After he was seen seen spending quite a bit of time with running back Isaiah Pead at the University of Cincinnati Pro Day, longtime Bengals running backs coach Jim Anderson spoke to the media about his position group's status heading into 2012. The group is in a state of transition with the team needing to infuse new talent to help out second-year quarterback Andy Dalton. It's possible that they look to add someone via free agency, but it's becoming more and more clear that the team will grab a back somewhere in the early part of the draft.
It's also becoming more and more clear that Cedric Benson won't be a part of next year's roster. Paul Dehner, Jr. of CBSRapidReports received some interestingly candid quotes from the ol' ball coach about the future at the position.
When speaking on how the group is currently constructed, Anderson had this to say:
"We have a good core of guys. Bernard (Scott), a cagy veteran in Brian Leonard, a guy who busts his butt in (Cedric) Peerman and we just signed Aaron Brown. We have quality depth, and we know what we're doing."
It's unclear what the future will hold for Brown and Peerman. Brown was just brought in off the street and could be nothing more than a camp body. But, if that's the case, why the urgency to sign him? Peerman has been hovering around the club the last few seasons, until finally getting his crack at the roster this year. He was a monster on special teams in the regular season, but has only flashed his running abilities in the preseason. Leonard should be safe as the team's third-down back for another year and Scott's future could ultimately depend on what the team does in free agency and the draft.
Regarding the club's new "running back by committee" approach, Anderson had this to say:
"The game is changing. How fast the game is going and the tempo of the game. You have to give that guy more of a break. Pro level the game has become more up tempo. You want that guy fresh. Before you had that luxury of getting that guy back in the huddle."
This is going to be a tricky equation for the team to figure out. Backs like Benson, Brandon Jacobs and Michael Bush are guys that get better as the game wears on and get more carries. The team tried this method with Scott and Benson last year and it didn't work all that well. Conversely, Jacobs has done well in the multi-back system, even though he's a bruiser. It's likely that the team will look to add both a bigger back and a speedier back via free agency or the draft to help implement this new approach from Anderson and offensive coordinator Jay Gruden.