With star wide receiver A.J. Green pulled with a foot injury on their first drive of the game Week 2 against the Falcons, the
The second-year player had a career day, leading the Bengals not only in carries with 27, nearly doubling his career high, but also in catches with five. His 169 total yards (90 rushing, 79 receiving) were also a career high.
Though his lone touchdown came on the ground -- a 4-yard plunge up the middle in the second quarter -- his two biggest plays came through the air. Even better, they were improvised. With a defender hot on his tail early in the second quarter, quarterback Andy Dalton pitched the ball underneath to Bernard, who promptly hurdled a defender for a 24-yard gain. On the very next drive, again with two defenders in his face, Dalton flipped the ball over the line to Bernard, who outran half the Falcons defense for a 46-yard gain.
"He yelled out, `Gio!' and I just opened my eyes," Bernard said. "It's weird. I guess it's a quarterback-running back relationship kind of thing."
Though he wasn't needed as much in the second half, allowing change-of-pace rusher Jeremy Hill to have 15 carries for 74 yards and a touchdown, Bernard gave the Bengals another glimpse of all he can do with the ball in his hands and will look to build on it Week 3 against the Titans.
Bernard was mostly held in check in the rushing game, totaling just 48 yards on 14 carries. However, he topped the 100 all-purpose-yard mark thanks to his work in the passing game. Bernard was targeted 10 times and hauled in six of those passes for 62 yards.
Bernard got 20 touches in the season opener, a number he bested just twice in his rookie season. The Bengals face the Falcons in Week 2.
Impressive rookie running back
"A smart guy says Gio gets a little more," Lewis said via NBC Sports.
Hill thoroughly outperformed Bernard in the preseason. The former averaged 4.6 YPC on 41 attempts while the latter rushed for 49 yards in 20 tries. Hill even displayed his talents as a pass-catcher with 10 receptions for 91 yards. Bernard, who has thrived in that capacity, managed just four catches for 16 yards.
The Ravens know exactly what
"Bernard does a heck of a job," Harbaugh said. "They're going to attack you on the edges with Gio in the stretch running game and toss cracks and those kinds of things that they do. Screens are a big part of his game. He's a good receiver out of the backfield. But you can't stop there with him, because he does a nice job in pass protection, and he will run between the tackles. Good pursuit, great team defense and good tackling – and thats with any back, but especially with a guy as elusive as Gio."
The Ravens experience Bernard's big-play ability last season, as he caught 13 passes for 88 yards, including an 18-yard touchdown in two games a year ago. He added 80 yards on the ground and finished with 21 total Fantasy points against them. Mind you, Bernard did that while serving ostensibly as a backup for the Bengals; he is ready to step into a much larger role this season.
The Ravens were mostly solid against opposing running backs last season, ranking ninth in the league in Fantasy points allowed. However, Bernard showed they have trouble containing him, and should be considered a solid starting Fantasy option in all formats for Week 1.
Bernard figures to be prominent in the passing game, while Hill is expected to get a lot of goal-line and short-yardage carries.
|Bye: Week 4|
|5||10/5/14||@ NE||8:30 pm|
|7||10/19/14||@ IND||1:00 pm|
|11||11/16/14||@ NO||1:00 pm|
|12||11/23/14||@ HOU||1:00 pm|
|13||11/30/14||@ TB||1:00 pm|
|15||12/14/14||@ CLE||1:00 pm|
|17||12/28/14||@ PIT||1:00 pm|
|Year||Team||G||Fum||Lost||Fum Forced||Own Rec||Opp Rec||Yds||Tot Rec||TD|
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