HONOLULU - Bengals running back Cedric Peerman is in Sunday's Pro Bowl mainly because he blew up kick NFL return teams at a devastating pace.
The problem is, there are no kickoffs in Pro Bowls anymore for Team Rice to take advantage of Peerman's 13 solo tackles, a major factor in the Bengals finishing third in the NFL in holding foes to an average of the 20.2- yard line on kickoffs and just three-tenths of a point off Buffalo's league lead of 19.9.
"I'm pretty sure there'll be some plenty of action on punts," said Peerman hopefully, even though both teams routinely combine for more than 100 points these days in Pro Bowls.
But Chiefs running backs coach Eric Bieniemy, a former Bengal who is coaching the Rices this week with the rest of Andy Reid's Kansas City staff, says he'll make sure Peerman gets some touches as a running back. It will be recalled that Bieniemy, a special teams titan himself, still holds the Bengals record for the longest kick return ever on a 102-yarder in Giants Stadium in 1997.
"I told Cedric we've got to get him in the game," Bieniemy said this week. "I know Cedric can play running back. And I can understand because we fall in the same category. He's obviously excelled on special teams and everybody forgets he can play running back."
Bieniemy knows because he spent some time with Peerman when Peerman was coming out of Virginia in 2009 and Bieniemy was the Vikings running backs coach. They talked at the Senior Bowl, where the Bengals coached Peerman, and at the NFL scouting combine.
"He's an unbelievable person, a great man, and a hell of a football player," Bieniemy said. "I told him, 'We're going to get you going and let everybody know you can tote the rock.'"
That will take some great coaching. On Sunday, Peerman lined up behind three of the NFL's top five rushers of 2015 on a depth chart anchored by a Hall-of-Fame candidate in the Vikings' Adrian Peterson. Peterson led the league in rushing this season and he's backed up Sunday by Tampa's Doug Martin, the No. 2 rusher. The Jets' Chris Ivory finished fifth, but he's only running third on Team Rice.
So don't tell Peerman some of the best bowed out of this deal. At least not at his spot.
Throw in the fact that Peerman didn't have a carry from scrimmage for the first time this season since he was a rookie and it will be interesting to see how they use him.
"I'm in very good company with some of the best backs in the league," Peerman said. "Coach Bieniemy said he'd sprinkle me in at some running back."