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90-in-90 Bengals Roster Breakdown: Giovani Bernard to build off successful 2015 campaign

Everybody expects Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill to again split the running back duties in 2016, but how will that look and what should we expect from Bernard in his fourth year in Cincinnati.

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Giovani Bernard has been a winner everywhere he has played. In college, he helped lead St Thomas Aquinas to consecutive state titles in the competitive Class 5A Florida high school ranks. He followed that up with winning records at the University of North Carolina as the team's most productive offensive player in each of his two seasons. Then, he was drafted by the Bengals in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft, where he has been part of three playoff teams. He has also been a winner off-the-field, including his mission trips to Haiti, the country from where his parents immigrated.

Fresh off a contract extension, Bernard will be a big part of the Bengals' offense for years to come, as he looks to help the Bengals' winning ways and carry them to their ultimate goal of a Super Bowl victory.

Player Information:

Age: 24
Experience: 4th season
Height: 5'9"
Weight: 204 lbs

Combine:4.53 40-yard dash, 19 reps at 225 lbs, 33.5" vertical, 10'2" broad jump, 4.12 20-yard shuttle, 6.91 3-cone drill

Contract Status

Why he might improve in 2016

When the Bengals made Bernard the first running back selected in the 2013 NFL Draft (37th overall, ahead of Le'Veon Bell, Montee Ball, Eddie Lacy and Marcus Lattimore) it was because he had clear talent as a runner. This talent has been on display in the NFL, although in limited doses, as his opportunities have been truncated by a committee role in the Bengals' offense. With a new offensive coordinator, the Bengals may not be so apt to force Hill's involvement in the offense, given his fumbling issues and major regression last year. This would bode well for Bernard who can not only carry the ball effectively, but act as a playmaking pass catcher, too.

When Hue Jackson took over the Bengals' offensive leadership in 2014, he made it known that he wanted to run the ball and run it well. Now that Jackson is in Cleveland, the rumor is that the Bengals may be prone to pass a little more freely. Bernard has established himself as the Bengals' running back in passing situations, so an increase in passing would only increase his involvement in the offense. Not to mention the losses of Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu, which could mean more involvement in the passing game for Bernard, since the replacements for Jones and Sanu are a rookie and a new acquisition who is unfamiliar with the Bengals' offense and quarterback.

Why he might regress in 2016

There is an old adage that when you're at the top, the only way to go is down. In 2015 Bernard set career highs with 730 rushing yards, and a 4.7 yard per carry average. He by far and away the more dynamic, and productive of the two running backs in the Bengals' backfield.

In sports there is always a concern that a player is playing for their next contract, and once they receive that contract they can ease off the gas, so to speak. Now that Bernard has a new contract extension, one could argue that Bernard would slack in his effort (we're not buying that though... The-minivan-driving rookie who fans gravitated toward on HBO's Hard Knocks doesn't seem like the type to stop trying when the money arrives.

There is a large gap in talent when considering the rest of the Bengals roster talent backing up Jeremy Hill and Bernard. Therefore, Bernard doesn't face much of a threat from a backup who could eat into his carries and diminish his production. Instead, his only threat for production would come from Hill returning to his rookie form.

Even if Bernard were to regress, it likely wouldn't be by very much. He has reliably averaged about 700 rushing yards, and 450 receiving yards every season. The offensive line blocking for Bernard remains one of the league's better groups, and his skills on passing downs mean he will be present on the field more often than not (he played 55 percent of the Bengals' offensive snaps to only 43 percent for Hill).

Odds of making the roster

The odds of Giovani Bernard making the Bengals' roster are just about as guaranteed as the reality that half of the United States will bemoan the results of the presidential election in November. Bernard signed a three-year, $15.5 million contract extension this offseason as is about as strong of a lock as one can get for being on the Bengals' roster at the start of the 2016 NFL season.