Bernard lost two yards on his lone carry and caught his only target for 11 yards in Sunday's 34-23, Week 1 win over the Colts.
Bernard was a non-factor while Joe Mixon turned 17 carries and seven targets into 149 scrimmage yards and a touchdown. What's most concerning about Bernard's lack of touches is that Cincinnati trailed into the fourth quarter, so there was no lack of the passing situations in which Bernard usually thrives.
Mixon is headed for the lead role and a majority of carries, but Bernard shouldn't have much competition for backup work with fourth-round rookie Mark Walton replacing Jeremy Hill (Patriots). The plan could change if Mixon gets off to a slow start, considering he averaged just 3.5 yards on 178 carries last season, while Bernard averaged 4.4 on 105 totes. Both backs were effective as pass catchers, with Mixon hauling in 30 of 34 targets for 287 yards and Bernard bringing in 43 of 60 for 389 yards and two touchdowns. The Bengals improved their woeful offensive line in the offseason, trading for LT Cordy Glenn and drafting C Billy Price at No. 21 overall. There's also reason to believe a healthy John Ross could help the running game, as opposing safeties will need to be cautious if Ross and A.J. Green are both on the field. Bernard seems to be enjoying a healthy offseason, after spending last spring/summer rehabbing from a torn ACL.
With Joe Mixon back in action, Bernard had to relinquish a considerable number of snaps early in the contest, but he took over on passing downs, especially late in the game. The division of labor was a potentially good preview of how he and Mixon will operate together next season. After being a forgotten asset early on, Bernard rallied to have a productive final five weeks of the season. He ended with 458 yards on the ground with two touchdowns, averaging 4.4 yards per carry. He also enjoyed his trademark success in the passing game, logging 43 receptions for 389 yards and an additional pair of scores.
While Joe Mixon (ankle) is expected to play Sunday against the Ravens if he incurs no setbacks during pregame warmups, Bernard appears positioned to see the bulk of the carries during the contest, Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com reports.
Marginalized in the Cincinnati offense for much of the season, Bernard has come on strong over the Bengals' last four games while Mixon has been limited to just 24 snaps during that span due to a concussion and the ankle issue. Mixon was able to practice on a limited basis this week and plans to go through pregame warmups, but since it sounds like he's not quite 100 percent, the Bengals seem inclined to err on the side of caution and limit his workload. That leaves Bernard with unfettered access to the leading role, though he'll be hard pressed to replicate his success from the past few weeks against a stout Ravens defense that has allowed more than 100 rushing yards just once in its last eight games.
|3||9/23/18||@ CAR||1:00 pm|
|4||9/30/18||@ ATL||1:00 pm|
|7||10/21/18||@ KC||1:00 pm|
|Bye: Week 9|
|11||11/18/18||@ BAL||1:00 pm|
|14||12/9/18||@ LAC||4:05 pm|
|16||12/23/18||@ CLE||1:00 pm|
|17||12/30/18||@ PIT||1:00 pm|
|Year||Team||G||Fum||Lost||Fum Forced||Own Rec||Opp Rec||Yds||Tot Rec||TD|