Bengals running back Cedric Benson has averaged 21.1 carries in 39 starts with the Cincinnati Bengals dating back to 2008. And in 12 of those 39 starts, Benson has recorded at least 100 yards rushing, which ranks fifth all-time in franchise history. If Benson returns with a, for example, three year deal, he could challenge Dillon's franchise record of 28 games with 100 yards rushing or more. Marvin Lewis did admit the team is in discussions with Benson to bring him back before the March 4 lockout.
If the Bengals can't bring Benson back, there are questions being asked if Bernard Scott become the team's bell cow. During Friday's interview with the local media, head coach Marvin Lewis was asked exactly that.
"I think Bernard has to take another step in development and maturity-wise, maturation physically and mentally and then, I don't know. I don't like when people set limits on people. He's a little slight. That speaks to maturing more physically. And your habits, maturing a little bit in your preparation. He certainly has great ability and we don't want to downplay that. Right now Ced (Benson) is one of those guys that we have at other spots that is unsigned. Now you're looking at Bernard Scott."
The concern about Scott, as Lewis calls "maturation physically", surrounds questions about his durability which continuously limits his overall production with the team. When he's on the field, Scott is an effective running back, averaging a team-leading 4.9 yards/rushing per game with 61 rush attempts in 2010. With good hands out of the backfield, Scott is as good a duel-threat as any on this team. Hands out of the backfield and the ability to slither past tackles in draw plays, where defensive players are spread out anticipating a passing play, Scott seems like the perfect candidate to become a third down back in 2011 if the team doesn't re-sign Brian Leonard.
The durability issues as a feature running back has stuck with Scott, dating back to a three-game stretch of extended playing time in 2009. Starting against Oakland with 21 rush attempts, Scott recorded his first career 100-yard game. The following week, he rushed 18 times for 87 yards rushing against the Cleveland Browns before he was replaced by Larry Johnson due to a toe injury that kept him out for the next three games, not recording another rushing attempt for four straight games until the regular season finale against the New York Jets.