The Cincinnati Bengals drafted a revelation in Giovani Bernard last season. The diminutive back posted over 1,200 yards from scrimmage along with eight touchdowns to secure his place as the lead back in Cincy’s rotation. Now it appears the Bengals are ready to double down on Bernard in their pursuit of the team’s first playoff win since 1990.
Paul Dehner Jr. at the Cincinnati Enquirer writes in his training camp preview that the Bengals could have a much bigger workload in mind for Gio Bernard. Last season, Bernard carried the ball 170 times and caught another 56 passes. Dehner believes that diversity should allow the back to approach 300 touches in 2014.
“This team will feature Bernard early and often. His expansion as a receiver will only help create a scenario where he can crack 70 receptions and 230 carries for 300-plus total touches.”
That all sounds well and good on paper. More of Bernard means more of this. But at 5’9″, Bernard may be more susceptible to injury under an increased workload. The Bengals have depth to spare at running back and they would be wise to employ that and use it to their advantage. Second round pick Jeremy Hill could very well make a case for some touches along with veteran back BenJarvus Green-Ellis.
Even if Bernard gets 300 touches without incident in 2014, it could very well come back to bite him later in his career, as it has with so many running backs in the NFL. A player only has so many touches he can take in his career before his body slows down. Expect to see a healthy dose of Gio Bernard in every Bengals game, but also expect the coaching staff to spice up the offense and keep Bernard fresh for another run at the playoffs.