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Comparing Giovani Bernard among NFL rookies

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Bengals rookie running back Giovani Bernard is setting the stage to have on of the best seasons for a rookie running back. Is he in rookie of the year discussions? He could be.

Andy Lyons

When you really think about it, labeling a player as a starter is pretty meaningless. After all, we're really only talking about one play -- the first on both sides of the line of scrimmage and beyond that, it doesn't matter. It doesn't hurt players contractually, considering that Carlos Dunlap signed a $40 million contract with two career starts heading into the '13 regular season.

But if the argument is to be made, Giovani Bernard clearly has the biggest argument on this year's squad -- like Dunlap did from '10-'12. Still. Despite BenJarvus Green-Ellis starting against the Green Bay Packers, Giovani Bernard had seven more snaps than Green-Ellis and four additional touches (both had 10 carries; Bernard added four receptions).

Does it matter? Not really. It's one play.

That's beside the point.

Let's take a look at how Bernard is stacking up against the other rookies in the NFL.

Heading into Monday Night Football, Bernard currently leads all rookie running backs with 110 yards rushing and two touchdowns. If you combine his yards from scrimmage, his 194 yards is ranked second among all rookies, behind Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (243 yards receiving) and he leads all non-quarterback rookies with three touchdowns.

For the sake of completeness, rookie tight end Tyler Eifert has generated 120 yards receiving, which ranks fourth among all rookies.

It's questionable if either will win rookie of the year. Six of the previous nine offensive rookie of the year awards were awarded to quarterbacks (including the last three years straight) and the last running back to win it was Adrian Peterson in 2007 (no tight end has ever won the award). At least Bernard and Eifert will keep this story interesting as the season unfolds.