Bengals get a hold of Green-Ellis


BenJarvus Green-Ellis

Updated: 3-22-12, 6:45 a.m. The word out of Boston:

Former Patriots running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis, expected to sign a three-year deal with the Bengals on Thursday, brings a highly-regarded court-room demeanor along with his nickname "The Law Firm."

The Boston media, nicknamed themselves "The Knights of the Keyboard" by Red Sox legend Ted Williams long ago, isn't easy to please. But the writers that cover the team daily went out of their way Wednesday to say what a great guy Green-Ellis is for any locker room.

Quiet, they say, and the quintessential Bill Belichick player when it comes to saying and doing the right things. For instance, the media doubted Green-Ellis would have much to say until the Bengals announce the deal.

OK, so that's three differences right there with Cedric Benson, a top five pick in the 2005 draft who bristled when Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden tried to rotate him with Bernard Scott last season.

The 5-11, 215-pound Green-Ellis, undrafted out of Mississippi, has a rep for never putting it on the ground. No fumbles in 510 career carries. Benson lugged it 539 times alone the past two seasons, but he also fumbled it 12 times.

Green-Ellis, who turns 27 in July, has never carried it more than 229 times, but when he did he had 1,008 yards in 2010 and has scored 24 touchdowns in the past two seasons compared to 17 for all Bengals backs and 13 for Benson. A powerful inside runner, Green-Ellis is also known for not giving any ground.

Only a dozen of his 181 carries last season went for negative yardage. His play time (475 snaps) and production slipped in part last season to a toe injury.

Catching the ball isn't what Green Ellis is known for, but he's worked at it enough that he averaged nearly 18 yards per his nine catches last year. He's used to rotating. He would sit out a quarter at a time with Danny Woodhead (449 snaps) and Stevan Ridley (200) also getting work.

While the agreement with Green-Ellis ends Benson's four-year term in Cincinnati, it also suggests the Bengals are going to draft a running back next month as well as team Green-Ellis with veteran Bernard Scott and third-down back Brian Leonard in the committee approach.

The bell cow concept keeled over on the Paul Brown Stadium field and died with Benson's second fumble of the Christmas Eve fourth quarter against Arizona.

After meeting with Green-Ellis and Oakland's Michael Bush the previous two days, the Bengals chose to reach a deal with the slighter Green-Ellis and his bigger numbers. The four signings in free agency since Saturday are believed to account for an estimated $14 million under the salary cap.

While the Bengals also liked Bush, he had never rushed for 1,000 yards and while he's caught 94 balls in his career, he averages less than 10 yards per catch. He's scored 21 touchdowns in his four seasons and while he's a big back (243 pounds) suited for the AFC North, indications are the Bengals like Green-Ellis's maneuverability in Gruden's passing game.

Bengals left tackle Andrew Whitworth, who caught some of Green-Ellis's act while he was at LSU, believes he's a good fit for the AFC North.

"I've watched him through the years and he's a productive guy; he runs hard," Whitworth said. "They came out slow (in free agency), but they were lying in the weeds and came out firing. It sounds like they've not only got some guys that are going to help us, but they're good locker room guys."

Whitworth already has a scouting report on new left guard Travelle Wharton from a college teammate that roomed with him in Carolina. And Whitworth knows new cornerback Jason Allen through one of his LSU teammates that transferred to Allen's Tennessee club.

"Jason is a really good guy and I haven't talked to Travelle yet but he's supposed to be a guy that sounds like he's going to fit right in with what we're doing in the locker room," Whitworth said.

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