The Bengal “Gabbies” are handed out at the conclusion of the season in recognition of those individuals that made outstanding contributions to the Bengals’ season. Next up is the James Brooks Gabbie, awarded to the best acquisition via trade or free agency of the 2009 season.
- Defensive Tackle Tank Johnson: The “Tank” came to the Bengals after being let go by the Cowboys following the 2008 season and provided some needed depth and toughness at the defensive tackle position. Johnson had difficulty fitting into Dallas’ 3-4 scheme, but was much more comfortable in Mike Zimmer’s 4-3, finishing with 29 tackles and 2 sacks on the year. He drew numerous double-teams from opponent’s interior linemen, allowing linebackers like Dhani Jones and Rey Maualuga to make plays. A tough professional, Johnson played the second half of the season through a painful foot injury as other DT’s Domata Peko and Pat Sims were sidelined.
- Wide Receiver Laveranues Coles: A free agent acquisition from the Jets, Coles was brought in to give the Bengals another veteran receiving threat opposite Chad Ochocinco. The team was in desperate need of a vet after T.J. Houshmandzadeh left for Seattle. Coles responded with 43 receptions for 514 yards (12.0 yards per catch average) and 5 touchdowns.
- Tight End J.P. Foschi: Devastated by season-ending injuries to starter Reggie Kelly and back-up Ben Utecht in training camp, the Bengals were forced to troll the waiver wire for help at the tight end position. Foschi was signed off the street after being cut by the Raiders and became the mid-season starter. Foschi started 10 games for the Bengals, finishing with 27 receptions for 260 yards and 2 touchdowns. He also proved to be a reliable blocker in the running game, and a better pass catcher than the other active tight end on game days, Daniel Coats.
And the winner is:
Runningback Brian Leonard
Acquired in an offseason trade with the St. Louis Rams, Brian Leonard made a huge contribution to the Bengals as a 3rd-down back. The Bengals were able to rob the Rams blind by getting this playmaker from Rutgers in a straight-up deal for journeyman DT Orien Harris.
Leonard finished the season with 27 carries for 84 yards (3.1 average) and 30 receptions for 217 yards. While those numbers look pedestrian, the real stat is the number of first downs he brought to the team, either via running, catching, or blocking. It can be said that he almost single-handedly won the home game against Pittsburgh, as he lunged for 11 yards on fourth-and-ten on the final drive. He also picked up the critical yardage to get a first down in the deciding touchdown drive in the 17-10 win over Kansas City at the end of the year.
In between he could always be counted on to do his job, whatever it was, when on the field. He contributed on special teams, and was called the team’s MVP by Safety Chris Crocker, among other teammates.
Not bad for a guy that was sweating one of the last roster spots on cut-down day on Hard Knocks.
By the way, for those of you keeping score, Orien Harris was cut by the Rams and ended up back on the Bengals roster late in the season. So while the Rams got very little out of this trade, the Bengals got one heck of a role player who’s drive and determination contributed quite a bit to 2009’s success.
Congratulations to Brian Leonard! The 2009 James Brooks Award Winner!
Agree? Disagree? Let us know by posting a comment!
About James Brooks: The Bengals Gab best acquisition award is named after former Runningback James Brooks. One of the all-time great backs in franchise history, Brooks was acquired by the Bengals in a trade with San Diego. The Chargers got the overweight and overrated RB Pete Johnson in the deal. Brooks ended up playing 8 years in Cincinnati, totaling 6447 yards and 37 touchdowns rushing to go with 3012 yards and 27 touchdowns receiving. Brooks also returned punts and kickoffs during his time with the Orange and Black and was a vital part of the successful teams of the late 1980’s.
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