Dec 22, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis (42) attempts to avoid a tackle by Minnesota Minnesota Vikings middle linebacker Erin Henderson (50) the second quarter of the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

Cincinnati Bengals release BenJarvus Green-Ellis

In a move that should not come as a surprise, the Cincinnati Bengals released BenJarvus Green-Ellis on Friday afternoon, according to NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport, as the team moves closer toward finalizing their 53-man roster.

Green-Ellis, 29, had been the team’s starting running back the last two season, making 31 starts and rushing for 1,850 yards and 13 touchdowns. With the emergence of last year’s second round pick Gio Bernard and the drafting of former LSU running back Jeremy Hill in the second round of this year’s draft, Green-Ellis was expendable.

Bernard will continue to play the role he played so well as a rookie out of North Carolina and catch passes out of the backfield and act as the team’s big-play runner with Hill playing the role of the between-the-tackles rusher at 230-pounds.

Hill is coming off a 1,400-yard season at LSU and is a more explosive back than Green-Ellis who had a career-low 3.4 yards per carry average last season.

Sealing his fate and exit out of Cincinnati was a nagging hip injury that opened the door for Hill to take the No. 2 job away from him and that is what he did with 90 rushing yards and 70 receiving yards in the preseason finale against the Indianapolis Colts.

Releasing Green-Ellis and his $2.9 million salary was an easy decision considering his age, health and production of him and Hill.

With Bernard and Hill in the backfield, the Bengals should have much more balance on offense this year and help quarterback Andy Dalton by reducing the load on his right arm.

Tags: BenJarvus Green-Ellis Cincinnati Bengals NFL

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