardage total that’s most important,” Lewis said. “When your back is carrying 25 times, it means that even though the yardage will vary, you’re controlling the ball, controlling the clock, and keeping your defense off the field. As it shows for us, that is very likely going to be a winning combination.”
Keeping Bernard heavily involved in the offense may be a winning strategy in Cincinnati.