With injuries to starting RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis and backup Bernard Scott, Thursday night’s game against the Falcons was a huge opportunity 6th-rounder for Dan Herron to show his value to the Bengals and potentially improve his chances at making the opening day 53-man roster. Herron also got some former Bengals RB Pete Johnson guaranteed that the sixth-rounder would be the team’s starting RB by Week 1 when the team opens the regular season against Baltimore. However, life in the NFL has been a far cry from those lofty expectations for Herron.
After finishing the past two seasons at Ohio State with a combined 1,833 rushing yard and 19 TDs, the former Buckeye was drafted to add to a Bengals backfield in question after starter Cedric Benson departed, leaving Green-Ellis and the oft injured Scott to carry the load, giving Herron the opportunity to potentially come in and make an impact. Herron got off to a slow start in OTAs as he had a foot injury that prevented him from participating.
That same foot injury hindered him during the beginning of training camp, and he has just gotten into the flow of NFL practices over the past week. He hasn’t done anything to wow the coaches thus far, and has found himself as the 5th and at times 6th-string RB to get practice reps. He needed a good showing last night to give himself any chance of making the 53-man roster.
Herron never got established last night, as he rushed for four yards on four carries, and didn’t show anything to warrant a roster spot. Not only id his performance Thursday night ensure he won’t be on the opening day roster, but his chances at making the practice squad also took a significant hit.
With Brian Leonard, Cedric Peerman, and even Aaron Brown outperforming him up to this point, there are plenty of options at RB for the Bengals to go to. Though Brown is not eligible for the practice squad, that doesn’t mean the Bengals won’t simply waive him and sign him later in the year if they need an extra back, while signing a more deserving player like Justin Hilton, Ryan Whalen or Emmanuel Lamur to the practice squad, all of which have done better than Herron in camp.
The Bengals cut their 7th-round RB from a year ago, Jay Finley, and never even gave him a practice squad spot. There’s a new focus in Cincinnati not to dwell in the past and wait for draftees to develop into the quality players the Bengals hope they would become. Instead, its more of a win-now approach, and if you aren’t showing any promise, the team will move on and find another guy.