Giovani Bernard runs against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday,
October 25. The Browns won the game in Cincinnati, 37-34. Photo by Michael Mitchell
By Conrad Clowers
Herald Sports Writer
While healthy Joe Mixon will get nearly all the carries for Cincinnati in trying to move the chains. At some point Giovani Bernard will get in the game. It may be as a third down threat out of the backfield or it may be to give Mixon a breather at running back. When he does he becomes as dangerous as anyone with the ball.
If Bernard weren’t the perfect team player, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who is. Many high paid NFL backups don’t want to accept backup roles, as backup roles mean backup money. Infecting the locker room and asking for trades become the norm. Bernard has seen his carries decrease the last four seasons of his career as opposed to the first three. He went from a career high in carries of 170 in 2013 to a career low of 53 in 2019. Bernard is at his most dangerous when he is coming out of the backfield to catch a pass.
Not only has the dynamo had to accept a diminished role in the Bengal offense, the veteran got use to post season action early in his career. He was part of the Bengals’ playoff teams in 2013, 14 and 15. Cincinnati has missed the playoffs four straight seasons. After a 1-5-1 start in 2020, the likelihood of a fifth missed playoff season is ever so present.
Bernard is a Boca Raton, Florida native. After a stellar career with the North Carolina Tarheels, in which he scored 31 touchdowns and set a school record for yards per rush with 5.9, it was a given Bernard would be drafted. The Bengals selected him in the second round of the 2013 draft. No matter how or when the Bengal back’s career ends, he has already defied the odds. Bernard, who is only 5-8, is in his eight season with the Bengals. He has remained overall healthy, with only a few setbacks along the way.
For his entire career Bernard got use to catching the ball out of the backfield by former Bengal quarterback Andy Dalton. He now receives his catches from first round draft pick Joe Burrow. He has been in multiple offensive systems with multiple offensive coordinators under now multiple head coaches.
Despite all the changes, Bernard is one of the few Bengals the team has been able to count on through the years. Whether the 29-year old finishes his career in stripes or with another team after this season, he has cemented his legacy in Bengal history as a product, tough, mainstay that was able to adjust with changes and still be a productive threat for Cincinnati.