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Bengals get late backs

Updated: 9:30 p.m.

The Bengals tried to address their ample backfield issues late in Sunday's draft when they chose Abilene Christian running back Bernard Scott and BYU fullback Fui Vakapuna at the bottom of the sixth round and top of the seventh round, respectively.

The Bengals went into the draft looking for young depth behind No. 1 running back Cedric Benson, but they didn't get a chance for Iowa's Shonn Greene (Sunday's first pick) and they apparently weren't high enough on such players as North Carolina State's Andre Brown (fourth round), Michigan State's Javon Ringer (fifth round), and Virginia's Cedric Peerman (sixth round). With those players gone and Purdue's Kory Sheets, who didn't get drafted, and Liberty's Rashad Jennings, the last back taken, still on the board, the Bengals opted for Scott.

Scott joins a running back group of Benson, veterans Chris Perry and Kenny Watson, second-year player James Johnson, and waiver-wire pickup Gary Russell.

The selection of the 5-10, 200-pound Scott raised eyebrows as well as interest. A New York Times story from late November said Scott has been arrested at least five times and finished 18 months of probation for giving false information to a police officer during a traffic stop while attending his fourth college since 2003. On Sunday night, his lawyer, John De Voss, said that four of the five cases had been dismissed and that he wasn't convicted on the false information charge. De Voss said Scott received "deferred ejudication," which can be expunged in Texas when the terms have been met.

"He's a pleasant guy and does everything that he's asked to do," De Voss said. "I think he's now surrounded by people that care about him and support him and I don't think there's any question that he has put it behind him and is moving on."

Scott has had seasons of more than 2,100 yards and 1,800 yards on the small-school level, including a 2,165-yard season with 39 touchdowns in 2007. In '08 for Div. II Abilene, he had 353 all-purpose yards and seven touchdowns in a game.

Earlier Sunday Scott told the Cincinnati media in a conference call, "I cleared up the issues of my past. All of the mistakes I have made, I have learned from them. I have become a better person. I am ready to put all of that behind me and move forward and come to Cincinnati."

Scott appeared to be upfront about the issues: "One was fleeing when a cop pulled me over in my car. Instead of pulling over, I drove home and then stopped. I was accused of stealing an iPod, which was dropped. I had a false identification charge when I showed my brother's identification.

"Instead of reacting, now I know I have to think. I need to stay out of bad places and not let things get to me. I feel like now I can sense when something bad is going on, and I stay away from those places."

Bengals running backs coach Jim Anderson said the incidents were a few years ago and that Scott, 24, has matured.

"To be honest, he's had a little bit of a troubled past, but that was when he was a young guy. That's behind him. He's been a really good football player wherever he's been," Anderson said. "He has dominated the competition wherever he has been in football. That has been a part of him, and football is a part of him. He's a Texas kid. He's just a really good football player, and a good person. I had a chance to visit with him at the combine, and (spoke to him) numerous times on the phone. I feel comfortable with him. He's going to come in here and do the things that we need him to do to be the very best football player that he can be and help us win."

If the pick of the 5-11, 245-pound Vakapuna sounds familiar, it is. In 2006 the Bengals signed another BYU fullback after the draft in Naufahu Tahi. After nearly making the team in preseason, the Vikings plucked Tahi from the Bengals practice squad and he's coming off his breakout year in Minnesota. In fact, the Bengals signed Tahi to a one-year, $1.4 million offer sheet last month, but the Vikings matched.

"They are from the same program and are very similar coming out of college," Anderson said. "They were both running backs, and hopefully (Vakapuna), too, can make the transition that Naufahu has made (from halfback to fullback) and really be a topflight fullback in this league. He has the want-to, the size and all the athleticism. To play fullback in this league, you have to have the mental toughness to do it, and he has that."

The Bengals have added two fullbacks since Friday to join transplanted tight end Daniel Coats. Six-year veteran Jeremi Johnson is attempting a comeback since missing all last season with an injured knee.

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