Who Dey notes: Bengals’ James Brooks in Top 10, building a contender

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PITTSBURGH - OCTOBER 8: James Brooks #21 of the Cincinnati Bengals carries the ball against the Pittsburgh Steelers during an NFL game at Three Rivers Stadium on October 8, 1989 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Bengals defeated the Steelers 26-16. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH - OCTOBER 8: James Brooks #21 of the Cincinnati Bengals carries the ball against the Pittsburgh Steelers during an NFL game at Three Rivers Stadium on October 8, 1989 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Bengals defeated the Steelers 26-16. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images) /
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The Bengals continue to impress with their First 50 series. James Brooks lands in the Top 10. After a disappointing 2016, is a contender arriving?

If you’re a diehard, no-holds-barred Bengals fan, then this year’s festivities are for you. Celebrating the franchise’s 50 years in the NFL, the Bengals have been honoring its legendary players. Names like Max Montoya, David Fulcher, Ross Browner and Greg Cook have been rekindling memories. I was six-years-old when Cook was drafted and there aren’t many memories of him. But, my brother told me stories of watching him at Nippert Stadium. My fond recollections are of James Brooks and watching him run through would-be defenders.

Brooks chimes in at the No. 10 position of the Bengals First 50. As a result, I immediately did a fist pump and thanked the football gods. Although he didn’t look the part, Brooks was a powerful back. Defenders routinely downplayed his strength. Consequently, they found themselves with a mouthful of grass or Astroturf.

With his shifty, shake-and-bake style of running, Brooks entrenched himself as the Bengals No. 2 rusher in franchise history. His 6,447 yards are second to Corey Dillon’s 8,061. But, what makes his rushing yardage so sweet is the 4.8 yards per carry average. Yup, that’s ill.

Juke Move 

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Personally, I remember stories of Brooks tying tractor tires around his waist and running up hills to increase his leg strength. That may be a giant piece of Bengals lore. But, it’s a story that gives him room to boast. It may not have happened the way I remember. Total recall gets fuzzy when you’re looking for something to be positive about. Consequently, Dave Lapham has a “real” description of Brooks.

"“He’s the epitome of ‘it’s not the size of the dog in the fight. It’s the size of the fight in the dog,’” Lapham remembered, via Bengals.com. “He would run guys over. Linebackers would come up thinking, ‘I’m gonna blast James Brooks. Then he’d juke ‘em. The next time, he’d blast THEM. He packed a punch the shocked players.”"

When I remember Brooks, that’s what brings a smile to my face. All that power and speed in a little package. Could that be what intrigued the Bengals about Joe Mixon? Maybe the acquisition of Mixon will help Cincinnati channel the power of both Dillon and Brooks.

Is This The Year?

Fans have taken sides about the future of the Bengals. Some are willing to sit out the 2017 season and roll with an 8-8 mark. On the other hand, there are faithful who firmly believe that this will be the crowning moment for the Queen City.

No matter what side you ultimately take, one thing is certain. The Bengals are building something special. The talent scooped up in the draft is like a volcano waiting to erupt. And how can anyone forget the steals of the 2016 draft? Andrew Billings is ready to do some serious damage on the line. William Jackson III is looking sharp, going into training camp.

Next: Super Bowl Or Bust

The Bengals have gotten faster and stronger on both sides of the ball. Without sounding like a serious homer, this team is lit. But, all the purty numbers and accolades won’t mean a thing if stage fright kicks in.

The pressure is on and fans are ready to see something more than a rebuild. After making bold moves with the rookies and in free agency, this may be it. But, we’ve heard those words before.

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