The Gillette Clear Gel's "Built for Training" program was a weekly web series produced by NFL Films that documented three NFL rookies and their relationships with a veteran player who mentored them through the transition to life in the NFL.
The weekly six-episode web series gives fans an intimate look at the relationship between veterans and rookies over the course of training camp and preseason.
The Cincinnati Bengals were one team to partake in the program as veteran running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis took rookie Giovani Bernard under his wing. This gave Bleacher Report a chance to catch up with Bernard and talk with him about his transition to the league with Green-Ellis' guidance, the extra attention brought by Hard Knocks cameras and the expectations surrounding himself and the team in 2013.
Here's Bernard's take.
B/R: Giovani you're a co-star of Gillette Clear Gel's "Built for Training" program, a six-installment web series with NFL.com. Your partner is none other than veteran running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis. How has Green-Ellis helped to bring you along as you transition to the NFL?
Bernard: Yeah, the biggest thing about him is he has been doing it for such a long period of time, especially playing a position I'm playing. He has definitely helped me out just with the little things, just like taking care of your body, knowing how to read film, just those little things that you need to have correct. So for me it's just kind of following what he does, understanding what he's trying to tell me and rolling with it.
B/R: Between the NFL Films crew being there for HBO's Hard Knocks and the "Built for Training" program, the team has had a lot of extra cameras in town this preseason. Some say the extra attention is positive because it makes players focus more, while others say it's bad because it creates a distraction. What side of the spectrum do you fall on?
Bernard: For me it's not really a distraction. For me it's just going out and enjoying it. Not everybody has an opportunity like a lot of the guys here have. A lot of times you don't really get exposed that well, but these cameras allow people to see who you are, that kind of definitely helps in a way, but for me it's doing my job and having fun. I do have work, and it's not being an actor but being a football player and doing my job well.
B/R: The dynamic between you and Green-Ellis is intriguing because you're both technically competing for snaps but you're also the perfect complement to each other out of the backfield. How do you see things playing out between you two in terms of snaps and usage?
Bernard: A lot of times players don't know how they are going to be used, all that stuff will be taken care of by the offensive coordinator and the head coach. They'll put us in the right situation to help the team win. So for me it's just doing what I need to do whether it's offense or special teams.
B/R: You're now four games into your NFL career. Has the process been easier each week? What are areas you are still looking to improve upon as the season goes on?
Bernard: For me it's just continuing to do what I've been doing. Through the preseason I've just kind of focused on everything. I don't like to limit or say I need to get better at one thing. So for me, it's just doing all the little things, just understanding the game, being a student of the game and just bringing it onto the practice field—and game field.
B/R: What has been the biggest surprise to you in the NFL to this point?
Bernard: Not really any surprises. It's kind of the same in a way—college football and NFL are a little bit different. There's not anything so drastic that you don't understand it, whatever it is. You just have to take it as a job. There's no hard feelings between people, it's guys fighting for jobs for a spot on the team.
B/R: Expectations are high in Cincinnati after back-to-back playoff appearances. Many, especially in the fanbase, consider you the missing piece to this offense. How do you respond to and deal with such lofty expectations?
Bernard: I really stay away from listening to expectations and all that kind of stuff. I put enough pressure on myself to play to my ability, I have to play fast and do what I need to do to help the team win. All that other stuff will really take care of itself. I'm probably my own biggest critic—I know when I have a good game; I know when I have a bad game, so I kind of stay away from the whole media aspect and kind of just do my own thing.
B/R: One guy that doesn't like the media, or at least doesn't appear to like the NFL Films crew too much, is James Harrison. How's he been doing?
Bernard: Good. I don't shoot the breeze with him often, he's just another player on the team, and he's doing a great job of being a leader of the defense and you can tell he's a playmaker and a game-changer. I'm happy to be teammates with him, and I'm sure all of Cincinnati is really happy to have him.
B/R: Fans were given an intricate look of the cutdown process and the inner workings of the team via Hard Knocks. How is the camaraderie between you and the other backs on the roster and the offensive line as you head into the season?
Bernard: Our relationships started throughout OTAs when a lot of the vets were here working. All of that started off then and now we know we have to start the season off fast and every game fast. So for us it's just really going out there and continuing to do what we've always been doing—playing fast and physical.
B/R: There's a young roster here in Cincinnati and a lot of new additions. What are your expectations for this offense, specifically, and for the team, in general, in what should be a very competitive AFC North?
Bernard: Well I think the biggest thing for us is we really don't try to, for myself especially, I don't try to put expectations or goals out there. I think we just have to go out there, have fun and play hard. Everything else will take care of itself if we go out play hard and have fun with it. Once guys get their heads down, that's when bad things start happening, so the biggest thing is just going out there and doing what we do as a team all together.
The Gillette Clear Gel's "Built for Training" web series can be seen at www.nfl.com/builtfortraining.
Follow B/R's Chris Roling on Twitter for more news and analysis @Chris_Roling
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