Posted on: November 18, 2009 9:03 pm
Larry Johnson is a Cincinnati Bengal. It was obvious that he'd land on his feet after the Chiefs cut him, but the expectation was that he'd have a decent-sized role. Not a starting job, but at least something where he'd get 10 touches a game.
Head coach Marvin Lewis threw water on that the day before he signed but eased a little on Johnson being "a fourth running back" with "a chance to be active" the day after he signed.
It's understandable for the Bengals to put Johnson behind Cedric Benson, but behind Bernard Scott and Brian Leonard? A veteran running back with some gas in the tank riding behind a rookie who's returning kickoffs and a third-down back known more for his hands and shoulders than his feet?
It might not make sense to you, but it makes perfect sense to the Bengals.
"The guys who have been here, we can't underestimate them," said Bengals running backs coach Jim Anderson in an exclusive Q&A with CBSSports.com. "Bernard Scott did a heck of a job, Brian Leonard has done an exceptional job for us on third downs. Jeremi Johnson's done a good job blocking for us. So we can't underestimate those guys, the focus can't go totally on Larry. He's coming in and helping us and it's our job to get him ready and prepared so that he can do the very best so that he can help us."
Anderson called the Bengals' offense "a different language" and stressed to CBSSports.com that it will take time for Johnson to not only understand the playbook but to "be exact in what situations we put him in to be successful."
It's not like Fantasy Football -- the Bengals simply can't put him on their lineup, hit the submit button and expect him to play well. When asked when and how Johnson will contribute, Anderson was vague.
"Only time will tell," he said.
But this doesn't mean the Bengals don't know what they have in him. Obviously they know his strengths and do have expectations on when he'll be a contributor.
"He's a veteran player. He's got skins on the wall and he's played this game, and he's a big guy," Anderson said. "And when the weather breaks here in the north, it's a plus for us to have a big guy."
Of course, Benson is no twig, either. Anderson said he doesn't expect his role to change and that he's not scared of opening Benson up to injury by continuing to feed him the ball so many times per game. That includes Benson's hip injury that forced him to take mental reps in practice on Wednesday.
"I don't think you get scared. Sometimes it's all about the tempo of the game and how you perceive the tempo of the game," Anderson said. "He doesn't take the whole workload, it just appears that way in regards to running the football and some other things. But other guys are sharing the load and that takes a little bit of the burden off of him.
"It's not how many times you carry it, it's what you do when you do carry it."
Anderson had a bright outlook on rookie Bernard Scott's future. It was Scott who took over for Benson in Week 10 at Pittsburgh. While his numbers playing on offense weren't anything to write home about, 33 yards rushing on 13 carries with a 21-yard catch, Anderson sees his athleticism and desire to play any way he can.
"He knows how to play the game and he was a highly productive guy in college. We know he can bring those things to us in every phase," Anderson said. "And the big thing with Bernard, like he showed, is that he wants the opportunity to play. He wants to make the most of it."
Does this mean that Scott will either start or see relevant playing time this week at Oakland?
"You can't just put your finger on those opportunities. You don't know when they're going to happen," Anderson said. "But that's the whole thing about this game: It's best to be prepared and not to be called on than to be called on and not be prepared."
And that's advice that applies to Larry Johnson as well.
"We had a good first day [with Johnson] and we're just looking towards what we're going to put in for the rest of the game plan and take that and digest that and take that to the practice field and execute," Anderson said. "All the little things you've got to put together, and we'll see how it all turns out."
Week 11 should give us some indication.
Posted on: March 6, 2008 2:02 pm
So we started our SECOND Fantasy mock draft of the offseason late yesterday afternoon. We're through half of the first round. If you'd like to follow it, you may do so here: www.sportsline.com/nfl/fantasy/stor
Here's the first round thus far:
2. Westbrook (Surprise!)
3. Adrian Peterson
4. Steven Jackson
So that left me to pick at 6. After ruling out Tom Brady (hard to expect him to repeat 51 touchdowns, strong QBs are plentiful), I was down to Larry Johnson and Frank Gore. Here's how I battled it out in my head ...
Johnson's pros: Is the Kansas City offense ... runs the ball often, catches the ball, works at the goal line, will get a lot of work, but not 350 touches over a season ...
Johnson's cons: Coming off a foot injury that was misdiagnosed/misunderstood ... O-line still a mess ... QB is still a mess ...
Gore's pros: Is a huge chunk of the San Fran offense ... should be back on for a ton of work after getting lost in the shuffle somehow in 2007 ... gets goal-line carries, receptions ...
Gore's cons: DeShaun Foster just signed, he might take some reps ... health always an issue with him ... QB is a mess ... O-line is still iffy ...
But what sold me on Gore: Mike Martz. Because I expect Martz to lean on Gore in his play calling instead of what he did in Detroit, I figure Gore will have a big year yardagewise. Touchdowns should factor in, too.
LJ's foot also scared me off. I need to know if it's a Lisfranc or not (everyone's mum on the injury). We may never know.
I'll continue to share my thoughts on my picks throughout this mock draft, and I promise to take at least one rookie running back.
