With the Bengals calling up rookie running back Daniel Herron from the practice squad Tuesday to fill the slot vacated by rookie wide receiver Mohamed Sanu's trip to injured reserve, that would indicate backup running backup Cedric Peerman has one of those nagging ankle sprains that could put his availability in doubt.
The other move that could come as soon as this week is center Kyle Cook coming off injured reserve. Also on Tuesday, the Bengals filled Herron's spot on the practice squad with former University of Cincinnati wide receiver Vidal Hazelton after he spent spring practices and training camp with them.
Peerman has not only been a key special teams performer for three seasons, but he was just coming into his own as a speedier change-of-pace back for BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Before he injured his ankle last Sunday in San Diego, Peerman had carried the ball 22 times for 157 yards in the three previous games. One of those included a 32-yarder off a fake punt to go along with a 48-yarder back in September in Jacksonville.
Despite Herron's promotion, it's doubtful he's next to see a lot of carries if Peerman can't go. Third-down back Brian Leonard is the only other healthy back and his experience would dictate he'd the get the nod for non-BJGE carries. Herron, a sixth-rounder out of Ohio State, isn't seen as a speed guy in the mold of Peerman or running back Bernard Scott and the Bengals didn't think he was ready back in October when Scott suffered a season-ending torn ACL Oct. 7 against the Dolphins.
Herron had 42 yards on 25 carries and five receptions for 26 yards in the preseason before he was waived in the last cut on Aug. 31 and signed to the practice squad Sept. 1.
Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden indicated back in October he was looking for Herron to keep adjusting his game to the Bengals offense and learning the playbook. The 5-10, 215-pound Herron had a durable big-time career at Ohio State, where he averaged nearly five yards per his 592 carries encompassing 41 games and 22 starts, and the Bengals opted to go with him rather than a veteran on the street not familiar with their system.
"(Herron) is developing. It's just hard right now, practice squad you don't get a lot of reps with our stuff," Gruden said the day after Scott got hurt. "He's mainly doing cards, running between the tackles and they are drawing up a defense to stop it. So he doesn't get great looks and you can't really see him do what he can do. He's got a ways to go. If we have to bring him up later or something happens to somebody else, hopefully he's been attentive and he'll be ready to go also."
If Peerman can't go, there would be a ripple effect on special teams. Chris Crocker is the backup personal punt protector as well as a starting safety. It's seen as an important enough position that Crocker would probably still get the call because of his experience at the spot.
Hazelton, a first-year player who finished last season on the Bengals practice squad, had three catches for 23 yards in four preseason games. He was also waived in that Aug. 31 last cut and on Sept. 3 signed to the Tennessee practice squad. The Titans released him Oct. 23. With Sanu on the shelf with a broken fifth metatarsal in his foot, the 6-2, 209-pound Hazelton can give the other six receivers rests by taking some snaps.