CINCINNATI -- So now that it appears the Cincinnati Bengals are going to give running back Rex Burkhead opportunities to be a receiver, what will this season look like statistically for the team's primary ballcarriers?
That's the question we begin with to get Part 2 of this weekend's Bengals mailbag going:
@ColeyHarvey. Thanks for the question, Zins. The estimates below are all a guess, because that's about all one can do with statistics of any kind this time of year. We'll see how close I get to those estimates by the end of the season. Before we get into the numbers, it bears mentioning that Jeremy Hill appears in line to be Cincinnati's primary running back this season. After a banner rookie season, the Bengals will want to ride the young ballcarrier a bit more this year. He proved last season that he can take being a workhorse back, and with a full offseason finally under his belt, he has a better idea of what it will take to get through a full season. Giovani Bernard still will be an integral part of the offense, but at this time it seems that he might be less of a runner than the Bengals tried to make him last season. He and Burkhead appear to have real chances to be used in space as slot-style receivers or out-of-the-backfield pass-catchers. So, with that said, here's a super-rough projection of what we might see numbers-wise for the Bengals' ballcarriers this season, assuming the three asked about stay healthy. Hill: 240 carries/1,200 yards rushing, 40 catches/175 yards receiving; Bernard: 175 carries/750 yards rushing, 50 catches/500 yards receiving; Burkhead: 40 carries/175 yards rushing, 20 catches/150 yards receiving. If that happens, the three running backs will account for 455 carries for 2,125 yards and 110 catches for 825 yards. If this happens, these three alone would have rushed for 22 yards less than the Bengals did as a team last season on 37 fewer carries. The trio also would have nearly 200 more yards receiving than all of Cincinnati's running backs did last season. Those are some optimistic guesses, huh? Then again, had Bernard been healthy all last season, his numbers would have been dramatically higher.
@ColeyHarvey What's your guess for carries/yds, catches/yds and TDs for Hill, Gio and Rex?— Zins (@Zins30) June 5, 2015
@ColeyHarvey. For the sake of my Twitter mentions and my inbox clutter, hopefully I won't be receiving too many, Joel. But I can't make any promises. I've already heard some whispers from those who want a little quarterback controversy this summer. I've said it before, and I'll keep saying it: There will be no such position battle in August. Some of Who Dey Nation might be happy to read this, but the Bengals decided long ago who their starting quarterback this season would be. His name is Andy Dalton. If Dalton struggles even in the slightest bit over the course of the season, those whispers I'm hearing now will turn into highly audible yells, I'm most certain of that. But again, the Bengals don't appear in any hurry to give AJ McCarron action as a regular-season starter, although he'll receive plenty of reps during the preseason. I will say this, though. Both quarterbacks have looked pretty sharp at times during OTAs. But again, they're only wearing shorts and helmets right now. The real test comes how their performance now translates into training camp then, ultimately, into the season. Those quick to pull the trigger on moving McCarron into the starting ranks, slow down. That day might come, but it's definitely not happening in the next four months.
@ColeyHarvey How many tweets/emails on McCarron starting do you expect this year? No kidding, any chance this year if AD struggles mightily?— Joel418 (@Joel418) June 5, 2015
@ColeyHarvey. Good question, Nick. It certainly will be interesting to see what the Bengals do about the position later this summer. While we've spent a lot of time recent days discussing the battles at backup quarterback, running back and receiver, this might be the most pivotal one to the Bengals' season. After all, Cincinnati ranked last in sacks last season. A big reason for the disappointing ranking stemmed from the lack of pressure generated by the interior of Cincinnati's line. Geno Atkins wasn't very effective. He looked like a shell of his old Pro Bowl self. It'll be important for him to get back to where he belongs this season. It also will be important he gets help with the rotations that will have to occur at the position. A year ago, the Bengals effectively had four defensive tackles on the regular 53-man roster. It wouldn't be surprising if they reprise that number this season. If so, joining Atkins will be veteran Domata Peko, the promising Brandon Thompson and one other tackle. Pat Sims might have the inside track for now since he's been around for Cincinnati's offseason workouts, but Devon Still can't be forgotten in the race, either, although he has spent the voluntary OTAs in Philadelphia with his sick daughter. Kwame Geathers and DeShawn Williams also will be competing for the final roster spot.
@ColeyHarvey what DTs do you think make the final roster?— Nick Stephens (@N_Steezy4) June 5, 2015