After the Bengals packed their bags following Cincinnati's wild card loss to the Houston Texans earlier this year, offensive coordinator Jay Gruden wanted the team to draft a game-changer at running back. Specifically having nothing to do with BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Gruden has been attempting a two-back philosophy since arriving in Cincinnati in 2011.
The Bengals believe that they found him after the team selected Giovani Bernard in the second round of the 2013 NFL draft. And along with Tyler Eifert, Gruden has been impressed with Bernard since rookie minicamp and hopes to apply a 50-50 split between Green-Ellis and Bernard. Bengals running back Hue Jackson has been pleased with Bernard, even promoting the running back as a receiver.
"He's so natural catching the ball. He can catch it like a receiver," Jackson said. "I knew he could catch it really well, but I wouldn't be surprised if he could go out there and line up outside and catch balls like some other guys can because he has that skill set."
Bernard hasn't just sustained those impressions, he keeps building on them, writes Bengals.com.
"He's got great feet," offensive coordinator Jay Gruden said. "He's going to be tough to see in the hole. He'll bounce around; make a lot of people miss. If he gets in the open field, he's dangerous."
"He catches the ball very fluidly," Gruden said. "Obviously run after catch, you can see what he can do out in space. We need him to stay up a little bit when he gets bumped by the safety instead of doing a whirlybird going down. He'll understand tempo once we get pads on. He'll get lower."