Leon Hall ready to make a stand after Sunday's stumble.
After 13 games it sounds like Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson is moving to one running back to take the bulk of the carries and the conventional wisdom is it is going to be rookie Jeremy Hill and his 4.7 yards per average.
Since Giovani Bernard returned to the lineup three games ago against Houston, Hill has carried it 39 times and Bernard 33, but Jackson doesn't like the total average per of 3.9 yards.
"I'm used to having one guy kind of dominate some carries because in order for backs to be really good, they've got to get lathered up to play," Jackson said after Wednesday's practice. "You've got to get a feel for the game. We have two capable guys and they're different guys and we'll let it play itself out, but I think we have a pretty good idea which way we're headed…Those guys are very capable. I just don't think I did a very good job this past week."
In the 42-21 loss to the Steelers, Hill had 46 yards on eight carries and Bernard had 17 on six carries. Jackson said the plan was to run the ball more in the fourth quarter with the lead, but the Bengals lost it with about 11 minutes left.
"We were ahead and all of a sudden we thought we had a chance to make some hay there in the end. I hate to say this: That's the other side. That's when you start running," Jackson said. "You look at a runner and all the rushes start to happen. We didn't get a chance to have that happen. I thought we did some good things earlier in the game and as the game progressed, there were some other things that we had going pretty good and then you look up and it's the fourth quarter and you've only rushed it this much and then all of a sudden, the score changed. So at the end of the day, we've just got to do it better."
When Jackson was the offensive coordinator for the Raiders in 2010, he had Darren McFadden playing 13 games and Michael Bush 14 and McFadden finished with 223 carries to Bush's 158. Jackson also called the plays as the head coach the next season, but McFadden was hurt most of the year and Bush led the way with 256 carries.
Hill is on pace for 187 carries and Bernard 175.
MANZIEL DOWNPLAYS: Browns rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel passed his first test as an NFL starting quarterback Wednesday when he easily diffused the controversy surrounding Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis calling him "a midget."
"I read it on Twitter, I believe, and honestly, it's kind of one of those things you just have to kind of laugh off a little bit," Manziel said in a conference call with the Cincinnati media. "They think I'm short. Obviously I'm a little undersized, but at the same time I didn't think ever, at any point in time, that Coach Lewis meant that in a very negative way. It never really got to me or upset me at all. I kind of just went about my day and moved on and it is what it is."
HALL MARK: Bengals cornerback Leon Hall isn't looking for the deep ball. But if the Browns want to test him Sunday in Cleveland, well, so be it.
"Maybe they do. Hopefully I play it a lot better than I did before," Hall said before Wednesday's practice. "To get that little monkey off your back if you will. But…I am not going to go into the next game thinking, 'OK, let me play 10 yards off and open up early and run and hope they throw the deep ball.' Looking back at it I have to do what I'm coached technique-wise and go from there."
Hall felt his lack of technique was the major problem on the 94-yard bomb from Ben Roethlisberger to rookie wide receiver Martavis Bryant in the fourth quarter Sunday that he called one of the worst plays of his career. But even though he turned 30 Tuesday, he's not ready to throw in the towel and says his two Achilles' injuries or age have not caught up to one of the finest corners in Bengals' history.
"To be quite honest, you can't just focus on one play," Hall said. "I have a whole bunch of film from this season. You can look at it one way, it depends on who is looking at it, I guess, but I'm comfortable with my physical abilities and how much I can move left to right front to back turn and run all that stuff. I'm pretty confident if i would have played my technique just fine as I played it before that happened in the entire game I would have been OK."
He's got a point. Hall is rated lower than he's ever been by ProFootballFocus..com at No. 67 in his position group, but he's also rated higher than such highly-regarded corners as Arizona's Patrick Peterson, New England's Brandon Browner, New Orleans' Keenan Lewis, and Baltimore's Lardarius Webb. You can also put Pittsburgh's Ike Taylor on that list, thanks to Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green.
And the bolt to Bryant was just the second touchdown Hall has allowed this season. Only five players have allowed fewer among corners who have played 75 percent of his team's snaps.