Would the Re-Signing of Brian Leonard Hurt Bernard Scott?

We reported late last week that Cincinnati Bengals third-down back Brian Leonard hopes that he gets re-signed by the team when the lockout is lifted.

"But I really like living in Cincinnati and I like playing for the Bengals," he added. "They really know how to use a back with my skills."

They do. Leonard was instrumental in defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers in Cincinnati in 2009. On a fourth-down play, Leonard received a pass out of the backfield with less than a minute to play and out worked James Farrier, diving past the first-down marker, extending the drive and enabling the Bengals to defeat the Steelers at home for the first time since 2001.

Even though Leonard was injured for much of last year, only playing in 11 games, I would very much like to see the Bengals re-sign this talented third-down back because he is so versatile. However, I also believe that Bengals running back Bernard Scott is extremely underutilized in the Bengals offense. Neither Leonard nor Scott could carry the rushing load for the team like Cedric Benson, or a like back, could, but both could serve as third-down backs. Would re-signing Leonard cut into Scott's playing time too much?

If the Cincinnati Bengals rushing attack can be broken down into a pie chard, it's safe to assume that Cedric Benson, or a running back like him, will represent the vast majority of that pie. In fact, Benson carried the ball 321 times in 2010 out of the 428 times a Bengals player carried the ball. That means that 75 percent of that pie belongs to Benson. The other 25 percent is broken up between Leonard, Scott, Cedric Peerman and Carson Palmer.

Scott carried the ball 61 times in 2010 and Leonard only carried the ball nine times, so it would seem that Leonard's presence doesn't impede on Scott's playing time too much. However, even though Scott averaged 4.9 yards per carry in 2010, he could be even more effective catching the ball out of the backfield.

Just watch some college highlights. He was good when he carried the ball, mostly because he played in against division II schools, but he was deadly catching the ball out of the backfield. Scott could likely do everything that Leonard has done and he'd be able to carry the ball as well. 

Instead of using Scott as a change of page back, or a back to put in when Benson says he's tired, the Bengals could use him as the third-down back as well. He could show that he could best be used in the way that Chris Perry was used in 2005: 61 carries and 51 receptions.

I'm not saying that I don't like Brian Leonard, because I do. I just think that Scott could be a great third-down back as well as a change of pace back. The Bengals could focus on re-signing Johnathan Joseph and Cedric Benson and they would know that they are no longer not giving Scott enough playing time or using him in the wrong way. 

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