RB health first roster crisis; Hope for Leonard; James Johnson in wings

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on August 9, 2010 – 1:29 pm


If running back Brian Leonard’s face and voice read like an MRI Sunday night, he has suffered torn ligaments in his foot and that very well could be a season-ending injury. As he sat on a cart outside the locker room in the last minutes of the Hall of Fame Game with his foot in a boot he shook his head and said, “It doesn’t look good,” and said he feared they were torn but didn’t know for sure.

There was some hope Monday that things might turn out better. Leonard’s agent, Mike McCartney, confirmed that Leonard has “a significant injury,” but depending on the size of the tear, it could be a six-week injury or it could be season-ending. Definitive word won’t come, McCartney said, until Leonard’s visit to a foot specialist Tuesday.

“There are some things going on in there and it has to be sorted out,” McCartney said.

Here’s what seems to be going down as of Monday night. Indications are that the Bengals are bringing in running back James Johnson to Georgetown College on Tuesday and he’ll be on the field for the 3 p.m. practice if he passes a physical. Then they may give the Leonard situation a few weeks to play out to see how it is coming along before setting the roster.

Six weeks out for Leonard would be a relief. Season-ending would be a crusher. As the third-down back last season Leonard bailed the Bengals out of more jams than Lindsay Lohan’s lawyer. There was the fourth-and-10 dive to make the first Pittsburgh win possible. The recovered fumble on a blown shotgun snap to make the win in Baltimore possible. The first-down run backed up on the goal line in San Diego’s fourth-quarter din.

The Bengals don’t seem to have that kind of guy on the roster and, plus, they’re really banged up there. In fact, there are indications that rookie running back Cordera Eason suffered the worst of torn ligaments in the foot Sunday night and may be done for the season. In fact, Johnson may end up taking his roster spot. Cedric Peerman missed the game with a hamstring issue and should be back this week. But suddenly that leaves the Bengals with only Cedric Benson and Bernard Scott healthy, which makes you think they have to go get somebody right now.

And they may do it.

A league source outside Cincinnati said early Monday afternoon that the Bengals contacted James Johnson a few times in the morning. Johnson, the former Bengal, was recently released from the Vikings. The 5-11, 205-pound Johnson played in four games at the end of the 2008 season and looked impressive catching the ball out of the backfield. He had 29 yards on nine carries and caught six balls for 47 yards. He’s best remembered for keeping the lone offensive touchdown drive against the Browns going in a 14-0 win at Cleveland on Dec. 21, 2008 when he converted third downs on a 12-yard run and 15-yard catch in Leonard-esque fashion.

Johnson, who didn’t play last season, arrived in Cincinnati in ’08 as a free agent out of Kansas State. He got crunched out of the roster last training camp with the trade for Leonard and drafting of Scott after a 2009 preseason he averaged 4.4 yards per rush on 23 carries. The Bengals cut him and then re-signed him to the practice squad, where he spent the entire season before opting to go to Minnesota in the offseason.

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Posted in Hobson's Choice | 22 Comments »

22 Responses to “RB health first roster crisis; Hope for Leonard; James Johnson in wings”

  1. By pacomomogoose on Aug 9, 2010 | Reply

    Geoff… is DeDe Dorsey an option?

  2. By nastynati on Aug 9, 2010 | Reply

    @ pacomomogoose… De De is a member of the Detroit Lions so as of now it appears as if he is unavailable…

  3. By hobsonschoice1 on Aug 9, 2010 | Reply

    GOOSE: As of right now he’s on the Lions’ roster, so they’d have to trade for him. I don’t think they’d do that and would probably wait to see if he’s going to get cut. Maybe if he makes it they’d consider a trade, but he’s more like Bernard Scott than Leonard so I don’t know if it’s a fit. But he did make some nice catches and runs.

  4. By jkilgore9 on Aug 9, 2010 | Reply

    Pacomom…DeDe is on Detroits roster

  5. By theredbengal on Aug 9, 2010 | Reply

    This puts a monkey wrench into our 3rd down abilities if Leonard is done. Definitely would have to pick up someone. James Johnson was here for a few years. He knows the system. I dunno how good of a blocker he is, but he can catch the ball, like Geoff said.

    Amazing how important a 3rd string running back is, isn’t it?

  6. By overthroensamoan on Aug 9, 2010 | Reply

    This is why I questioned the middle rounds of this years draft. Muckelroy and Hudson in particular. Why no emphasis on getting a RB. I know they have Scott but durability is a concern. Look at Jonathan Dwyer and Charles Scott both taken after the Muckelroy pick.

  7. By carsontr92 on Aug 9, 2010 | Reply

    This cuts deep man Leonard is such a weapon, but you know what why not we’re being aggressive this year let’s go get Brian Westbrook.