The rankings have been updated. As I've been doing all offseason long, here's a look at why who has gone where. You can find the positional rankings here: http://cbs.sportsline.com/fantasy/f
ootball/rankings and the top 200 here: http://www.sportsline.com/fantasy/f
ootball/rankings/top200. If you like this feature, or have a suggestion on how to improve it, please leave a comment below or email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
T.J. Duckett goes to Seattle. When everyone I know heard this news, the first thing they asked was 'What does this mean for Shaun Alexander?' I use this analogy: Let's say your boss hired a person to help you do YOUR primary job. Assuming it's not a secretary or a college intern, chances are it means that you're not getting the job done to your boss' satisfaction. Apply that to Alexander's stature in Seattle and you have an idea of what it means. Granted, everyone in the Seattle-area papers are saying that Duckett was someone the club wanted last offseason, too, and that Alexander will still start. That's all well and good, but I'm telling you right now that he's either going to lose or has lost his goal-line job, and that's a killer since Alexander isn't a speedster anymore. Alexander is a solid No. 3 Fantasy RB (that's right -- you're BENCHING him if you start two running backs in your league); Duckett's value is up since he'll see some work in 2008, and that also affects Maurice Morris, who will likely lose some carries with Duckett around.
Javon Walker signs with Raiders. Potentially explosive risk/reward player here. If he's healthy (he passed the Raiders' physical), Walker has a shot to be a stat machine. JaMarcus Russell, as unpolished as he may be, has an absolute cannon for an arm, and Walker is a good deep-ball receiver. And the Raiders aren't expected to be in many tight, close, low-scoring games. Wouldn't surprise me if they're playing from behind a lot next year. That means lots of passing, especially with Russell at QB, and that should be good for Walker. The only addition that could make Walker even more dangerous is if the Raiders draft Darren McFadden. But his knee is a HUGE "IF." We've got him ranked as a low-end No. 3 Fantasy WR, and we have him tabbed as a potential sleeper for '08.
By the way, Russell and McFadden on the same team? Wow, Oakland would have the potential to be really, really good. If they had any semblance of a secure coaching structure in place, I'm sure they would consider taking him at No. 4. But since they don't, I expect them to pass on "DMC."
Tidbits: Marty Booker is a HUGE Fantasy winner thanks to his signing in Chicago. He has a shot at 60-to-80 receptions with a low average and maybe six touchdowns. A week ago, he wasn't ranked! Now he's 53rd among Fantasy WRs. ... Julius Jones appears headed for backupsville, which hurts his Fantasy value. Still has upside, though. ... Aaron Stecker stays in New Orleans, buried on their RB depth chart. Not good. ... Also not good for Pierre Thomas. ... Tatum Bell and Mewelde Moore creep into the top 70 RBs. ...
Posted on: February 15, 2008 10:41 am
While we hadn't posted an update to our rankings in almost a month (don't tell my boss), we had been updating them behind the scenes without publishing them. That changed today as our rankings have been updated.
But there's not much to comment on.
Shaun Hill up, Cleo Lemon re-debuts. Hill's re-signing with the 49ers makes him on even footing with Alex Smith for the starting job. We even thought about ranking Hill ahead of Smith (we think Hill fits better in Mike Martz's offense), but have to give the former first-round pick the benefit of the doubt (he is making more scratch, after all). As for Lemon, speculation is that he'll wind up with the Ravens at some point this offseason as Cam Cameron installs his offense there. Lemon followed Cameron to Miami from San Diego (actually, it was via trade).
Top RBs' auction values dip. Brian Westbrook, Steven Jackson and Adrian Peterson each had a buck sliced off their value, Addai dipped to $27 from $29, and Johnson fell from $27 to $23. We're not sure we'd take LJ over Frank Gore and Clinton Portis, and it's a change we might make later on this offseason, particularly if the Chiefs aren't active in free agency. We did not like Johnson's lack of knowledge about his foot injury. We may even try and contact Johnson to talk about it at some point soon.
Ahman Green down. Houston will either draft a RB, sign Michael Turner, or use a platoon in their backfield. Either way, Green's future in Houston doesn't look so bright.
No change for Justin Fargas. We weren't sure where Fargas would wind up this offseason, but with him staying in Oakland and presumably starting the year as their No. 1 RB, he stays as a top-30 Fantasy RB.
Bernard Berrian up. It looks like Berrian is going to garner a lot of attention on the free-agent market. Berrian is an excellent speed receiver with good hands, and there are always clubs looking for players like him. A team that wants a player will use him prominently. The Bears really should franchise him, but assuming they don't, he's going to get his choice of where he wants to play. My money's on him signing somewhere warm.
D.J. Hackett, Reggie Brown down. Hackett's ankle will cost him big bucks on the free-agent market, and Brown's potential for 2008 seems limited, so we wanted to drop him to a more appropriate place.
TIGHT ENDS, KICKERS
Chris Cooley's auction value up. With Jim Zorn installing the West Coast Offense in Washington, Cooley should see a bit more work go his way. But it's not enough to put him past Dallas Clark ... yet.
Randy McMichael up. Al Saunders has made stars out of tight ends in the past. McMichael is his new project in St. Louis.
Martin Gramatica up. He'll compete with Olindo Mare for the starting job in New Orleans, but the Saints didn't re-sign him to cut him over the summer. We think he'll get the job.
That's all for now. As always, please post a message if you think we're overrating or underrating anyone.