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Gio gets some consolation

Posted Feb 1, 2014

Packers running back Eddie Lacy may have won the Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year, but Bengals running back Giovani Bernard got a consolation pat on the back from a Hall of Famer.

Updated: 7:50 p.m.

NEW YORK — Packers running back Eddie Lacy may have won the Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year on Saturday night at the NFL Honors, but Bengals running back Giovani Bernard took the highlights trophy when some of his most spectacular dives and runs were displayed on the big screen before the announcement at Radio City Music Hall.

Lacy's 1,178 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns trumped Bernard's 1,209 scrimmage yards and eight touchdowns. Lacy figured it was between him and Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen. But he's also an admirer of Bernard's game.

"He's a flashy guy, a big playmaker. You get him out in space and the possibilities are endless," Lacy said. "There are a lot of spectacular plays that he's made and he's going to continue to make them through his years in the NFL."

Lacy turned the tables a bit on Bernard, the first back taken in last April's draft when the Bengals took him with the 35th pick early in the second round out of North Carolina. Lacy, out of Alabama, had to wait 26 more picks.

"I don't look at it like that. Coaches and teams pick who can fit their style of offense," Lacy said. "It's not a grudge thing or it's not a you were picked first and I wasn't but I did win. I just wanted to come out and play like I was capable of playing."

Allen won the Pepsi Next Rookie of the Year vote on NFL.com from a field of Bernard, Lacy, Vikings wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson and Bills linebacker Kiko Alonso.

But Bernard got a nice consolation prize Friday night when he was at an event here also attended by Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk. Faulk got to Canton with Bernard's type of versatility out of the backfield, although Faulk could have been voted in as either a back or wide receiver.

"He came up to me and that was kind of surprising," Bernard said. "He's a guy I've definitely admired."

But truth be told, Faulk, an analyst for NFL Network had to be sold on Bernard before he approached him Friday night. Faulk wasn't all fired up about Bernard after watching him at the NFL scouting combine or when he watched his tape at North Carolina.

But then the games began. And Faulk came clean this weekend.

"I felt like he was a work-in-progress," Faulk said. "I went up to him last night and said, 'Kid, I felt like you could probably play at this level, but I didn't think you would have an impact in the AFC North so soon.'

"He had a really good year. As an analyst, I have an opinion but it doesn't mean that I'm always right. He's special. He gave them the ability to stretch the field. He made the defense come up and they were able to throw the ball deep to A.J. (Green)."

 

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