As the offseason continues for every NFL player, it's the first full one for rookies from last year's draft class. That's no different for Bengals running back Rex Burkhead.
Releagted to a gameday inactive for 15 games in 2013, Burkhead is working hard this offseason in hopes of earning more playing time in his second NFL season:
"I’m running and doing a lot of speed work right now, and a lot of strength work as well just to make sure I’m in the best shape possible," said Burkhead. "Going into year two, I’m just more confident in knowing what to expect. In your rookie year, you don’t know how things are going to go with schedules, and knowing the playbook and understanding plays and all that. This year I’m just more comfortable with that, and I’m more confident with preparation and going out on the field and performing."
Burkhead is familiar with new offensive coordinator Hue Jackson's reputation as a running back-friendly coach:
"Coach Jackson has a great mind for the game of football, and I know he likes using the running backs, like he did with (Darren) McFadden in Oakland and the rest of that crew," said Burkhead. "If he wants to use me in every way possible, I’m ready for it. I’m waiting for my opportunity, and if he calls my number I’ll be ready."
Burkhead played in all four preseason games, rushing 28 times for 130 yards with one touchdown, and five receptions for 39 yards. As a senior at Nebraska in 2012, Burkhead carried the ball 98 times for 675 yards and five touchdowns while dealing with multiple injuries.
That came after a memorable 2011 campaign in which he was named first-team All-Big Ten while rushing for 1.357 yards and scoring 15 times with 21 catches for 177 yards and two TDs.