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Bengals Roster Cuts: Special teams will influence running back roster

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The Bengals have two running backs vying for one spot on the 53-man roster -- or three backs for two spots, depending on your perspective.

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

We can only imagine that the scene looks like this.

Mike Brown: "Let's move on to running backs. Do we really need Cedric Peerman?"
Darrin Simmons: "YES, YES, YES" (slams fist on table, throws table and sheds his shirt) "Come at me, bro."
Mike Brown: (munches the arm of his glasses) "OK."

Along with being the punt protector, the sneaky fake punt specialist, and a sure-handed tackler on coverage teams (recorded eight stops, no missed tackles in '12), Peerman rushed for 80 yards in the preseason and ranked second on the team (among running backs) with a 4.7 yards/rush average. Big deal? Let's face facts, Peerman was doing this earlier during games than Rex Burkhead or Daniel Herron, both of whom benefited against defenses that highlighted bubble players that will either get released or buried at the bottom of their respective depth charts.

Is that a logical or reasonable perspective? Maybe not. It's just telling that the Bengals routinely featured Peerman as the third running back when BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Giovani Bernard were done for the night. So yes, my pre-training camp belief that Peerman was safe on the 53-man roster hasn't wavered. But if you feel that he deserves inclusion for a three-man battle to keep two running backs, feel free.

If the fourth running back boil down to Daniel Herron and Rex Burkhead, with Peerman assumed safe, who stays? Herron led the team with 167 yards rushing, averaging 5.4 yards/rush with a 40-yard touchdown scored against the Tennessee Titans. Burkhead rushed for 130 yards, second on the team among running backs, but added five receptions for 39 yards receiving. Herron had a nice run late in the first half against the Colts that gave Cincinnati breathing room after being pinned at their own nine-yard line. Burkhead converted a fourth down as a runner, a third down as a receiver, and easily walked into the endzone to score his lone preseason touchdown.

Total yards from scrimmage: Herron 167 yards, Burkhead 169 yards.

Obviously the dictation for this discussion won't be about who is the better running back. It'll primarily feature special teams prospects and Herron has the proven history for that, blocking two punts in three games played last season. Either way, the final spot on the running back roster will likely be heavily influenced by special teams coordinator, Darrin Simmons.

Darrin Simmons: (calmly puts his shirt back on)