Bernard Scott would like the ball, too. He thinks he could help the Bengals with 10 to 15 carries per game. And after his biggest day of the season last week with his sixth and final carry resulting in the winning two-yard touchdown run the Bengals may be headed that way.
"I think any playmaker wants the ball," Scott said before Thursday's practice. "I'm not frustrated, but if a coach or somebody is going to ask me, I'm going to tell them how I feel."
And Scott is a playmaker. When he was a rookie two years ago, he had a big hand in winning the division with a kick return against the Steelers along with a 100-yard game in Oakland, and last year he averaged 4.9 yards per his 61 carries.
Cedric Benson, of course, wants the ball, too, and he's been vocal enough that offensive coordinator Jay Gruden doesn't mind tweaking him about how closely he guards his carries. Even on Wednesday, Benson talked about how he dislikes talk that the Bengals are trying to keep him fresh.
"I usually excuse the conversation as fast as I can because I don't want to hear anybody try to tell me I'm going to wear down because of hits or something," Benson said. "I do a lot of stuff to make sure I'm ready to go every week. Whether it be through chiropractic work or massage or even diet. Those things are just things I guess they've seen over the league and is how they feel."
There is no magic formula. The Packers are 5-0 with James Starks and Ryan Grant splitting the load and the Lions are 5-0 with Jahvid Best carrying the load. The Raiders are 3-2 with Michael Bush getting a third of Darren McFadden's carries and the Bengals are 3-2 with Benson having the second most carries in the NFL at 101.
Yet Gruden loves Scott's speed and cutting ability and head coach Marvin Lewis is getting him into the game sooner. Last week it was the second series and for the second straight week he started a series in the fourth quarter. Then he was on the goal line for the big play. But he's only getting 2.9 yards per carry after coming into the season with a 4.6 career per.
"I got in more but at the same time I haven't really got into a rhythm," Scott said. "I think once I get into a rhythm I think you'll see more of my skills take over."
Scott is going to stay out of it. He knows why Benson wants the ball ("I don't let that get to me that he gets kind of upset when the ball's not in his hands; he's a competitor," Scott says) because he's the same way.
"Both of us want the ball and it's really out of both of our hands. I just leave it up to the coaches," Scott said. "I think there's other ways to get playing time. If they see I'm out there working hard and doing everything they ask me to do. The (fourth quarter) showed they have confidence in me. I think as the season goes on I'll get more opportunities."
By the way, if Benson plays all 16 games he's on pace for 323 carries, two more than last year for the fifth busiest season in Bengals history.
INJURY UPDATE: Middle linebacker Rey Maualuga apparently hurt his ankle in practice Thursday because he surfaced on the injury report as limited after being full go on Wednesday.
Also limited were safety Chris Crocker (knee) after he didn't work Wednesday and cornerback Kelly Jennings (hamstring) for the second straight day. Wide receiver Ryan Whalen (hamstring) didn't work Thursday after being limited Wednesday. After being limited Wednesday, running back Brian Leonard (groin) and tight end Donald Lee (groin) were full go Thursday.
Colts running back Joseph Addai (hamstring) told The Indianapolis Star on Thursday that he's a longshot to play Sunday.