Bengals: Pros And Cons Of Their Running Game, and Should Rudi Return?

Kyle StrittholtCorrespondent IAugust 15, 2009

Marvin Lewis has continued to stress the importance of a balanced running game in the time that he’s been coaching in Cincinnati. He knows that if the Bengals can have a good running game then it helps out the passing game that much more.

Bu the Bengals hasn’t had a thousand yard rusher since 2006 before Rudi Johnson injured his hamstring.

Since then the Bengals haven’t been able to do much on the ground. They expected big things out of Chris Perry, but he was a bust being injured most of his time in Cincy and fumbling the ball in key moments when he was on the field.

So far this season the running game looks to be pretty decent. The Bengals resigned Cedric Benson who was the only back to rush for over 100 yards for the Bengals last season.

They also brought in a controversial player in Bernard Scott who has a past that the Bengals were supposed to going away from.

He was a great division two college player rushing for 2,000 yards in two seasons and winning their version of the Heisman.

Last night was the Bengals first preseason game against the New Orleans Saints. Like any other preseason game you don’t really care about the outcome as long as your key players don’t get banged up before the games count.

Cedric Benson started at tailback and he looked pretty solid in his first preseason game with the Bengals. The only problem is he made the same mistake former first round pick Chris Perry did and he coughed up the ball.

The Bengals had a lot of turnovers and penalties in the game last night, and if they want to win they need to get more disciplined.

Benson ran well last night, but he needs to make sure he handles the ball a lot better from now on.

The player I was most impressed with last night was Bernard Scott. He was one of those players covered with questions, but I can see why the Bengals drafted him.

Scott ran the ball six times gaining 30 yards which is an average of five yards a carry, and he caught a screen pass and took it for twelve more yards.

I don’t think that Scott will be the starting running back just yet in Cincy, but that was certainly the effort fans are looking for.

The only thing I would like to see the team do is bring in a free agent running back. There are a lot out there that I’d like to see the team give a shot like Warrick Dunn. He would be a great asset for teaching the younger players and in the passing game.

A player that I really hated to watch leave last season was Rudi Johnson. The fans loved Rudi, and I was stunned when they let him go because there was no one to fit his role.

Now that Rudi is a free agent I think they need to bring him in and let him workout with the team to see if his hamstring is still an issue.

Having Rudi on this team was one of the biggest things that got them to the playoffs because he was such a bruiser and if you did not respect the run he would get the eight yards before you realized what happened.

I was an advocate of the Bengals drafting Chris “Beanie” Wells in the first round just because it takes a big back that can break tackles to play in this division.

Since they grabbed Andre Smith they still need a player that can break tackles when they need it, and if Rudi can be that guy then they need to bring him in.

I don’t think we will see over a 1,000 yards out of Rudi, but a lot of teams are going split backs and each of these players the Bengals would have would bring something to the table.

Scott is a speed guy who is very explosive, Benson is the guy who runs hard and has a great change in direction, and Rudi would be their guy who could pound it up the middle.

One of the things that has driven me nuts about the Bengals is they haven’t found a new offensive coordinator. Running the ball three times is not a great idea and he needs to figure that out. That is another reason that the Bengals haven’t been getting good yardage they don’t have a bruiser like Rudi anymore.   

Overall I think so far the Bengals have a good running game, but we need one more player just to make it interesting. If Benson or Scott gets hurt then they have no one else because Dede Dorsey is not a running back that can take the load.

For the future, if Scott keeps on growing as a running back I think he will be the guy and this just shows you the value of the draft.