Despite a rough performance (by his account) against the Atlanta Falcons, Bengals running back Giovani Bernard showed those special talents on Saturday that forced Cincinnati to use their No. 37 overall selection during the 2013 NFL draft. During the team's second possession with over six minutes remaining in the first quarter, Bernard generated 48 yards from scrimmage during a possession that led to a one-yard touchdown by the rookie running back.
But it was one play that fired up the base, players, and coaches; Jay Gruden's application of a running back in the passing game, not as a check down option -- rather as a legimate threat -- finally being applied.
With 4:53 remaining in the first quarter, the Bengals have second-and-three from the Titans 43-yard line. Andy Dalton stood in shotgun formation with Bernard flanking his left. Once he takes the snap, the reads were a formality because Dalton and Bernard already knew what was going to happen.
"We knew the ball was kind of coming to me with nobody saying it," Bernard said via Bengals.com. "I saw the (linebacker) pressed up. Once they called the play in the huddle, I knew it. I was kind of tapping him. You know in a situation like that the linebackers are usually late getting to a guy in the flat. It kind of worked out the way we planned it. I knew I could outrun him."
Bernard's route was a beeline'ed 45-degree angle down the left sidelines. Dalton went through the motions with his progressions and then floated the football for Bernard. The second-round rookie outpaced most of the front seven before he was shoved out of bounds following a 22-yard gain. Bernard would score a touchdown several plays later to give Cincinnati a 7-3 lead.
As if the kid wasn't confident enough, he told reporters following the game that he wants to do it all.
"I want to be an every-down back. I don’t want to be a guy that’s just shifty or a guy that can just run outside or catch balls out of the backfield," Bernard said. "I want to be able to be a guy who can do it all. That’s the thing I bring to the table as a person that’s able to do it all. If I can add that to my game, it’s going to be awesome. Benny’s going to come back real strong, and we’re just excited for this entire thing going on and seeing how it plays out."