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Battle Lines Drawn: Seven Bengals running backs will compete for two roster spots

Cedric Benson is penciled in as the Bengals feature back.

You can never have too many people for one position heading into training camp. If players know that their very livelihoods are on the line, they tend to pull out the stops that they have. Competition warrants results. It's the foundation of Capitalism, when a third-party entity doesn't feel compelled to get in the way.

The Bengals broke camp in 2008 with five running backs (which also includes fullbacks). They kept Chris Perry, Kenny Watson, DeDe Dorsey, Daniel Coats and Jeremi Johnson. In 2007 they kept four; Rudi Johnson, Kenny Watson, Quincy Wilson and Jeremi Johnson. They kept six in 2006; Rudi Johnson, Kenny Watson, Quincy Wilson and Jeremi Johnson. In each season, when excluding fullback-specific players, the Bengals broke camp with three running backs.

One of our many position battles that we'll see in the coming months is running back. Even though the Bengals signed Cedric Benson to a two-year deal, claimed Gary Russell and re-signed DeDe Dorsey to a one-year deal after deciding not to tender the restricted free agent, the Bengals have a collection of running backs that will improve the position beyond anything we've seen in a while. No, I'm not talking about results or anything like that.

Heading into the draft, the Bengals already had six running backs signed to contracts. On Sunday, they drafted Bernard Scott and signed Marlon Lucky as an undrafted free agent. The competition at running back won't be as much about the feature back (that's Cedric Benson's to lose) as it will be everyone else.

You might as well pencil Benson in as the feature back, which leaves seven backs for two spots. That's where the competition begins. Is Perry all but gone? Does Watson playing on the final year under contract and being primarily a blocking back last year, make him a project casualty? DeDe Dorsey and James Johnson would have to put together masterful off-seasons just to be considered. Is Bernard Scott and/or Marlon Lucky likely practice squad candidates?

It'll be fun to watch and it's encouraging that the Bengals are stocking the position for a position battle that only improves our chances to succeed. Here's the roster.

  • Cedric Benson
  • Gary Russell
  • Kenny Watson
  • Chris Perry
  • DeDe Dorsey
  • James Johnson
  • Bernard Scott
  • Marlon Lucky