Bernard was selected by Cincinnati in the first round of this past year’s NFL Draft and the former North Carolina standout seemingly has a lock on the starting gig. Bernard has a combination of running/receiving talent that is reminiscent of Ray Rice and the youngster is very elusive out of the backfield as well.
This Sunday, though, Cincinnati faces the Chicago Bears and I just don’t see Bernard gaining many yards against the experienced defense. Chicago has always been a very honest defense, so the rookie won’t get many open running lanes. He will have to run north-to-south and gain the tough yards.
Considering Bernard’s size (5’9″-209), veteran RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis may actually end up having the better game. The Law Firm is a much tougher inside runner and will do better fighting through the thick d-line of the Bears. Bernard may have a couple receptions, but Green-Ellis will likely get the majority of the carries in Week 1.
Additionally, Bernard has not been a very reliable pass protector throughout the preseason. He has been caught out of position on several occasions and the first year back could be a major problem for the team against Chicago’s relentless pass rush. Green-Ellis is much better at protecting the quarterback and that alone could keep Bernard off the field.
I think Bernard has a very bright future ahead of him and I think he will become a reliable RB2 by the time the season ends, but this is one week I wouldn’t start him.