The month of June marks a time that sports nice weather and outdoor activities, but it also points to a pivotal time in the NFL calendar. Teams around the league begin their first mandatory practices of the year with free agency, the draft and OTAs all in the rear view mirror. Such was the case for the Bengals on Tuesday.
One of the facets of the 2014 squad that will be under the microscope the most is the running game. With a couple of additions to assist that area in the draft and in free agency, coupled with offensive coordinator Hue Jackson's promise of balance, many are wondering if the Bengals will have a truly legitimate rushing attack to prop up Andy Dalton for the first time in his career.
If you're asking Hue Jackson about the outlook following one day of practice, he seems pretty jazzed. Jay Morrison, a local writer for various media outlets, got some great nuggets from Jackson on a variety of subjects. He touched on the two young running backs (Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard), the future of BenJarvus Green-Ellis and his new "up-tempo offense".
Lot has been said about Hue's up-tempo offense. Asked what the defense thinks of it, he said "They hate me right now." #Bengals— Jay Morrison (@JayMorrisonCMG) June 10, 2014
Hue on Gio: He’s been fantastic. He’s taken a leadership role. He likes to play and he likes the ball And I like to give him the ball.— Jay Morrison (@JayMorrisonCMG) June 10, 2014
Hue on crowd at RB: That’s a talented group. It’s going to be a tough decision. But you’d rather have the tough ones than the easy ones.— Jay Morrison (@JayMorrisonCMG) June 10, 2014
Hue on Green-Ellis counting RBs on roster: He shouldn’t worry about a count. I’m not worried about a count. He should worry about competing.— Jay Morrison (@JayMorrisonCMG) June 10, 2014
More Hue on BGE: As an NFL player you come to work every day to give your best. He's done that. I will always stand on the table for Benny.— Jay Morrison (@JayMorrisonCMG) June 10, 2014
Though it's easy to look at the backs as the primary reason to point at with some of the recent running struggles, one would also need to look up front to the big boys. Injuries and/or ineffective play at both left guard and center have contributed to the problems. The team traded up for just the third time in team history to grab Russell Bodine in the fourth round. They also re-signed Mike Pollak and allowed Kyle Cook to be shown the exit. On Tuesday, there was an interesting sight:
Bodine starting with 1s— Geoff Hobson (@GeoffHobsonCin) June 10, 2014
Though our good friend Geoff Hobson didn't clarify and some believe that Bodine can play both guard and center, we're inclined to believe that he was the starter at his natural position in the middle of the line. Judging after just one day of practice, it seems as if Jackson is beginning to put his stamp on the group.