Giovani Bernard won’t be seen much, during the Bengals’ OTA practices. Rushing the talented change-of-pace RB into the lineup isn’t necessary.
This is good news and bad news for Bengals fans. The fact that Giovani Bernard is ready to get back to work is amazing. But, the thought of him being limited during OTAs is scary. If you follow the Bengals on any level you should know one thing. Bernard is the not-so-secret weapon that has made the difference in tons of games. But, his effectiveness after surgery could be a major concern.
When the Bengals’ fourth-year vet suffered an injury against the Buffalo Bills in Week 11, the collective hearts of Cincinnati dropped. Hoping it was something minor, most fans shrugged it off. Running backs tweak and ding their bodies all the time. But, this turned out to be a monster. The Bengals announced that Bernard had torn his ACL and was done for the season. Huh? Since coming into the league, Bernard hadn’t encountered such a devastating setback.
To make matters worse, Gio had just signed a contract extension for $15.5 million, according to Spotrac. The feeling of dread in Cincinnati was at a fever pitch, to say the least. Earlier, in the same game, Pro Bowl wideout A.J. Green was taken off the field with a Grade II hamstring injury.
Suddenly, it was the year that fans needed to forget.
Foresight Is Always Good
Going into the 2017 Draft, the glaring emphasis was on the offensive line. But, that’s not always how Bengals’ brass operates. The underlying sentiment was to get some weapons that would take the pressure off the line and give them time to gel. But, the selection of Joe Mixon wasn’t as stupid as most think. Grabbing Mixon was indeed an insurance clause in case there was a setback with Bernard’s recovery process.
Stop the typical Bengals fan thinking. The answer is no. Bernard’s career isn’t over and he’s not being phased out of the game plan. But, smart teams do just what the Bengals did. They get a backup plan to implement for such a situation. In the past, Cincinnati was ridiculed for not being prepared. This time, they have a young stud ready to go.
There’s no need to rush Bernard back into action. The timetable for ACL injuries is fickle. Putting him through the rigors of drills could make a bad situation worse.
This gives the Bengals time to look at the other candidates for running back and make a more accurate decision on what the depth chart will finally look like before the home opener.