Four Reasons The Cincinnati Bengals Will Feature Jeremy Hill When Giovani Bernard Returns


Oct 26, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals running back Giovani Bernard (25) against the Baltimore Ravens at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals won 27-24. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The 2014 Cincinnati Bengals may be the hottest mess of a 6-3-1 team you’ll ever see, and they certainly have not been the juggernaut we expected after a 3-0 start. Chief among the problems for Cincinnati have been injuries to just about everyone but quarterback Andy Dalton, and he has presented his own problems. The most glaring recent absence to injury has been running back Giovani Bernard, who has missed three weeks with injuries to his hip and clavicle. In his stead, though, rookie Jeremy Hill has been a monster, and now that Bernard is finally practicing again, as reported by Coley Harvey at, the Bengals have some decisions to make about how to split playing time over the final six weeks of the regular season.

There is an old rub in professional sports that says you can’t lose your job due to injury, but that is an antiquated notion in this age of win-now-always and megabucks.  With that in mind, here are three reasons to think that Bernard will be playing second fiddle to rookie Hill for the rest of 2014.

Bernard Is Not Really Back Yet

It’s a long way from the practice field on Wednesday to getting smashed by J.J. Watt on Sunday afternoon.  Just because Bernard finally made it back to practice does not mean he’s ready for game play, and when he does get some real playing time, he will be rusty.  The Bengals will have to treat him with kid gloves for awhile, because his injuries are fairly serious.

The hip, in particular, has also likely inhibited Bernard’s ability to do much in the way of physical activity for about a month, so he’s going to be sucking wind until he gets it all in gear again. That won’t happen overnight, and the Bengals have to keep the wheels on the bus in the meantime.

Hill Is Better Built for the Late-Season Grind

Injuries aside, Hill’s stature gives him a leg up on Bernard in terms of withstanding the grinding running game that teams often turn to as temperatures get colder.  At 6-1 and 233 pounds, Hill can better absorb the blows that will come his way than can the relatively diminutive Bernard (5-9, 202).  Hill will be able to be on the field more than Bernard will, and that translates to more carries and yards.

Hill Is the Hot Hand

In two of the three games that Hill has handled featured-back duties while Bernard has been injured, he’s gone over 150 yards on the ground. Bernard has broken the 100-yard barrier just once in 23 career games, and that did not come until Week 5 this season against the Carolina Panthers. Fighting for a playoff spot, the Bengals cannot afford to leave yards, or the potential of yards, untapped.

Bernard Is a Better Receiving Option

At least to this point in their careers, Bernard has proved to be a more inviting target than Hill for QB Dalton. In his rookie season, Bernard racked up 549 receiving yards and three TDs, while Hill currently sits at 159/0 through 10 games. With just seven games played in 2014, Bernard still has the edge with 179 yards.

By giving the majority of carries to Hill, the Bengals can limit the hits that Bernard takes at the line of scrimmage, but still get him on the field as a receiving option.

Having two top-notch running backs is a cool problem to have, and the Bengals may have to deal with that in the next month-and-a-half.  Expect Jeremy Hill to get his, and then some, as Gio Bernard works his way back into form.