  8. By bengalmaniac on Aug 9, 2010 | Reply

    What about Lendale White? He is similar in size/stature to Leonard and he is at the point where he will definitely want to prove himself.

  9. By carsontr92 on Aug 9, 2010 | Reply

    Lendale signed with the broncos a few days ago, so he will be playing in PBS Sunday

  10. By koodadd on Aug 9, 2010 | Reply

    I’d like to see Marlon Lucky get another look. He caught 75 balls his senior year at Nebraska playing in an NFL-style offense and I believe he was a capable blocker. He was with the Bengals last year in camp so he may have a little knowledge of the offense.

  11. By idahobengal on Aug 9, 2010 | Reply

    What about Brian Westbrook? Even if used only as a third down option his receiving ability could be a huge plus. He could also step in and be productive should something happen to Ced or Scott.

  12. By carsontr92 on Aug 9, 2010 | Reply

    Lucky’s pretty good, but I would feel more comfortable with someone proven in the nfl. I just feel like Westbrook would give you more of the dynamic threath that Leonard gave you, they used Leonard on a large number of screen passes last year. Philly was one of the best RB screen teams in recent memory with Westbrook and I just really think that it would be a good fit and it would also support our “going all out” theme this season.

  13. By jasonnc on Aug 9, 2010 | Reply

    Honestly I don’t think the loss of Leonard would be huge. Not good, but not huge. I expect Bernard Scott to be much more involved in the offense this year, and expect more play making ability from him. I also think Vakapuna brings similar skills as Leonard. If Leonard’s injury is serious, I would look to add another fullback (or move Coats) but what I am hearing now is Leonard’s injury is not as serious as once feared.

  14. By hobsonschoice1 on Aug 9, 2010 | Reply

    Let’s see how bad Lennie is hurt. After talking to his agent Monday, it sounds like there is a chance he could be back early in the season.I love Westbrook, but it was way out of character for them to sign a 36-year-old receiver. It would be hard to see them taking a long-in-the-tooth, situational back.

  15. By 2ndboot on Aug 9, 2010 | Reply

    Westbrrok has so many injuries himself the man is the walking wounded and few teams would take a chance on a back almost my age.. I still have my cane and they could put me in a hoveround then I could play the handicapped card… Nah…not gonna work is it? LOL
    Man, there are a small mountains of backs who never got drafted too.. I’m sure there are plenty of them just chomping at the bit to get a look. It wouldn’t surprise me if the phone isn’t ringing off the hook from prospective agents out there trying to get their college boy signed after watching the game last night.

  16. By 2ndboot on Aug 9, 2010 | Reply

    The thing that gets me with Leo after all those high jump leaps backwards over defenders he wasn’t injured, but takes it in the ankle in pre-season.. Man, what a tough break Leo.. Get well buddy!

  17. By 2ndboot on Aug 9, 2010 | Reply

    What happened to Mikell Simpson ? Did they already pass on him? I see he was sposed to be an undrafted free agent with the Bengals..

  18. By carsontr92 on Aug 9, 2010 | Reply

    True I’d take Leonard everytime due to Westbrook’s age, however Westbrook (like) Owens has got to be desperate for work and he’s got to be wanting a ring remember him and TO were both on the Super Bowl runner up team, he has connections with TO and Dhani so they could probably get him at a resonable price as well. Let’s face it we’re probably his best shot right now for getting a ring. But I totally agree in waiting to see what happens with Leonard first.

  19. By crohrbaugh on Aug 9, 2010 | Reply

    Marion Lucky sounds like a possiblity, but what about Marshawn Lynch? Word is he is going to be on the trade market, I think it would be worth a 3rd or 4th rounder to get a solid starter as our back up.

  20. By wwkarma on Aug 10, 2010 | Reply

    Ok, wait, ok…. How about this name……He’s in shape and on a UFL team…. Chris Perry. Hahaha!?!?!

  21. By kimmelp on Aug 10, 2010 | Reply

    Leonard only ran the ball 27 times last year so they used him mostly out of the backfield on 3rd and long. With the depth at receiver and tight end, why not try Coffman or Caldwell in that role?

    Obviously, they would need whomever is back there to be able to block from time to time (in case of pressure on the QB) but Coffman should be able to handle that (plus it gets him on the field so we can see what he can do).

  22. By 2ndboot on Aug 10, 2010 | Reply

    I had suggested Quan Cosby as a RB if he’s on the block, but I just don’t think think it’s going to happen. I hope Q sticks around through this season at least. he’s just to valuable, but in size he matches up 1 inch and 7 pounds different than Scott.

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