The Cincinnati Bengals have high hopes for rookie running back Giovani Bernard, the first ball-carrier taken off the board this past April. After his first outing with the team, though, it appears that he still has plenty of ground to cover before he can steal the top spot on the depth chart.
During his rookie debut with the Bengals in their preseason opener against the Atlanta Falcons, Bernard managed 28 yards and a touchdown on 10 attempts. He also caught three passes for 18 yards and had one punt return for 10 yards.
Although Bernard’s total yardage on the ground wasn’t exactly impressive, the North Carolina product showed some spark with the ball in his hands. He flashed some of his speed and ability to get around the corner, but slipped on his only opportunity in the open field. When he got the ball up the middle, Bernard showed little strength or power and was consistently stuffed at the line – evidenced by his 2.8 yards per carry average.
His first NFL touchdown came on a fourth-and-goal from the one-yard line. He got the handoff up the middle and had enough space to get into the endzone before running into a couple defenders.
If Bernard has any chance of unseating BenJarvus Green-Ellis for the Bengals’ starting job in 2013, he’ll have to show some consistency as the preseason rolls along. The rookie definitely has the talent to be a prominent part of the Cincinnati offense, but must shake off the nerves and be more productive with his touches.
Bernard gets a pass in his first NFL action, but needs to get better as the preseason progresses. For now, the verdict is still out.