For the first time since signing a three-year with the Cincinnati Bengals last year, running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis will face his former team in New England at Paul Brown Stadium this Sunday. A former undrafted free agent signing following the 2008 NFL draft, Green-Ellis spent four seasons in New England generating 2,064 yards and 29 touchdowns.
Yet Green-Ellis, a pros pro, has the same mindset as he does during every game.
"It's another team to prepare for. The only difference is I know some of those guys and they know me as well," Green-Ellis said before Thursday's practice. "I'm pretty much good friends with a good number of guys. Ten to 20 guys. We still talk from time to time. It's not just a business relationship. We also have a personal relationship. But on Sunday it's all business."
After 20 games played in Cincinnati, Green-Ellis is already 828 yards shy of reaching his four-year total in New England, largely the result of a five-game stretch with 543 yards rushing last year. It was a five-game stretch that Cincinnati hasn't seen since Paul Robinson posted 100 yards rushing in five straight games during the team's inaugural season. However, he was a touchdown machine with the Patriots, scoring 24 times during his final two seasons at Foxboro; something that hasn't materialized yet in Cincinnati.
"He really was a hard-working kid," Bill Belichick said via the Cincinnati Enquirer. "Came in, was on the practice squad, really worked hard in the kicking game and got some time on special teams and developed a role for himself as a running back. Really worked his way up the ladder. Lot of hard work, very dedicated and tough football player."
Green-Ellis has had a slow start this season, averaging 2.7 yards/rush while on pace to record 568 yards rushing -- his lowest since 2009. Additionally, the short-yardage situations, for which he was primarily signed for, have fallen short with one fumble against the Packers and a failed fourth down conversion against the Cleveland Browns.
As a result, rookie running back Giovani Bernard has seen an increase in his playing time with 50 offensive snaps last week compared to Green-Ellis with 14.
Perhaps there's a motivator this weekend, much like Cedric Benson's revenge game against the Chicago Bears in 2009 when he generated a career-high 189 yards rushing during Cincinnati's 45-10 win.