Jim Anderson spent 28 years in Cincinnati as the team's running backs coach before retiring after '12 and giving way to Hue Jackson -- who jumped across the line of scrimmage from assistant defensive backs coach to Anderson's former position in '13. Anderson, who still keeps in touch with the Bengals, offers his top-four big backs ranking during his tenure in Cincinnati to Bengals.com:
1) Corey Dillon
2) Harold Green
3) Rudi Johnson
4) Garrison Hearst
The point of Anderson's list was mostly to highlight big backs... a characteristic of a position that's fading because running backs are getting smaller and more athletic -- like linebackers.
I especially love the Johnson selection. He wasn't special in any particular thing but he scored 36 touchdowns in a three-year period when Cincinnati's offense was potent ten years ago -- you could say that he was part of a "big three" joining Carson Palmer and Chad Johnson.
"All Rudi did was be productive," Anderson said via Bengals.com. "Rudi was a big back; he just didn’t have the height. He had the leg strength. A guy who has the leg strength and the balance is key. Corey and Harold had it, but they had more versatility. He was one dimensional. Rudi would have had a tough time today because he was one dimensional (because he mainly just a runner)."
Hearst joined the Bengals in '96 and offered some talent in a backfield that desperately needed it. He rushed for 847 yards (a 3.8 yard/rush average) and scored... well, no rushing touchdowns. But that was Ki-Jana Carter's job... who the prototypical short-yardage runner with eight rushing scores that season (six from inside the five-yard line). Heart left Cincinnati and played the next five years in San Francisco, where he'd have earn two pro bowls ('98, '01) and an All-Pro award ('98).