Hobson's Choice: Rudi hears support

Q: I am sure a lot of people are wondering this, but why do we choose to keep starting Rudi Johnson when it's been clear to be seen that Kenny Watson is the "all around" better back? Rudi just isn't cutting it and I don't understand why our O-Coordinator/Marv is choosing not to go with what Watson has been able to prove he can do.
--Eric, Cincinnati, OH

ERIC: The question has been asked down here by everyone but Jerry Springer and validated by none other than Carson Palmer. It seems Rudi just isn't 100 percent, but they seem more unhappy with the blocking and the people asking the question.

He even admits he's not 100 percent, the running game even with Watson has been absolutely comatose lately, and guys like Palmer and left tackle Levi Jones say don't blame Rudi.

Here is what Marvin Lewis said Wednesday when asked about Watson's yards per carry compared to Rudi's: "Kenny gets the ball in different situations, when the field is spread a little bit wide open and things that way. That would be part of it."

Some of it, too, may be that they also want to keep Watson fresh on third down so they can play to both of those guys' strengths. Watson is at his best catching the ball out of the backfield, running draws against passing defenses, and picking up blitzes. Johnson is a first- and second-down guy grinding for the tough yards.

And like was said after the opener, no one runs on Baltimore and Johnson logged a 2.7 yard per that night, too, on 18 carries. Offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski indicated Wednesday that what happened last Sunday no one could have run much with that defense and that blocking, and he doesn't sound like he's ready to make a move.

With Johnson's hamstring injury, the shelving of Pro Bowl right tackle Willie Anderson, and center Eric Ghiaciuc also trying to get back into it after missing the first month, everyone has to share in the reasons.

Until this season, Johnson had been as reliable as the town clerk and they don't appear ready to blow off a guy who came into this season with the most carries and fourth most yards in the NFL from 2004-2006.

How long of a leash he has probably depends on how the line plays. If it gets better and his numbers don't, what do they do?


Q: Wait a minute. You're telling me that the Colts can lose Dwight Freeney, and then immediately were able to sign Simeon Rice to the team? Why was he even a free agent at this point? The Bengals couldn't have found a spot with all the struggles and injuries on this defense to fit in a veteran like that? I must be missing something.
--Matt, Dayton, OH

MATT: Since the Colts got Rice off a waiver claim and they have one of the best records in the league, then about 30 other clubs agreed with the Bengals and passed on him. Here's a guy who is 33, has no sacks and got cut last Friday so the Broncos could go with younger players.

Put him in the Joey Porter category. It would have been a great move three years ago, but you know how miserable those guys would be here on and off the field right now? Between the two of them heading into Thanksgiving, they've got 0.0 sacks.

One of the guys that Rice played with in Tampa Bay, Broncos safety John Lynch, delivered the reasoning of the majority of most NFL teams better than any.

"I'm disappointed it didn't work out," Lynch said in USA Today. "I feel partly responsible for urging him to come here, and from the start it never worked out."


Q: I notice that Corey Mays is wearing No. 51. Does that mean we will not see Odell back next season?
--Ken B.

KEN: Thurman most likely gets another shot here, but what the number means is that Lewis isn't counting on him or waiting for him. In Marvspeak that is usually, "I'm going to talk only about guys who are on our football team."

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