The last time that the Ravens faced the Bengals, they got a glimpse of just how dangerous rookie running back Giovani Bernard can be with the football in his hands.
Bernard darted into the end zone on an 18-yard screen pass during the fourth quarter of the Ravens’ 20-17 overtime win on Nov. 10 at M&T Bank Stadium. He rushed for 58 yards on 14 carries and caught eight passes for 37 yards and a touchdown.
“I think he’s a hell of a player,” Ravens middle linebacker Daryl Smith said. “We saw that the first time we played them. They get him the ball in a bunch of different ways. When he gets the ball in his hands, he lights up. We got our work cut out for us.”
A second-round draft pick from North Carolina, Bernard has generated 1,136 all-purpose yards.
The speedy 5 foot 9, 208-pounder made all the highlight films against the Miami Dolphins with his electrifying cutback run on a sweep play to the left, reversing field to his right and breaking or eluding at least five tackles to reach the end zone.
“Gio has been outstanding for us,” Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said Tuesday. “He’s been able both to carry the ball as a rusher and make plays as a receiver out of the backfield. He’s been really dynamic for us. He’s converted short gains into longer gains, and he’s made the tough runs. He has really done a nice job all season.”
Bernard has rushed for 673 yards and five touchdowns, averaging 4.3 yards per carry. He has caught 51 passes for 463 yards and three touchdowns.
“A lot of teams are starting to pick up on, they’re trying to get that versatility type of back,” Bernard said. “Baltimore has a guy in Ray Rice that was one of his main facets was that he could catch the ball out of the backfield.
"I’m just trying to do the same. I’m just trying to be as versatile as I can be because the more you can do, the longer you can be out on the field.”