As expected, the team made a move at running back Tuesday, with both Brian Leonard and Cordera Eason injured in the Hall of Fame Game.
Eason was waived to make room for James Johnson, who’s been on-again, off-again with the Bengals the last two years. Johnson was one of the final cuts last year, but did get 9 carriers for 29 yards with the Bengals in 2008.
Concerns about Leonard’s foot have not been allayed yet with tests, and further evaluations are pending. Some are calling the injury a mid-foot sprain, while the scuttlebutt is that he has torn ligaments. Per Bengals.com, the most encouraging prognosis has him coming back a couple weeks into the regular season. Either way, it’ll be a couple more weeks before they even know how long he’ll be out.
We now have to assume the team may seriously be considering another veteran back, with Leonard heading to PUP or even IR a distinct possibility. I did make a half-hearted plea for Brian Westbrook yesterday, but there’s been no word from “respectable” media on that front. Former Bengal DeDe Dorsey would likewise be an enticing choice, but he’s currently working to make the Detroit Lions roster. It can’t hurt to call Westbrook’s agent and get a feel for his price range, unless they think his issue with concussions takes him off their list.
The Bengals have indicated that Cedric Peerman may be able to get on the field soon to give them another horse to at least make it through practice, but at this point they need to seriously look at what’s available (or soon to be available) in the running back department.
Losing Leonard for an extensive period of time would be a huge blow to the offense, as #40 was responsible for several first downs and big plays in 2009. There isn’t anyone on the roster presently with the type of versatility that Leonard brings to the table.
In other oddities, the team is attempting to move Dan Skuta, a Linebacker whom I considered to be on the outside looking in, at Fullback. Hobson indicates that Skuta was a lock to make the roster as a linebacker because of his special teams play, but then why move him to fullback? This smacks of Jason Shirley to me. Last year the team moved the massive Shirley to offense when it was clear he wouldn’t make the final cut on defense.
Speculating here, they probably like him as a special teamer, like his tenacity and ability to hit, and his smarts, and don’t want to lose him even though they don’t see him as a final roster linebacker. With Fui Vakapuna’s toughness in question and his shoulder gimpy, they are probably using this extra week of camp to see if they can make the experiment work.
Personally, I’d prefer it if we had a viable fullback in house, but I’m not against the experiment. In my view, Skuta can’t, in his worst nightmares, be as bad as Daniel Coats, whom the team will presently need to depend upon without other roster moves.
I’ve long been in favor of Coats’ removal from the team. His hands are made of stone, he can’t get open consistently, and his blocking is suspect. Hopefully by Sunday’s home opener, we’ll see what Skuta can do as a FB.
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