“The running game nowadays, you need to have a couple of guys that can tote it,” Redskins HC Jay Gruden told Kevin Sheehan and Thom Loverro on ESPN 980 earlier this week. “Sixteen games is a long time, that’s a lot of games, a lot of carries, that’s a lot of hits on these running backs.”
Gruden said that he would like to split up the carries more than he did last year, when he went with what was mostly a one-back attack. Alfred Morris had 265 rushing attempts. The other tailbacks on the roster, Roy Helu, Silas Redd, and Chris Thompson, combined for 59 rushing attempts. That is 82 percent of the carries for Morris, 18 percent for the rest.
In his three years as the offensive coordinator with the Bengals, Gruden spread the workload in different ways in different seasons. In 2012 he had BenJarvus Green-Ellis take 80 percent of the tailback rushing attempts. But in 2011 it was a 70-30 split between Cedric Benson and Bernard Scott. And in 2013 Cincinnati drafted Giovani Bernard and gave him 170 carries to 220 for Green-Ellis (that’s a 56-44 split in percentage terms).
So maybe splitting up the running back carries isn’t so much a matter of philosophy for Gruden as much as doing things the way the quality of his stable of running backs dictates. He told Sheehan and Loverro that he will see who can earn the carries that Morris won’t get.
“I think you give Alfred the bulk of [the carries] and then Matt Jones comes in there, it could be Chris Thompson, it could be Silas Redd,” he said. “We’ll see how camp goes to see who deserves the carries, who’s going to get the carries. They have to prove then can protect the ball, No. 1, and prove they can pick up blitzes, No. 2 and then they will get some carries behind Alfred.”
We're still expecting Morris to see the vast majority of the carries, but this is something to keep in mind if another back flashes in the preseason. In his first three seasons, Morris has finished #5, #14 and #13 in standard formats. He's more of a RB2 in PPR leagues (#7, #19, #17) since he has only averaged 0.8 receptions per game in his career. Bill Callahan's arrival (as offensive line coach) should help the effectiveness of the team's running game, which in turn will help Morris's fantasy production. He's a solid value and a safe pick in the 3rd/4th round of early PPR drafts. He should go in the 2nd/3rd in standard leagues.
Patriots beat writer Mike Reiss on the role of Jonas Gray in Week 12 and down the stretch: The Patriots have been high on Gray since training camp and Bill Belichick acknowledged that it wasn’t an easy decision to release him at the final roster cut down to 53 players in hopes of putting him on the practice squad. This is somewhat similar to the 2008 season when the Patriots had BenJarvus Green-Ellis on the practice squad initially before grooming him for a bigger role. At 230 pounds, Gray is a downhill runner who looks for contact. The one thing I’d say this week is that the Patriots, who pride themselves on being a game-plan type offense that changes significantly on a week-to-week basis to exploit the perceived weaknesses of the opponent, might not run it much because the Lions have been so good in that area (No. 1 in the NFL, 68.8 yards average per game, 3.0 average per rush).
RB Stevan Ridley made the Pat's final roster.
Many thought Ridley was in trouble after a fumble in preseason Week 3. Adding to the speculation was the release of RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis by the Bengals, but it looks like the team is sticking with Ridley for now. He has the potential to put up decent fantasy numbers week-to-week as the Pats best inside runner, but we all know about the fumbling issue. Owners risk that he's one fumble away from another trip to the bench.
RB Jeremy Hill was so good Thursday night the Bengals must have thunder and lightning dancing through their heads with Opening Day in Baltimore now nine days away. While running back Giovani Bernard cooled his scatback Jets along with the other 21 starters, Hill banged and battered his way to 90 yards on 20 carries and then added 70 more on six catches.
This is what the Bengals had in mind when they took Hill in the second round out of LSU back in May. A punch it out, 233-pound 4.0 yards per guy. Hill is more than that, but in his first 41 carries as a Bengal, the number is 4.6.
Hill will fill the BenJarvus Green-Ellis role in the offense. The Law Firm finished as the #31 RB in standard formats and #39 in PPR. Hill is currently the #42 RB off the board in the 9th round, so he has upside from there. Bengals.com writer Geoff Hobson predicted around 200 carries for both Bernard and Hill, and although we believe Bernard will see a larger share, even approaching that many touches will make Hill a nice middle round pickup.
Monday, August 25, 2014, 12:24pm
Patriots RB Stevan Ridley’s fumbles are a major concern, but given the lack of options it would be a surprise to see him go at least until the league-wide cuts are made and other options present themselves.
The Patriots will be scouring the waiver wire come Labor Day Weekend looking for a workhorse-type back – perhaps even BenJarvus Green-Ellis if he’s jettisoned by Cincinnati. But until then, Ridley would appear to be a needed commodity.
The piece comes off the heals of ESPN's Mike Reiss predicting the Pats cut Ridley. Reiss was on the record before camp as not listing Ridley a lock for the final roster, which of course was before the most recent fumbling issues resurfaced. As this article mentions, the Pats don't have a workhorse back so they very well could be waiting for final cuts from other team as far as their decision on Ridley goes. Ridley would likely land somewhere else, but probably not in the potential role he would have with New England so owners need to stay abreast of this situation.
Monday, August 25, 2014, 8:54am
The Bengals’ long-term future in short yardage could be seen on that third-and-one from the Bengals 34 Sunday night at University of Phoenix Stadium.
Running back Jeremy Hill made his first appearance with the Bengals first-team offense this preseason and lined up behind rookie fullback. Hill followed Hewitt for five yards, a veritable football field against a Cardinals defense that until Hill came into the game and ran for three yards on an earlier play had allowed Giovani Bernard no yards on five carries.
