Bernard ended the 2020 season in Week 17 with only three carries for seven yards, playing just 16 offensive snaps. He ended the season with 416 rush yards on 124 carries, good for a mere 3.4 yards per carry. He also had 47 receptions for 355 yards, and had a combined six rushing and receiving touchdowns. Bernard filled in adequately for an injured Joe Mixon, but had too many games like Week 17, even with Mixon out. He signed for one more year for his age 30 season, carrying a cap number of nearly $4.8 million.
Bernard carried the ball 16 times for 65 yards in Week 16 against the Texans. He added seven receptions on eight targets for 66 yards. Bernard worked as the Bengals' primary back, though Samaje Perine's involvement ensured he couldn't replicate his Week 15 workload. Even with fewer rushes, Bernard was excellent as a receiver and led the team in receptions. That made up for Bernard's relative lack of success on the ground, as he gained five yards on only five of 16 rushing attempts. Bernard's involvement in the passing attack should give him a safe floor even if Perine remains involved for the team's Week 17 matchup against the Ravens.
Bernard carried 25 times for 83 yards and a touchdown and secured his only target for a 14-yard score in the Bengals' 27-17 win over the Steelers on Monday night. The veteran running back had topped out at 15 carries during his extended stint as the top back while Joe Mixon (foot) has been on injured reserve, but Monday night he was treated as a bell cow by coach Zac Taylor. The bump in workload was especially significant when considering Bernard had seen just three rushing touches in Week 14 against the Cowboys after fumbling early in the game. He may not see similar volume on a short week when the Bengals face the Texans in Week 16, but the matchup in that contest is a premium one.
Bernard rushed the ball three times for eight yards in Week 14 against the Cowboys. He added three receptions for 15 yards. Bernard began the game as the Bengals' lead back, but he fumbled on his first carry of the game. He was benched as a result and didn't log another target or reception until the third quarter. Bernard managed to turn things around a bit from there, logging receptions of nine and four yards. Assuming Joe Mixon (foot) is unable to return for the team's Week 15 matchup against the Steelers, Bernard should return to the lead back role. However, he has failed top 35 yards on the ground in each of his last five contests.
Bernard rushed 12 times for 30 yards and secured both targets for minus-1 yard in the Bengals' 19-7 loss to the Dolphins on Sunday. Bernard logged another start for Joe Mixon (IR, foot) and once again struggled to find consistent running room. The veteran continues to be miscast in a lead-back role, having gained 37 yards or fewer on the ground in five of the six games Mixon has missed. However, there's reportedly a solid chance Mixon is back for a favorable Week 14 matchup against the Cowboys, a development that would relegate Bernard back to the complementary role he's much better suited for.
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