ICYMI: How will the Cincinnati Bengals Special Teams Shape Out?

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May 29, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals running back Rex Burkhead runs a play during organized team activities at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

 

But could the Bengals try to move Sanu or another player there and cut Peerman? I like Ced, but he became expendable once the team drafted Giovani Bernard and Rex Burkhead. Gio will be on the roster competing for a starting spot, while Marvin Lewis has already stated he loves what Rex brings to the team, and he could become a leader in his rookie year:

Just the quickness in line, the ability to stick his foot in the ground and go from Point A to Point B,” said Lewis following a recent OTA practice. “Just the things you saw from him on tape. His abilities as a receiver. I think he’ll be a guy also who will really uplift us on special teams and compete to be one of our core guys.

That sounds like praise for a player he expects to make the team.

Last year, the Bengals had four running backs on the active roster in BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Brian Leonard, Peerman and Bernard Scott, who eventually went down with a season ending injury, and Daniel Herron finished the year as the fourth-RB.

Herron is actually still eligible to be on the practice squad this year, which is where I foresee him being when the 2013 season opens. Assuming Gio and Green-Ellis are on the roster, that leaves Bernard Scott, Burkhead and Peerman to fight for likely two roster spots. If that’s the case, then Peerman will likely hold onto a spot, but if the Bengals decide for whatever reason to only take 3 backs this year, that could spell bad news for Peerman.

 

Jan 5, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Brandon Tate (19) returns a punt during the fourth quarter of the AFC Wild Card playoff game against the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

 

And then we have the Tate debate. Does Marvin Lewis really want to keep him for another season to run-out kickoff from the back of his endzone, not to mention fielding punts at his own 1-yard line? He doesn’t offer anything as a receiver that Cobi Hamilton or Ryan Whalen doesn’t, so his only real value is on special teams. If someone can step up and take on a bigger role on return duties, then Tate becomes expendable.

Could that be Gio Bernard, who’s been one of the most dynamic return-men in college football over the past two seasons? If he becomes the team’s feature back, then it’s unlikely Lewis will want Bernard handling full-time return duties. It will be up to someone like Sanu, Hawkins or  even Bernard Scott if he somehow makes the roster?

Sep 10, 2011; Minneapolis, MN, USA: New Mexico State Aggies wide receiver Taveon Rogers (1) catches a touchdown in the first quarter against the Minnesota Gophers at TCF Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

A darkhorse candidate here could be Taveon Rogers, who was on Bengals Reserve/Injured list for his rookie season, due to shoulder injury suffered in training camp. During his college career at New Mexico State, Rogers had 103 kickoff returns for 2728 yards (26.5) and 3 TDs. He was 2nd in the NCAA in both 2011 and ’12 in return yards, and finished his career 16th on the all-time NCAA return yardage list.

That quite a resume, but he’s still fairly unproven at the NFL level. He’ll get ample oppurtunity to showcase his abilities during training camp, and as of now, he looks like the only legitimate contender to dethrone Tate as the team’s primary kick-off returner and backup punt-returner.

The only other role to fill is the special teams tackling ace that Dan Skuta served as. He led the special teams unit in tackles for the second time in three years in 2012, notching 17 stops. He was essentially the middle linebacker of the ST, and now someone will need to step up and pick up the slack. Expect that to be backup safety Jeromy Miles, who finished second on special teams with 15 tackles in ’12. He actually led ST in tackles in ’11, and earned coaches’ “special-teamer” designation on Pro Bowl fan ballot.

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