Perhaps the highest need of the Bengals this offseason was another running back. One with speed and hands to complement BenJarvus Green-Ellis' hard-nosed running style. Perhaps that's why second round pick Giovani Bernard appears to be the fan-favorite in this year's Bengals draft class.
Bernard got plenty of work on the first day of Bengals practices and is attempting to catch up to the speed of NFL practices. Per Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com, Bernard said:
"He (Bengals running backs coach Hue Jackson) has kind of beat that into my brain after Day One or day half of one. Faster is better. That's the type of players they want for this team and so far so good," Bernard said. "Speed, speed, speed. It is something I learned with my last head coach (Larry Fedora at UNC). He was a big speed guy. Everything is about speed and going as fast as you can."
Jackson, the man who brought you 1,000-yard receivers Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh in the last decade, has struck up a good rapport with another personality-plus guy in Bernard. "Just meeting him at the combine, I knew he is a great coach," Bernard said. "At the combine I said hopefully I end up with you guys. He teaches it very well. It is going to continue to grow and get better."
Bernard looked comfortable catching the ball, another reason the Bengals made him the first back drafted. He calls catching "second nature. It went (well). Just understanding the playbook and working through the jitters," Bernard said. "At the end of the day you just have to have fun. It will come as second nature sooner or later. Being on top of it. Just have to work through it and have fun with it."
Joe Reedy also chimed in about Bernard saying that he received "plenty of work catching the football". That's one of Bernard's biggest strengths and the hope is that it is an area where he'll aid the offense the most. Quarterback Andy Dalton hasn't had that type of security blanket over the past two seasons.