And the last laugh might be on most of the other teams in the NFL.
Jeremy Hill, the 55th overall pick of the draft, has emerged as one of the top young running backs in the NFL.
The former LSU star has supplanted Bernard, whom the Bengals drafted ahead of Le'Veon Bell and Eddie Lacy, as the Bengals’ starting running back and rushed for 1,024 yards and nine carries.
The 6-1, 235-pound Hill has rushed for 295 yards the last two games and is averaging 5.1 yards per carry.
Not that Bernard, who is 5-foot-9 and 208 pounds, is the forgotten back.
The North Carolina product has rushed for 672 yards and five touchdowns and also caught 36 passes for 293 yards and a score.
“I have aspirations of those guys being extremely special,” Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson said.
Here is what the Steelers are saying about Hill and Bernard.
Coach Mike Tomlin: “Jeremy Hill is a big back. We had a strong interest in his talents because he is talented. He is big. He is powerful. He runs behind his pads. He also has the type of agility that makes him difficult to deal with for a big man. Bernard is doing what he has always done. He is a positive contributor in every aspect of the game.”
Safety Will Allen: “Both of those guys are tough runners but Bernard’s more of a slash-type runner, quicker. Hill is more downhill, power runner, stiff-arm guy, a tough runner that you need, especially in the AFC North.”
Linebacker Sean Spence: “Jeremy Hill can get the tough yards and break a lot of tackles. Giovani Beranrd also runs hard but he’s a lot shiftier. They don’t run him on the same runs as Hill, who pounds it inside. They get him outside and use him out of the backfield.”
Outside linebacker James Harrison: “[Hill] is a downhill, power runner, [Bernard] is a slasher. He is becoming more of a specialized, third-down, spring him out of the backfield, pass-catching type of back. It’s just something you’ve got to deal with. We don’t want any team to be able to run the ball on us. That’s our philosophy every game.”