On Wednesday afternoon, Bengals running back Bernard Scott revealed that he thought the offensive guard spot was a "weak point" for the team last year.
Scott didn't exactly channel his inner Shakespeare, but he got his point across, in this interview with the Cincinnati media.
With the two new guards, how much help do you think you are going to get?
"I think that's going to help a lot, you know, two new guards, I think that's going to help a lot. I mean, last year that was kinda our, you know, weak point. For our offensive line, that was our weak point, the guard, but with the two new guys, I think it's going to help our running game a lot."
The team's deficiencies at guard last year were pretty obvious to most fans. Nate Livings' penalties, balls batted down (or J.J. Watt-snagged), and a general lack of running lanes caused most fans to call for major upgrades this offseason. The Bengals replied by grabbing Travelle Wharton, a cap casualty from the run-heavy Carolina Panthers team, and by picking Kevin Zeitler in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft.
Scott has good reason to complain about last year's guard play too. On a good chunk of his carries last year, there was a defensive lineman waiting to bring him down in the backfield.
That's probably why Scott is particularly excited about the 2012 season, and many fans expect the shifty Scott to finally have a breakout season.
"I think it's going to be a big year for me and the organization," Scott said.
Scott is also looking forward to splitting time with BenJarvus Green-Ellis, now that the workhorse back Cedric Benson is gone, and the Bengals are moving to a running back by committee approach.
It's less of a thunder and lightning duo, and more of a lightning and slightly-heavier-lightning approach. Explains Scott:
"I think BenJarvus and I are going to be a good combination," Scott said after Wednesday's practice. "He's (shiftier) than I thought he was but at the same time he has good size and is able to take on the tackles.
"I have no idea how it's going to play out, but however it plays out I'm going to be ready," he said of potential carries. "I'm not going to put any numbers on it. I'm just going to leave it up to the coach's numbers. I think me and BenJarvus are going to be ready to handle how many carries they want to give us. I think it will be pretty even, but you never know."
It still remains to be seen how exactly Scott and Green-Ellis's carries will be split up, but I think it's reasonable to expect each to amass about 150-200 carries, with the Law Firm taking maybe 50 or so more. The Bengals have averaged 463 carries in their past three seasons.
With such an opportunity in front of Scott, who had a carer high of 112 carries last year, he is taking this offseason very seriously.
The minute he was allowed to meet with running backs coach Jim Anderson this spring, he's watched tape and took notes, trying to become what he calls "a student of the game."
"After a while," he said, "you begin to learn that you need more than talent. There are a lot of talented guys. But the best guys are the guys that know what to do when."
Scott is also picking up as much knowledge as he can from Green-Ellis, who seems to have taken a mentor role, though two years younger.
"You can tell he knows what he's doing at all times. His IQ level for the game is good. I don't know if it's from New England or he just knows what he's doing because he knows how to read defenses real well," Scott said of BJGE. "We talk about things. As far as how the defenses are set up. ...I never really got to see him play. I thought he was more of a power back but he's got some juice, too."
With an improved Bernard Scott, and upgrades to both the offensive line and backfield, it's hard to imagine the Bengals' running game not stepping up from a team 3.9 yard/carry average in 2011.