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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