This should be an intriguing position for the Bengals this year as some uncertainty looms not only with the starter, Cedric “The Skipper” Benson, but also his backups. Benson will look to prove last year’s performance wasn’ t a fluke (747 yards behind an average offensive line and a run-well, pass-poorly QB that Ohio hasn’t seen since Stanley Jackson played for the Buckeyes). Rookie Bernard Scott will look to prove his off-the-field problems are behind him. Kenny Watson, who was named the No. 2 running back today, will have to perform well in training camp to avoid getting cut. And Brian Leonard, a versatile back acquired in an offseason trade with the Rams, will have to find a niche.
I like Benson’s chances to be productive this season. He really doesn’t have much competition and he ran pretty hard last year in a very predictable, not to mention anemic, offense. He catches the ball well and could get a lot of receiving yards if the Bengals throw short more often (something I don’t think they do enough of. Take the yards in small chunks, they’ll add up). I like Leonard as a third-down back because of his blocking and receiving skills. Scott, who was given Corey Dillon’s No. 28, could follow in his footsteps as a problem child with potential who grows up in Cincinnati. James Johnson deserves a few looks as well after flashing some skills late last season. Where DeDe Dorsey fits into the mix is anyone’s guess. I always liked his speed, but he seems to be injury-prone, which could cause him to get cut.
Finally, the fullback position leaves a lot to be desired. Jeremi Johnson has had repeated struggles with his weight and his health. Right now, rookie Fui Vakapuna is listed as a starter. Rookie Chris Pressley will also get a chance to perform after graduating from run-crazy Wisconsin. Hopefully, this position will be improved this year with the addition of some new faces.
Time will tell. There is certainly some talent a running back but also a boat (oops, sorry) load of questions.