Blame the head coach.
"I think the key thing with Gio all year long was trying not to wear him out, get him worn out," Marvin Lewis said of his rookie rusher to CBSSports.com at the NFL Owners Meeting in Orlando. "That's what I would have to caution the coaches all the time because they kept pushing to have Gio in there more and more and more but I kept cautioning that you're shooting for a 20-game season and to make sure that he's not nicked up and he still can be what we need over those 20 weeks."
There's no question what kind of player Bernard proved himself to be last year, topping 1,200 total yards and eight touchdowns on just over 225 total touches. So when Lewis was asked what the expectations were for Bernard in 2014, he dropped some philosophy on rookies.
"I think that for young guys that get a chance to play as a rookie, after that first season, you could talk to them all and they exhale and say 'it's over,'" Lewis said. "Because they've been training to get through the combine because someone told them that really mattered a lot instead of figuring out that what they did on tape really is what mattered.
"And then for a guy like (Gio), there's a confirmation of how fast is he exactly, how strong is he exactly, what kind of person is he. His body of work was already completed at North Carolina and then those are the addendums that were kind of put on him.
"But then they get an opportunity this offseason to take that sigh of relief and then mature and grow. I witnessed in Ray Rice since his rookie year in Baltimore and then from ['08 to '09] and the difference in him. We're hoping that Gio can take those same steps."
Just for reference, Rice went from 140 total touches and just over 720 total yards to over 330 total touches with over 2,000 total yards and eight total scores.
Bernard sure has a lot to live up to in 2014, but there's no doubt he has the talent to deliver.