We all watched the Bengals, specifically Cedric Benson, run all over the competition last year for a total of 2.056 yards in the regular season (another 171 yards in their playoff game against the Jets). We all cheered, with a lump in our throats and a single tear rolling down our cheeks, as Benson took the ghost of his past as a Chicago Bear off his back, held it by the ankles and proceeded to beat the Bears defense to death with it on his way to 181 yards.
There were footprints up and down every defensive player who got in the way of the Bengals rushing attack last season, most belonged to Benson... but not all of them. Brian Leonard, Bernard Scott and Larry Johnson all added to the pain inflicted on defensive lineman and linebackers.
Leonard had some amazing plays as a third down back, helping the Bengals get first downs on some of those last minute wins and Scott filled in to give Benson a breather every once in a while and did a pretty nice job. Johnson's part was to fill in if Benson couldn't play.
Benson is a north and south runner (mostly north... actually almost all north). He doesn't try to dance around the edge to beat the ends to the corner very much, he seams much more content with bursting through the middle, plowing over defenders with his head down with steam flowing from his nostrils like a cartoon bull with anger issues. I love that about Benson and anybody who appreciates a power back loves it too. Unfortunately power backs, like Benson, don't have the longest shelf life in the NFL. Their running style shortens their career and causes them to be hurt more often than their scat back counterparts.
This may be the reason that the Bengals, according to Geoff Hobson, are looking to grab another veteran, Larry Johnsonish, running back to back Benson up.
Hobson wrote in his blog:
A veteran running back in the Larry Johnson mold who can lug it 25 times if Cedric Benson has to sit out a few games. Brian Leonard and Bernard Scott are perfect spot players, but they need a backup bellcow. Which would seem to suggest they’ll go with four running backs and one fullback.
The acquisition of a veteran running back to back up Benson would be a good move. It would put the running game in experienced hands if something was to happen to Benson. Some free agent running backs that are on the market right now are Ladell Betts, LaMont Jordan, Jamal Lewis, Adrian Peterson (no, not that one) and Ahman Green among others.
I don't see this happening tomorrow by any means but I would expect the Bengals to grab somebody suitable for the job before the preseason.