The number one takeaway from Day 1 of Cincinnati Bengals training camp was how well Giovani Bernard performed, just about eight months removed from ACL surgery.
Bernard suffered a torn ACL in the closing minutes of the Bengals’ Week 11 loss (November 20, 2016) to the Buffalo Bills, the same game in which A.J. Green went down with a strained hamstring.
Nearly every reporter in attendance at training camp on Friday was blown away and couldn’t stop talking about Bernard’s remarkable return to action.
Post first practice observation: Giovani Bernard looked incredible. Not just for a guy 8 months removed from ACL. For any NFL RB. #Bengals— Paul Dehner Jr. (@pauldehnerjr) July 28, 2017
You would never have thought for a second Bernard was injured.— Paul Dehner Jr. (@pauldehnerjr) July 28, 2017
Giovani Bernard is out here sprinting, planting and changing direction. He looks great after tearing his ACL eight months ago.— James Rapien (@JamesRapien) July 28, 2017
Gio Bernard said he's "felt right" for a while. Has been practicing jump cuts and acceleration in rehab. Says he's fully confident in knee.— Joe Danneman (@FOX19Joe) July 28, 2017
Say what? Gio Bernard tore his ACL less than a year ago? Not showing signs of the injury today. #Bengals— Elise Jesse (@Elise_JesseWLWT) July 28, 2017
Going to repeat again how good Giovani Bernard looks today.— Katherine Terrell (@Kat_Terrell) July 28, 2017
Not only was he a full participant in all offense and special teams drills (he even returned kicks) he was looking good, had no issues and impressed the 1,300 fans watching practice. Bernard wasn’t even wearing a knee brace as he’s fully trusting his knee and doesn’t think it needs any extra support.
Bernard worked hard to get to where he is and it really paid off.
“I was like 'Nick (Cosgray, Bengals trainer), I really just want to be able to get a different type of training, get used to the humidity so I'm ready for camp,'" Bernard said, via ESPN. "He gave me two weeks down there, and obviously I worked my butt off down there as well."
It’s great news that Bernard is healthy and prepared to compete and make the Bengals better this season. Many thought he’d end up missing all of training camp or even get placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list.
"You always have to pump the breaks a little bit with Gio. He's one of the most competitive, fierce people on this team," Bengals running back coach Kyle Caskey said. "He doesn't want to lose out to anybody. He know what his role is, but he also knows that he can be a major playmaker in this league and he wants to be that."
Bernard is far ahead of schedule and already impressing the media, fans and coaches. This is among the best news we could have hoped for on Day 1 of Bengals training camp.
"When people say 'Oh, you came back so quick,' I just always tell them I'm Haitian and we're just born different, we just have different DNA than everybody else. We just have a different blood type. I don't know. It's something I joke around with,” Bernard said. “We just come back from injuries like it's nothing. Like a wolverine kind of thing, I don't know."
We like the sound of that!