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Marvin Lewis confirms William Jackson III would have returned if not for Giovani Bernard’ injury

The Bengals wanted to bring their first round draft pick back from IR this season, unfortunately, an injury to another player derailed those plans.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals-Minicamp Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Marvin Lewis made an appearance on the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Beyond the Stripes show on Tuesday night and he shared a variety of interesting factoids.

Among them was that rookie first round draft pick William Jackson III was in fact going to be the player selected to return from Injured Reserve prior to Giovani Bernard’s Week 11 ACL tear. That injury forced the Bengals to bring back running back Cedric Peerman from IR with their lone designation to return. The Bengals carried only three running backs at the start of the season on the roster, and once Bernard was placed on IR, the team needed to add a third back to the roster. That was a prime opportunity for the Bengals to bring back Peerman instead of Jackson, unfortunately.

“The William Jackson decision literally came down to the last day of what we’re gonna do here,” Lewis said. “And then unfortunately, Gio gets hurt and we go, we flipped directions. We were going to get William in. It was important to us, and you know... I went up to him in the locker room on Sunday and I said come see me, cause he had been in my meeting with the young guys, and he said, ‘hey coach, I’m going to be active today?’ because he wanted to play so bad.”

That was the extent of Lewis’ comments on the topic, while also acknowledging that it will be exciting to get back both Jackson and fellow rookie Andrew Billings, who also spent the year on IR, next season. Lewis said that Billings is doing well.

Lewis also mentioned that Jackson had been in Houston for the week leading up to the decision to remove Peerman from IR, which would have been between the Week 11 Bills game and Week 12 Ravens game, so it’s unclear why he was home instead of practicing that week, if he really thought he was going to be activated off IR.

In reality, Peerman didn't do much at all this season on offense, though he was used on special teams in the six games he played. He had just six rushing attempts this season, all of which came in Week 17. The Bengals very clearly could have added Jackson to the roster from IR, used him on special teams, just as Peerman was used on special teams, and then added Tra Carson to the roster from the practice squad as the No. 3 running back, a player who rarely ever sees snaps.

The decision to add Peerman due to the need for a running back and his special teams ability made sense once Bernard was injured. But now officially knowing Peerman only played running back in a meaningless Week 17 game, it seems clear Jackson should have been brought back and the Bengals should have stuck with their plan.

You can watch the full BTS episode here, which features tons of other interesting information from the Bengals head coach.