Their running backs don’t get much national publicity but the Cincinnati Bengals might have the best one-two-three backfield punch in the NFL this season.
Cedric Benson, Bernard Scott and Brian Leonard work well together, and with help from a well-coordinated offensive line, they can be a dangerous unit.
Guiding the group is longtime NFL coach Jim Anderson, a consummate professional and supreme motivator whose 25 years of experience in the league speaks for itself.
Any diehard Bengal fan and or football enthusiast who gets to meet the coaches in training camp should seek out Anderson. The man is a great evaluator and knows the game like Elvis knows hits. He’s always more than willing to share his knowledge.
Now to the stable of running backs. The backfield is made up of the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
Whoever said white men can’t jump obviously hasn’t seen Brian Leonard hurdle guys like Edwin Moses. Leonard is an outstanding short-yardage runner with the ability to run on the perimeter. He’s a tough guy with tremendous versatility, catching 30 passes out of the backfield a year ago. Leonard is expected to play an expanded role in the offense for obvious reasons.
Benson is coming off his most productive season as a pro. He rushed for 1,251 yards and six touchdowns. He finished the 2009 season as the eighth-leading rusher in the league. There is no reason to believe he won’t repeat that performance or do better. Bottom line: Benson has the physical skills to make plays. That’s bad news for opposing defenses.
Scott has the instincts, speed, quickness, athleticism and toughness to make big plays. The way I see it, anytime you have a player who can make big plays on a consistent basis you have something special. The Bengals believe they have that in Scott.
“Bernard came in as a rookie last year and did a good job for us,” Anderson said. “We’re counting on him to be bigger and better than he was last season. He will play a bigger role in what we do.”
Things could get real ugly for defenses if Scott can live up to expectations.
There is no doubt the Bengals are building a respectable ground game.
Carlos "Big C" Holmes covers the NFL for Cox Ohio Publishing.
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