The third-down run seemed to ignite them on their way to two field goals on drives that gobbled nearly 10 minutes of the second quarter and set up a 19-13 victory.
“I want to know who we are. There were other things on the sheet I could have called,’ said offensive coordinator Hue Jackson. “But I wanted to find out who we are and I think I’m beginning to know who we are.”
Hill has moved he chains no matter what unit he’s played this summer. He came into the game averaging 5.8 yards per carry and he matched it with four more lugs in the first half against a Cardinals front that led the NFL against the rush last season. Eventually Hill is going to take carries from BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who missed Sunday's game due to being sick. It will be interesting to see who the RB2 is once the season starts.
Bengals beat writer Coley Harvey: Bengals RB Jeremy Hill hasn't yet played with the first-string offense in a game, but that's about to change. HC Marvin Lewis said Friday that he'd like to give Hill more playing time on Sunday when the Bengals visit the Cardinals. He contends he and his staff has been "excited" about having Hill in the fold, and want to give the second-round draft pick a little more run this week. In my book, he's still Cincinnati's No. 2 back.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis continues to stick around, and Hill hasn't been playing with the starters, so owners who have drafted the rookie in the middle rounds are justifiably concerned. It hasn't shown up in playing time (or on the field) but the beat writers in Cincy seem confident that when push comes to shove, Hill will be the RB2.
Friday, August 8, 2014, 12:17pm
Dehner provided additional thoughts on the Bengals' RB situation: Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill are slotted as the starters. Cedric Peerman is valuable on special teams and I'd have a hard time seeing them say goodbye to Rex Burkhead. The Law Firm could still stick around depending on how the fullback situation plays out or if an injury occurs to any of the other four. He's definitely on the bubble, though.
We currently project 9.3 carries per game for Hill, making him an interesting RB3/RB4 type available in the middle rounds. His stock took a bit of a hit when he was listed behind BJGE on the team's initial depth chart, but prospective fantasy owners shouldn't worry too much about that.
The Bengals incorporated a two-back scheme last season, when Giovani Bernard was the lightning to BenJarvus Green-Ellis' thunder. While rookie Jeremy Hill appears poised to take Green-Ellis' place in that rotation this year, we haven't seen much from him in that regard. Early in training camp Bernard has regularly been part of one-back sets with the first-team unit. Hill, like Green-Ellis and the other backup running backs, has played more with the second-team. The hope will be that Hill eventually grows into being a regular contributor, but for now, he's just trying to make it through camp. Fumbles have been problems for the first-year player who didn't lose a single ball while in college.
Hill is shaping up to be an intriguing middle round pick if he is indeed going to serve as Bernard's backfield partner, though he is currently running behind BenJarvus Green-Ellis in camp. BJGE was the #31 RB in standard formats last season, but Bernard's role is expected to expand, so that might be Hill's ceiling.
Monday, August 4, 2014, 8:13am
Sunday, August 3, 2014, 4:15pm
In terms of the Cincinnati depth chart in the backfield, BenJarvus Green-Ellis retains his status as the No. 2 rusher, while rookie Jeremy Hill is the No. 3 back behind Green-Ellis and Giovani Bernard. The order behind the three then goes: Cedric Peerman, Rex Burkhead and James Wilder Jr.
Perhaps this is a bit of a surprise considering many had Law Firm even getting released at some point before the season in favor of rookie Hill. This could just be because of NFL experience.
His ability won't be new this year and much talk early will revolve around new offensive toy Jeremy Hill. But the Bengals will feature Giovani Bernard early and often. His expansion as a receiver will only help create a scenario where he can crack 70 receptions and 230 carries for 300-plus total touches. Buckle up.
We currently have Bernard projected for 236 carries and 61 receptions for 297 total touches. Bernard was the #16 RB in 2013, but his touches weren’t truly consistent until Week 9. Jay Gruden is gone, so the Bengals have turned to Hue Jackson, who was the team’s RB coach last season. Jackson likes to run the ball, so the team's total carries should increase. BenJarvus Green-Ellis was serviceable as a between-the-tackles grinder and the team picked Jeremy Hill to be the Law Firm’s eventual (or immediate?) replacement. Bernard’s carries are still under pressure, but it sounds like he’ll see an increased role in the passing game. 300 touches are not out of the question.
Wednesday, July 16, 2014, 5:59pm
If you've been following along the past two months you know quite well that RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis' future in Cincinnati looks extraordinarily cloudy. Ever since the Bengals picked Jeremy Hill in the second round of May's draft, conventional logic has said that the veteran Green-Ellis no longer has a place on the team. Hill's drafting coincides with Green-Ellis entering the final year of a three-year deal. After lacking production last season, it stands to reason the Bengals are more willing to build for their future, instead of giving a vet like Green-Ellis an opportunity to continue playing. That's the signal Hill's selection sent, at least. Publicly, the Bengals maintain Green-Ellis has a place on this team and that they believe he can contribute. During minicamps and organized team activity practices, though, he was relegated in some cases to third- and fourth-back status, playing behind the likes of Hill, Giovani Bernard and a combination of Cedric Peerman and Rex Burkhead. Green-Ellis has been playing for his job since May, and he'll continue to do so when the Bengals return next week.
Hill is shaping up to be an intriguing middle round pick if he is indeed going to serve as Bernard's backfield partner. BJGE was the #31 RB in standard formats last season, but Bernard's role is expected to expand, so that might be Hill's ceiling, unless he's considerably more productive on a per touch basis.
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