Cedric Benson will serve his league-mandated one game suspension this Sunday when the Cincinnati Bengals take on the Seattle Seahawks. In his stead Bernard Scott, Brian Leonard and Cedric Peerman will have to carry the load. These three have all demonstrated themselves very capable, but it might affect offensive coordinator Jay Gruden's play calling to some extent.
Benson's absence takes away the runner who has carried 117 of the team's 167 carries. Bernard Scott should see the majority of snaps in single back formations, but he's certainly a very different runner than Benson. So far Scott has carried 30 times for 85 yards, only a 2.9 yards per carry average. He has scored one touchdown, the go-ahead score in Jacksonville. Scott is not the between the tackles bruiser who craves contact like Benson. Instead, look for Cincinnati to try to get Scott in space either with sweeps or passes out of the backfield. Scott has a 4.3 yards per carry average during his career with the Bengals.
Brian Leonard has only carried nine times this season, but has 64 yards to show for it. Leonard can run effectively between the tackles, so look for him to get those carries. He also has shown himself to be a good receiver, particularly on screen passes. He's picked up 104 yards on nine catches so far this season. Leonard is averaging 3.9 yards per carry over his five year career including two years with the St. Louis Rams. Oddly enough, he has never scored a touchdown, so this week would be an opportune time to break that streak.
The wild-card is Cedric Peerman. The second year player has only carried twice in his NFL career, none this season. Peerman saw a lot of action in the preseason and the Bengals like what he brings. He combines an ability to gain the tough yards inside with a burst on the edge and very good pass catching skills. Peerman has been a standout on special teams this season.
Cincinnati will need these three players to step up to keep the offense balanced and the pressure off Andy Dalton, making his first start at raucous Qwest Field. Seattle has struggled this season, but has the seventh ranked rushing defense in the NFL, allowing just 3.2 yards per carry. With Seattle's secondary struggling, if the Bengals can sustain a rushing attack, the Seahawks could be in for a very long day.
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