It wasn’t the kind of debut rookie running back Jeremy Hill was dreaming of, especially when his Cincinnati Bengals teammate/competitor, Giovani Bernard, didn’t do so well when getting the chance to carry the ball.
As the Bengals beat the Ravens on the road, Jeremy Hill, a rookie out of LSU, carried the ball just four times for 19 yards. Bernard, into his second season with the Bengals after a successful rookie campaign that saw him take over the number one spot in the position, he had 20 touches in the game: He caught six passes for 62 yards and ran the ball 14 times for 48 yards.
According to preseason and training camp, many expected the bigger Hill (6’1 to Bernard’s 5’9) to be used a lot more, especially in short-yardage situations. However, according to Hue Jackson, the team’s offensive coordinator, Hill is going to get the touches he and others expects, and it’s a matter of patience before he does.
Jackson has a point. In the report, he suggests that the logic behind the decision to barely use him in the win over the Ravens was the scenario: A road game against a division rival, with Hill, an untested rookie, put in a difficult spot. One mistake and that could mean a big blow to his confidence right off the bat. Remember David Wilson on the Giants fumbling the ball against the Cowboys? He got punished a long time for his fumble.
Bernard was in the same situation last season when the Bengals opened the season against the Chicago Bears. He had only five touches in that game while BenJarvus Green-Ellis was the leading running back at the time. Quite quickly Bernanrd took the role of the main go-to-guy in the backfield by simply outperforming Green-Ellis.
For now, there’s no reason to demote Bernard. Hill will get more chances, and a bigger role in the next few games. However, it might take him a bit longer than it took Bernard to become the team’s leading running back, if at all.