Many fans of the Cincinnati Bengals were disappointed, or downright angry, when the team allowed popular receiver Andrew Hawkins to leave this offseason, and to the Cleveland Browns no less. The diminutive Hawkins was a fan favorite for his flashy plays, his toughness, and his determination to succeed despite his size and having to claw his way to the NFL. The emergence of Marvin Jones and the depth at receiver on the Bengals led to the decision to allow Hawkins to walk. Fans, though, still wondered who would replace Hawkins.
Giovani Bernard was drafted in the second round of the 2013 draft and instantly became a hit. The excitement he brought to the backfield had fans remembering James Brooks, and pining for even more of him. Bernard rushed for almost 700 yards and added more than 500 receiving. This versatility will be maximized in 2014, according to coaches, who will line him up in the slot according to assistant coach Kyle Casey to the Cincinnati Enquirer:
“We want to do more with him because he can do that. It’s not just put him in the slot. We want him everywhere on the field. Make people guess where’s he at. You have to make a decision to either play the run or play the pass. What do you do when he’s on the field? He’s a lot like Reggie Bush, where you have to be aware at all times.”
Bernard seems excited about the opportunity, and fans will rejoice at the notion of finding more ways to get the ball in the hands of the talented running back. This will also allow the Bengals to get him on the field more often at the same time as rookie Jeremy Hill, giving the offence more potency overall. With AJ Green commanding double teams and Marvin Jones breaking out, Bernard could come up big. If he does, fans might just forgive the Bengals for letting Hawkins get away.