Berk's Blog - 11/25/13
By Mike Berk / follow on twitter @mike_berk
While everyone is excited by what they saw on Thursday night in Atlanta during the Bengals preseason-opening win over the Falcons, the head coach is not ready to get carried away (or carried off on his players shoulders). Marvin Lewis and the guys returned to their practice fields outside Paul Brown Stadium on Saturday, and the coach said he found some things he wasn't entirely happy with despite the 34-10 margin.
"We kind of righted ourselves last year when we started to run the ball," the coach said during his Saturday press conference. "Sometimes you throw it to run it,"he continued, "but were going to have to be able to run it."
On Thursday, their leading rusher was a back-up quarterback. Josh Johnson was fun to watch, especially while ripping off that 43-yard run. But that's not a good recipe for having a ground-oriented attack to take pressure off Andy Dalton. Rex Burkhead had 52 yards on 9 carries and rookie Gio Bernard had 10 totes, but those only covered 28 yards. Bernard, however, did reach the end zone in a goal line situation late in the second quarter.
The key to the run game, though, is of course BenJarvus Green-Ellis. As the starter, and reigning 1,000-yard rusher, his night was over fairly quickly. He only carried the ball three times.
But don't be too concerned. It's Lewis' job to find at least one fault with a preseason game, no matter how well a fault may be hidden. And don't forget this key fact: the ground game will get a big boost when OT Andrew Whitworth and OG Andre Smith round into game shape and can play a full 60 minutes.
ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 08: Osi Umenyiora #90, Corey Peters #91 and Stephen Nicholas #54 of the Atlanta Falcons tackle BenJarvus Green-Ellis #42 of the Cincinnati Bengals at Georgia Dome on August 8, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)