Gio Bernard was one of the stars of Friday night's Bengals practice, including a 1-yard touchdown where he bulled his way into the end zone.
The 5-9, 208-pound halfback displayed his familiar shake early on, as he broke some long runs. Near the end of practice, Bernard also showed his power as he charged in to score. It was as plausibly "live" as could be, with tackling allowed.
"Goal line is just all about determination, who wants it more," Bernard said.
The touchdown came harder than it sometimes might, with regular tackles Andrew Whitworth (calf) and Andre Smith (concussion) sidelined. Marshall Newhouse and Will Svitek, both NFL veterans, filled in for Whitworth at left and right tackle, respectively.
"It might be like that, you never know," offensive coordinator Hue Jackson said. "Whoever's out there we're going to coach them. There's no excuses. Whoever's playing right tackle, left tackle, guard, it doesn't matter, they've got to get it done. That's pro football."
Bernard shows glimpses of rookie year in camp
It took second-year veteran Bernard a couple of tries to score, as he became entangled with tight end Tyler Eifert on his first try. But Bernard was not alone in his battles, as rookie No. 2 draftee Jeremy Hill also was stuffed near the goal line on his one try.
Hill, a bruiser at 6-1 and 238 pounds, expects to score more often than not in such short-yardage situations.
"We've got to pull through a little stronger and score on more of those attempts at the goal line," Hill said."
BALL SECURITY: Hill also fumbled earlier in practice, with backup Jason Campbell at quarterback.
"It was me, on the quarterback-running back exchange," Hill said. "Just not squeezing it tight and it popped out. No one stripped it out or anything. That's all on me. I've got to keep moving forward and getting better."
Jackson spoke to Hill about the fumble.
"It was unfortunate, but he's got to grow," Jackson said. "You can't turn the ball over. Don't turn the ball over and we'll be tough to beat. Young running back put the ball on the ground, you can't do that."
Jackson also was asked about Hill getting stopped at the goal line, as someone mentioned that goal-line power was Hill's thing.
"That's everybody's thing, it's not just his," Jackson said. "Who's ever back there carrying the ball, that's their thing. That's what they're supposed to do."
GIO'S WORLD: Bernard did his part as a rookie in 2013, with 695 yards rushing (five TDs) and 514 yards receiving (three TDs). Bernard should see the ball even more this year, as potentially the Bengals' most prolific rusher/receiver since James Brooks (1984-91).
"We have some good guys back there, but he's a terrific football player," Jackson said. "He's just got the passion, the desire. He wants it. Not that the other guys don't, but he wants to go get it. We'll give him a chance to do that."
HANG IN THERE: Jackson, on the physical nature of training camp:
"I thank coach (Marvin) Lewis for that. I think it needed to be. You need to have days like this when everything doesn't go right. You need to have days when things do go right, because you are building confidence and you are building mental toughness at the same time."By | Tom Groeschen Source Article