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Bernard Scott: A Break-Out Year In Committee Or Much Of The Same

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For three seasons Bernard Scott has hovered on the sidelines, receiving increasing attention but largely used as a role player to give Cedric Benson a breather. He's the prototypical story born with outrageous collegiate statistics, giving way to demands for increasing playing time. And if it wasn't for Cincinnati's stringent demand to use a feature back with 300-plus carries every season, perhaps Bernard Scott could have long graduated from the "potential" category.

+ HISTORY OF DURABILIY. There's a belief that Bernard Scott has too many durability questions, thus often removing his name from the feature back argument. Can he take the pounding, the strain of 200-plus carries in a season? When Cedric Benson suffered an injury in 2009, Scott stepped into the role with 206 yards rushing combined in consecutive games against the Oakland Raiders and Cleveland Browns. However during the latter game, Scott suffered a foot injury that forced him to miss the following three games.

How can he have that many carries when he was hurt during his most productive stretch in his NFL career?

Truth is those are the only three games he's missed in three seasons. Including the playoffs, Scott has played 35 consecutive games, including back-to-back seasons of a full 16-game schedule, which includes a career-high 112 rushes in 2011.

+ ATTEMPT AT INCREASING IMPLEMENTATION. Multiple times have offensive coordinator Jay Gruden or head coach Marvin Lewis spoken about an increasing role for Scott. By giving him the third offensive possession during every game last season, Scott nearly doubled his career rush attempts, despite a career-low 3.4 yard/rush average, which can be somewhat misleading considering Cincinnati's overall rushing offense was poor and Scott himself never had enough time on the field to establish any sense of rhythm.

The Bengals have already admitted that they're planning to use Scott in a committee-style rushing attack, combined with free agent acquisition BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Will this translate into an increase in carries, and maybe production with help from guard Travelle Wharton? Maybe. Maybe not. The Bengals will use the hot hand and if that's Scott, he'll get more carries. If he can't improve his 3.4 yard/rush average whereas Green-Ellis is playing the obvious superior, then don't expect much increase in Scott's career-high 112 rush attempts.

+ A DARKHORSE AT PLAY. The Bengals may use their first round picks this year to inject talent at positions of need, with a little forecasting into the team's future. But at some point during the NFL Draft, the team could take a serious look at running backs during the NFL Draft. Doing so will hurt Scott's chances, not only his overall production, but possibly making the cut with the 2012 Bengals.

I know. It's a stretch. But you have to consider. What use will Scott be if the team drafts a running back that they feel would be a better solution alongside Green-Ellis? Brian Leonard is more of a sure-thing, due to his history of making plays on third and fourth down, along with his overall special teams contributions. They could use Scott on the kickoff return team -- where I've thought he should have stayed before removing him in favor for Brandon Tate.

However if the Bengals select a running back early in the draft, Scott, who is entering the final year under contract, could be the odd man out.