+ When Orien Harris signed an exclusive-rights contract this off-season, the Bengals had a defensive tackle lineup of Harris, Domata Peko, Pat Sims and Jason Shirley. John Thornton was on his way to free agency and Tank Johnson wasn't a glimmer in fans' eyes. They had to sign Harris as a contingency if free agency and the draft didn't acquire depth. On March 2, there was no else. Fast-forward two months and that list expanded with Tank and Pernell Phillips. Most likely Harris would have become the odd man out. Phillips, an undrafted rookie, is receiving $150,000 less than Harris, and there's few that think the former Hurricane would have unseated the top-four defensive tackles. He'll hit the free agency market after this season as a restricted free agent and the Bengals likely didn't foresee Harris in their long-term plans.
So they traded him. For running back Brian Leonard .
Leonard possesses the two qualities the Bengals demand from their running backs. The ability to run the football with good contact balance between the tackles, and the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield.
Leonard already knows what's expected of him. "I know it's a great opportunity for me to come in there and be used as a third down back," Leonard said. "I think they want to use me as a running back, so I'm looking forward to that. I still have a lot of skills, catching the ball out of the backfield and running with it."
Depending on how he turns out, the Bengals will have Leonard under contract for two seasons, with $1.1 million remaining on his rookie contract, giving them seven running backs on roster (Note: the numbers simply represent the number of players at that position. By no means does it designate our impression of a positional depth chart)
- Cedric Benson
- Brian Leonard
- Kenny Watson
- Bernard Scott
- DeDe Dorsey
- James Johnson
- Marlon Lucky
Add that to the four fullbacks they have on roster.
- Jeremi Johnson
- Fui Vakapuna
- Chris Pressley
- J.D. Runnels
Depending how they view Vakapuna, that could easily be eight running backs and three fullbacks. Either way, the key here is that the Bengals have historically broken camp with three running backs and one fullback.
- "The Bengals love our third-stringers."
- "I didn’t see much of a roll for Leonard this year."
- "...just ask yourself, what has Leonard ever really done for the Rams? Remember he was there number 2 pick. Has he played like a number 2 pick?"
- "I think whats really going on here is the Rams decided Brian Leonhard was a tweener with no role, not big enough for FB or not fast enough for RB."
+ My love for football is undeniable. If I'm not wearing Orange and Black, I'm wearing the pride of football on my sleeve. Be it NFL, college or high school, I genuinely believe that football is the greatest sport. But I like football too, and I believe that baseball is unfairly judged with constant steroid blabbering. That's not to downgrade the issue of fair competition and performance enhancing drugs. Nor does it excuse Manny Ramirez, Barry Bonds, and the players that were shoe-in hall of famers that are now at the mercy of a baseball writer's moral compass. However, there's additional weight placed on baseball players than football players. What will you remember most? Alex Rodriguez or Shawn Merriman. The three New Orleans Saint players that tested positive under the NFL steroid's policy was Deuce McAllister, Will Smith and...
I like baseball. I love watching the Reds. This year especially. I love football. But when the baseball world flips upside down after one steroid story breaks, it's crazy. Everything stops. ESPN.com has five different running perspectives from their primary beat writers. Their bottom line is a 15-minute scroll about Ramirez. If it happens in football, you get a quick story, and we move on.
I'm not saying football is saved by some blanket in which stories on steroids are buried. That's not my point at all. But if you take two stories about steroids, one in baseball and one in football, which sport do you think receives the most exposure? Even White House press secretary Robert Gibbs called it "a shame and a great embarrassment to MLB." See. Everything stops.
Links and Notes.
Vinnie Iyer of the Sporting News identifies Keith Rivers as one of his second-year defenders to watch in 2009:
It's hard to forget how Rivers' rookie season came to an abrupt end — on a vicious blow from Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward in Week 7. On the play, Rivers suffered a broken jaw and was out for the season. Much like Porter was to New Orleans, Cincinnati thought it had the missing playmaker it desperately needed.
Rivers again will settle into the weak side, and the team drafted former Southern Cal hammer Rey Maualuga for middle linebacker. With inside starter Dhani Jones and Rashad Jeanty also in the mix, Marvin Lewis has a deep second-level corps. Rivers can be a disruptive force in Lewis' 4-3 scheme. The Bengals' defense snuck up to a respectable level last season, but if Cincinnati is to move up closer to the top dozen, it needs Rivers to break out.
Levi Jones was headed to Seattle for a visit. Now not so much. Wonder what happened. Is Buffalo calling?
Shutdown Corner on the Bengals trade for Brian Leonard. "Rare: A straight-up player for player trade. Even rarer: It includes a white running back."
John Clayton says that the Seahawks, Eagles, Giants, Patriots, Bears, Bills, Redskins, Jets, Lions and Chiefs have had a better offseason than the Bengals.
Just like CJ, the Chickster is getting tired of "character" BS.
Chris Crocker reminisces when he first came into the NFL.