For one, Bernard was the first running back selected in the draft. Another reason is Bernard has one of the starring roles in HBO's "Hard Knocks." I actually don't even remember seeing BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who is the Bengals' starting running back, in the first episode.
But, judging by Bernard's recent comments, no critic is tougher than himself. Bernard wasn't happy about his performance in the preseason opener last week, when he managed 44 total yards on 13 touches (10 carries and three catches).
“For me, if I were to give myself a grade, I wouldn’t even want to put the grade out there,” Bernard told The Cincinnati Enquirer. “I am really hard on myself. That’s just how I am. That’s how I’ve always been.”
Most have compared the 5-foot-9, 208-pound to the Baltimore Ravens' Ray Rice (5-8, 212) and the Jacksonville Jaguars' Maurice Jones-Drew (5-7, 210), both of whom were second-round picks as well. But you have to remember Rice and Jones-Drew weren't Pro Bowl runners as rookies. In fact, they were backups as rookies just like Bernard.
In 2008, Rice was in a running back-by-committee with Willis McGahee and Le'Ron McClain. He had 454 yards rushing on 107 carries and 33 catches for 273 yards receiving. That's an average of 10.7 touches per game.
In 2006, Jones-Drew backed up an established back in Fred Taylor. Jones-Drew ran for 941 yards on 166 carries, and added 46 receptions for 436 yards. That's an average of 13.2 touches per game.
If Bernard reached these types of numbers as a rookie, the Bengals would be pleased with this immediate production as well as what lies ahead with this explosive runner.