Bernard Scott is about to get a BIG opportunity.
My bet would be that Scott will get the starts if Benson sits, because he is a more talented running back than Brian Leonard.
In fact, it was sounding like the Bengals coaching staff was ready to increase Scott's playing time before news of Benson's suspension broke. As reported via the Cincy Jungle Thursday morning, head coach Marvin Lewis stated that "in Bernard's case, I think he's deserving to get to play more and more, to get the chance to touch the ball."
No matter what the reason, Scott's soon-to-be increased playing time has been a long time coming.
As a rookie back in 2009, Scott got two starts during the middle of the season with Cedric Benson out due to an injured hip. In those two starts, Scott average nearly 130 total yards per game. I don't know about you, but that sounds like "starter" material.
The sad news is that Scott tends to suffer from little injuries, and as such, the Bengals coaching staff has always been afraid to use him in a full capacity when Cedric Benson is healthy. What's more, Benson played healthy all 16 games last season for the first time in his career, lending Scott no extra opportunities. As a result, Scott has had very few chances to show off his amazing stuff.
However, with Benson now expected to miss three games due to a suspension, Scott should step in as the interim starter. And I wouldn't be surprised at all to see him light it up week after week.
The first reason why I think Scott will dominate is that the Bengals have a very easy schedule in Weeks 4 through 6, against the Bills, Jaguars and Colts, when he would be expected to play. Each of these teams' defenses ranked among the worst in the NFL against the run last year.
Second, Scott has always proven to be extremely talented, both during college as well as his first couple of years in the NFL. At Abilene Christian (a Division II school, mind you), Scott rushed for 4,321 yards and scored 63 rushing touchdowns, adding 93 receptions and 10 receiving touchdowns during his Junior and Senior years.
And not only did Scott perform well in his only career starts back in 2009, but his career yards per carry sits at a very respectable 4.5. His talent has never been the question. Just whether or not he would get the opportunity.
Well, that opportunity has finally arrived. And I am excited to see what kind of numbers Scott will put up. If he's still available in your league, scoop him up fast. I wouldn't be surprised to see Scott win the starting job from an aging Benson whose rushing skills are on the decline.
*Update: Per Rotoword, the Cincinnati Inquirer confirms Scott will start in Benson's place
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