If you follow our weekly award series during the season, you should be familiar with the Unsung Hero nominations we dole out to Bengals players. The criteria we use ranges from being a rotational player who gets overlooked by other stars in front of them, to players stepping up in big ways in the wake of injuries.
Here are the nominees for the Bengals’ Unsung Hero of the Year. Cast a vote and sound off on your winner!
Running back Giovani Bernard: Even though one could make the argument that Bernard is the most well-rounded back of the trio of second-rounders, he has taken a back seat to Jeremy Hill and Joe Mixon. With both battling injuries at the end of the season, we were reminded of Bernard’s value to the Bengals’ offense.
Bernard finished with 458 rushing yards, a 4.4-yard per carry average and two touchdowns. Through the air, Bernard had another 43 catches for 389 yards and two more touchdowns, but his pass protection continues to go unheralded as well.
Offensive lineman Clint Boling: After Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler left in free agency, it left Boling as the captain of a makeshift offensive line. Even though the line had a poor overall season, Boling was a steady presence throughout 2017.
Aside from manning the right guard spot for 14 games, he also started the final two at left tackle. Not coincidentally, the Bengals went 2-0 in that span, even though it was his first two NFL starts at the position.
Safety Clayton Fejedelem: The second-year defensive back was a rotational player on defense, racking up 22 total tackles, two passes defended and an interception. But, defense wasn’t necessarily where Fejedelem made his biggest mark.
The reason Fejedelem has lasted through a seventh round draft status is his ability on special teams. He was a constant and underrated performer in that facet of the game.
Wide receiver Brandon LaFell: Yes, there have been complaints about the team’s No. 2 receiver over the past two years. Still, with a combination of injuries and reluctance from the coaches to play rookie John Ross, LaFell was a veteran presence needed at the position.
He had 52 catches for 548 yards and three touchdowns on the season. The former two were good for second-best on the team last year.
Long snapper Clark Harris: Special teams just tends to get overlooked in the NFL, unfortunately. However, Harris has made his mark as one of the best long snappers in the league since he arrived in Cincinnati back in 2009. Because of his efforts in 2017, he was elected to his first Pro Bowl.
Who gets your vote for the Bengals’ Unsung Hero of the Year?
This poll is closed
Running back Giovani Bernard
Offensive lineman Clint Boling
Safety Clayton Fejedelem
Wide receiver Brandon LaFell
Long snapper Clark Harris