When you reviewed Cincinnati's box score during their seven-point win over the Baltimore Ravens, you probably took note that second-round rookie Jeremy Hill was largely insignificant. Despite being on the field for 13 plays (ten on offense and three on special teams), Hill ran four times for 19 yards with three runs coming during a single possession with over 14 minutes remaining in the second.
You're thinking... this again?
Cincinnati has maintained a desire for a two-back system since Jay Gruden arrived. It's the type of talk that the team has never followed through on for one reason or another. Usually the backup running back fills in for a series here or there, but generally speaking Cincinnati's offensive coordinators stick with their primary back with an iron-fist policy.
There was a softening of policy last year with BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Giovani Bernard rotating. However, it wasn't necessarily a shift in policy as it was a matter of necessity. Green-Ellis wasn't getting it done but Bernard can't take the beating as an every-down back -- and during passing downs, he's running a lot routes (prior backs in Cincinnati were usually blockers).
So what happened to revert the belief that Cincinnati would unload a two-back system this year?
"Nothing really happened, it's just the way the game unfolded," said Jackson via the Cincinnati Enquirer. "First games in the past for me, a lot of guys don't play. It's the first game, road, Baltimore, tough opponent. Not that I don't think he can handle it, but you go with the guys you've really got a feel for and can trust. The game got a little tight. I know Gio, coached Gio, knew exactly what I was going to get. I think as we move forward he's going to get a ton more opportunities."
With 14:24 remaining in the second quarter, Hill takes the handoff and converts a second-and-two into a first down... by the sheer will of desire.
(NOTE: Andre Smith and Kevin Zeitler dominate their defender)
Two plays later, the Bengals have second-and-three with 13:13 remaining in the second at Baltimore's 46-yard line. Hill is escorted by Ryan Hewitt and gains eight... and another first down.
Hill would only touch the football two more times.
Despite no Bengals coaches noticing that he had fallen off the planet, Hill intends to be ready.
"Every week I prepare myself as if I'm going to be the starter and to practice with a high level of intensity," said Hill via the Cincinnati Enquirer. "For me, last week's practice was tougher than the game. That's the way I intend on it being for the rest of the season; so much intensity in practice that when I get to the game, it's slower and it's easier for me."