Jeremy Hill replaces Giovani Bernard as starter, Colt McCoy expected to be cleared
The Bengals are making a change at running back, Jay Gruden sounds confident McCoy will start this weekend and word has it that the Rams plan on bringing Sam Bradford back next season.
Giovani Bernard has officially had his starting spot nabbed. Bernard, the 2013 second-rounder who was supposed to become Cincinnati’s feature running back, said Thursday that rookie Jeremy Hill will be the starter when the Bengals play the Cleveland Browns, according to ESPN.
The demotion isn’t so much about Bernard’s failures as it is about Hill’s successes. Hill, himself a second-round pick last May, showed out during Bernard’s brief injury absence earlier this season, averaging 120 yards per game over three starts. The Bengals have employed a two-back system since Bernard’s return in Week 12 (they played nearly identical number of snaps last week), but offensive coordinator Hue Jackson said Wednesday he wants to get back to featuring a single back.
“I’m used to having one guy kind of dominate some carries because, in order for backs to be really good, they’ve got to get lathered up to play,” Jackson said. “You’ve got to get a feel for the game.”
There’s no doubt that Hill has been the more efficient back this season, averaging 4.8 yards on his 152 carries. Bernard has averaged 3.9 yards on 142 carries but has scored one more touchdown.
Jay Gruden confident Colt McCoy will start
We’ve been hearing all week that Colt McCoy will start over Robert Griffin III, but with the caveat if he’s healthy. It was the same story on Thursday, but Washington coach Jay Gruden sounded decisively optimistic that McCoy will be cleared to play through his neck injury on Sunday, according to CSNWashington.com.
“Just a precautionary thing, just to make sure everything is good and there’s no risk of any injury,” Gruden said of a doctor’s visit on Friday that will determine whether McCoy can play against the New York Giants. “It looks pretty positive right now.”
Gruden, who’s rumored to be done with RGIII, once again gave McCoy his vote of confidence.
“We’ve had looks at all three quarterbacks and based on what we’ve see out at practice for the whole training camp and offseason and game situations, right now we feel that Colt is in the lead,” Gruden said. “So, if he’s healthy and he gets a full clean bill of health, he’ll be our starter Sunday.”
Rams want Sam Bradford back next season
For many, it was a foregone conclusion that the St. Louis Rams would be parting ways with Sam Bradford this offseason. But NFL Network’s Albert Breer reports that the team plans on having Bradford back in 2015.
Bradford went down with an ACL tear for a second season in a row, and even when healthy, his play hasn’t been consistent enough to warrant his monster contract. Meanwhile, the Rams have gone 3-1 over the last month under veteran Shaun Hill, who has thrown five touchdowns and two picks in that span.
But Bradford is currently the only quarterback under contract in St. Louis through 2015. Breer did report that the Rams will likely add a quarterback in next year’s draft, but that the former No. 1 overall pick remains in play to be the starter next season.
Pete Carroll says Jim Harbaugh is “a fantastic football coach”
“I’ve never seen him not be a really good coach,” Carroll told ESPN as his Seahawks get ready to play the Niners on Sunday. “He’s a fantastic football coach. I’ve watched him do all the stuff he did at Stanford and turned that program around. What he’s done at the Niners, I know that he’s a great football coach.
“Not everybody likes everybody or gets along with everybody but sometimes you don’t see the magic that guys have. I think he’s a fantastic football coach; he’s proven that. There’s no question about that.”
The praise comes as rumors of Harbaugh’s impending departure from San Francisco continue to heat up. Harbaugh, whose team is on the verge of playoff elimination, has been linked to both the Oakland Raiders and the University of Michigan.