The Cincinnati Bengals will be running the West Coast offense under new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden and they will be led on the field by a rookie quarterback in Andy Dalton. Also, like all teams, they're operating on a shortened offseason having just come out of the longest work stoppage in NFL history.
All of this will combine to force the Bengals to rely heavily on the running game this year. That's no big deal, though. The Bengals relied heavily on the running game in 2009 when they went to the playoffs and they have a running back who is more than willing to carry the load.
That running back is Cedric Benson and there is no way he gets cut from the team this year. Backup running back Bernard Scott and third-down back Brian Leonard also have guaranteed spots on the team.
According to The Cincinnati Enquirer's Joe Reedy, the Bengals are likely to go into the season with four running backs and one fullback. That fullback appears to be Chris Pressley, but who will be the fourth running back?
There will likely be a position battle between Cedric Peerman, Jay Finley and Jonathan Williams.
According to Reedy, Peerman could be a productive between the tackles back, Finley has a great burst of speed but isn't an inside runner and Williams has great speed and has great hands out of the backfield and could be useful as a kick returner.
So, which skill set could the Bengals use the most?
With Peerman, the Bengals would get a viable backup for Benson, especially if Scott continues to have durability problems. Even though it appears as though the NFL isn't going to punish Benson for his legal issues that occurred during the lockout, if they would happen to suspend him out of the blue, Peerman could get some work in.
With Finley, the Bengals could get a nice change-of-pace back and could be used in different situations, but any time he would touch the ball, he'd be taking snaps away from Scott who doesn't get enough playing time as it is.
With Williams, the Bengals could get a change-of-pace back that could be effective in the running game as well as in the passing game. He could also add a fresh set of legs as a punt and kick returner.
Who's it going to be?
It is likely the Bengals will go with four halfbacks and a fullback again. Peerman needs to have another solid preseason to hang on to that last spot and faces challenges in Finley and Williams, who have looked good so far.
The answer? No clue, yet. We're going to have to wait and see who stands out throughout the preseason.
But for now, keep your eye out for Williams, Finley and Peerman. It's likely that one of those three guys will be suiting up in a Bengals uniform once the team takes the field.