Giovani Bernard has had a fairly tough go of it this season. He has spent most of the season behind either Joe Mixon or Jeremy Hill, but without either for the last few weeks he has reminded us just how special he can be.
Now, the Bengals are recognizing him for his actions on and off the field by naming him their Ed Block Courage award winner for the 2017 season. He will be officially honored in March at the Ed Block annual awards banquet in Baltimore.
The award is coordinated by NFL athletic trainers to honor players who symbolize professionalism, great strength and dedication, while also acting as a community role model.
Ed Block was a trainer for the Baltimore Colts. He often went above and beyond his duties to help raise money and awareness for underprivileged kids in Baltimore. The award was created when he died in 1978, and then it was expanded to include a player from each team in 1984.
Bernard suffered a brutal ACL injury against the Bills in Week 11 last season. The injury was especially bad as Bernard was set to record career highs in receptions and receiving yards.
Bernard didn’t sulk and take it easy though according to the Bengals’ head athletic trainer Paul Sparling.
“Giovani was upset and disappointed when he tore his ACL, just like any player would be,” said Sparling. “After his surgery, he came in and got to work every day on his rehabilitation, leaving no doubt in his mind or in anyone else’s that he would be ready to go for training camp. His return to pre-injury form should be an example to everyone that hard work and dedication can help attain your goals.”
Bernard reporting healthy for training camp was a huge surprise. Many people thought the team would have to start the running back on the PUP list after suffering his injury so late in the season last year. However, Bernard hasn’t even missed a practice this season.
The team may have been limiting him slightly, and you could tell he didn’t really have the same speed and agility that we’re use to from him early in the season, but last week it looked like good old Bernard out their dodging tackles. This season he has totaled 406 rushing yards on 95 carries (5.0 yards per carry) and 371 receiving yards on 37 reception with a total of four touchdowns.
Bernard currently sits second all-time in receptions (224) and receiving yards (2042) by a running back for the Bengals, and if he continues at this pace it shouldn’t be shocking for him to finish at the top of both of those spots by the time his career is over.
It is always great to see players who are so deserving receive awards like this. Especially during lost seasons like this one. Hopefully we get to see a lot more of Bernard next year, and for the years to come.