When Terrell Suggs, the 2011 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, suffered a torn Achilles’ tendon in late April, it was obviously a major blow to the defending AFC North Champion Baltimore Ravens.
But even though the injury could shift the balance of power in their division, Bengals running back Bernard Scott was in no mood to celebrate when he heard the news.
“That sucks,” said Scott. “You don’t want to see anybody go down like that in the off-season. That’s the nature of the game, but you don’t want anything bad to happen to anybody even though we go against him twice a year.”
While Suggs vows to be back on the field by November, Scott is simply hoping to be on the field more often.
Last year, Scott typically replaced Cedric Benson on the Bengals’ third offensive possession of each half and Cedric finished the season with 161 more carries than Bernard (273 to 112). After electing not to re-sign the 29-year-old Benson in the off-season, the Bengals inked 26-year-old BenJarvus Green-Ellis to a reported 3-year, $9 million contract in March. Green-Ellis shared carries in New England – without complaint – with Stevan Ridley and Danny Woodhead, and Scott is hoping that the Bengals adopt a similar approach.
“I’ve been hearing that we’re going to use a ‘running back by committee’ so that’s exciting,” Scott told me. “That’s going to help us last longer and give other people a chance to touch the ball. We all have the same goal – just to get the ‘W’ so that’s all that matters.
“Going into my exit meeting (last year), Coach Lewis told me they were going to bring in running backs. They have to make it a competition so you know that they are always going to bring in somebody. It makes you work harder to compete for the job.”
The former sixth round draft pick out of Abilene Christian has rushed for exactly 1,000 yards in his first three seasons in the NFL and finished last season with a career-high 380 yards. Bernard appears confident that he can make a bigger contribution in 2012.
“I feel like my opportunity is going to come,” said Scott. “If I come into camp in shape and prepared to handle my business, I think that I’m going to get more opportunities.”
Baltimore will begin the season without Suggs. Pittsburgh released aging stars Hines Ward, James Farrior, and Aaron Smith and is hampered by serious salary cap issues. Are the youthful Bengals capable of topping the Ravens and Steelers and winning the AFC North for the second time in four years?
“I think we have one of the best quarterbacks and receivers in the game,” Bernard told me. “We have a lot of young, hungry guys on our team and everybody has a lot that they want to prove. We’re confident but we’re still hungry because we still have a lot to prove. I’m looking for big things this year, so we’ll see what happens.”
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