I didn't know who John Riggins was until about 25 minutes ago so if you're nervous about getting struck down by a bolt of lightning from the football gods then don't share a bench with me. I'm asking for it. If you don't know who John Riggins is, here you go: John Riggins was a fullbackish running back for the New York Jets and the Washington Redskins (he made more of a name for himself as a Redskin). He was the Super Bowl XVII MVP, considered to be on the 1980's All-Decade Team, in the Redskins Hall of Fame, won the Bert Bell award in 1983 and was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1992. So, John Riggins was really good.
I guess if you were going to compare one white running back to another white running back, you could always do worse than a hall of famer who racked up 3,000 yards in his first two seasons as a professional football player. Leonard is pretty happy with the comparison.
"I'm my own person but do share some of the same similarities as Riggins," Leonard said, per Holmes. (So Leonard has sprouted a Riggins-style 'fro?) "He was a hard runner and had good hands out of the backfield. That's what I feel like I do, make one cut and get up field, break a few arm tackles and make a couple of guys miss. That's me. Hopefully, this is a breakout year for me."
The biggest difference between Leonard and Riggins, besides the fro, the decade and the whole Hall of Fame thing, is the fact that one ran the ball and one catches the ball. As a third down back, Leonard does a lot of catching the ball out of the backfield. Last season, Leonard had some key plays to help the Bengals extend some of those last minute scoring drives. Without him, the Bengals would not have been 10-6 and may not have made the playoffs.
Riggins, on the other hand, rarely caught the ball out of the backfield. His run to catch ratio was 11-1.
So this comparison is great in theory. It's always nice to be compared to somebody great. I love it when people compare me to Brad Pitt, Ryan Reynolds or that guy who played Sloth in The Goonies. I'm sure it's flattering to be compared to a Hall of Famer but without the numbers, a comparison really doesn't count for anything.
That may change soon. IF Cedric Benson does get suspended (and I doubt he will.... knock on wood), Leonard could see an expanded role in the offense. Bernard Scott may get the bulk of the carries but Leonard wouldn't just be used as a third down back. IF that is the case, we'll be able to watch Leonard show his stuff.
The Dayton Daily News reports that Cedric Benson could be suspended by the NFL for his latest arrest in Texas last week. That means that Brian Leonard and Bernard Scott would be the primary backs featured in Cincinnati’s offense. They’re expected to take on bigger roles even if Benson isn’t suspended. "I feel like I can do anything," said Leonard. "The coaches believe I can do it and feel comfortable with me at any position. My reps have increased, and I’m expected to be more involved in the offense. I’m a team player and will do whatever is asked of me."
I watched Leonard perform the "Leonard Leap" while he was at Rutgers and I'd be willing to bet that his vertical leap hasn't gone anywhere since then. If anything, it's gotten better. Maybe he'll show us this season.
Hopefully Benson doesn't get suspended, if he does though, I trust Scott and Leonard to fill his shoes until he gets back.