The Bengals' tinkering this offseason involves integrating RB Giovani Bernard more into the passing game, particularly at slot receiver. At 5-foot-9, 208 pounds his height would remind of the departed Andrew Hawkins, but coaches view the concept by a different role model.
"We want to do more with him because he can do that," running backs coach Kyle Caskey said. "It's not just put him in the slot. We want him everywhere on the field. Make people guess where's he at. You have to make a decision to either play the run or play the pass. What do you do when he's on the field? He's a lot like Reggie Bush where you have to be aware at all times."
"It's almost easier from the slot," Bernard said. "Think about it; if you're in the backfield you have to run five yards or six and a half or seven to get to the line of scrimmage and then you've got to push up five more yards, you've got to get through all of the crowd and you've got to check all of the protections. So it's almost a lot easier when you're on the slot where all you have to do is just run five yards to get to your spot."
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 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.