Updated: 6:20 p.m.
With Bernard Scott expected to start in Sunday's game in Seattle (4:15 p.m.-Cincinnati's Local 12) at running back in place of Cedric Benson, Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden is turning to his scatback style to produce the long-absent long run.
The Bengals are last in the NFL with two runs of at least 15 yards, according to Elias, many miles of highlight tape behind leaders Oakland and Philadelphia with 19 each. The Bengals have just one run longer than 28 yards and that came on their last true offensive snap of the opener when the desperate Browns sold out and Benson broke a 39-yarder for a touchdown.
In the last two games the Bengals haven't had a run longer than nine yards and Seattle isn't exactly the team you look to pop the big one. The Hawks lead the NFL in allowing just 3.2 yards per carry.
But Scott is just the kind of guy Gruden is looking for Sunday.
In one of his two NFL starts back on Nov. 22, 2009 in Oakland, Scott went off on an incredible 61-yard jaunt that is the longest run of the 136-game Marvin Lewis era. From Bengals.com that day: "Scott was seemingly hemmed in for about an eight-yard gain on a sweep on the left side when he made a vicious cut to send the pack rolling into the sideline and he zigzagged all the way … but (he) couldn't run away from safety Michael Huff at the Raiders 19."
Scott shook his head before practice Wednesday. The Bengals took a tough 20-17 upset loss that day to a struggling Oakland team in a game that knocked Cincinnati out of a playoff bye.
"I should have scored on that. If I had scored on that we probably would have won," Scott said. "I was gassed. I got caught from behind. I made a couple of moves early, just got caught."
The Bengals got no points out of it on that third-quarter play. Quarterback Carson Palmer got sacked for a 19-yard loss and Shayne Graham missed a 37-yard field goal.
Since that day Scott has carried 125 times, so the man that won the Division II Heisman at Abilene Christian is hesitant to rate that one.
"It was a good run. I haven't really rated any runs yet because I haven't really got a chance to show everybody what I can do," said Scott, who was then asked if he had better runs in college.
"Yeah, I didn't get caught in college," he said.
Gruden thinks Scott poses a challenge to NFL defenses, too.
"Bernard has a greater chance to break a long one. Cedric is probably more consistent,"' Gruden said after Wednesday's practice. "Plugging away, plugging away. It might not look pretty, but he's going to be consistent. Move the pile for you and get those tough hidden yards for you. I think Bernard has great vision. He has a chance to make you miss on the second level. He has a chance to make a move and make a five-yard gain a 25-yard gain. That's something we need right now. We haven't had a breakaway run in a long time."
Scott has been watching tape of Seattle's 6-3 loss in Cleveland last Sunday and came away impressed with the speed of the linebackers, comparing them to the Jaguars defense the Bengals managed to beat despite gaining just 239 yards with only 77 on the ground.
And Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis says Seattle's second-year safeties, free Earl Thomas and strong Kam Chancellor, could be the best young tandem in the NFL. Scott says Thomas plays in the style of Pittsburgh's Troy Polamalu in that he has no fear of barging into the box at just 5-10, 202 pounds.
"They're fast to the ball. They're kind of aggressive, but at the same time they can be too aggressive and step out of lanes and I think we'll be able to take advantage of them," Scott said. "Early on it might be ugly. We just have to know it's going to be a hard-fought game and keep running the ball no matter if they stop us a couple of times. We just have to hang in there and run the ball and I think we'll pop a couple of them."
Scott's torn with those 33 carries Browns running back Montario Hardesty had for 95 yards. He's got 30 carries all this season.
"I'll be all right, 33 times?" Scott said with a smile. "Hopefully it doesn't take 33 times. I was watching film and saw a lot of lanes that were open. I think if he can go back he probably wishes he could have made different reads. I think he still had a good game overall considering that they've got a real good defense."
Scott says the start should help him not force it in his effort to pop as many big ones as he can before the Bengals go back to Benson. That's one of the reasons his yards per attempt is at 2.8 after he came into the season with a career average of 4.6.
"I'm kind of anxious to show them I can carry the load whenever I need to; but I don't put too much pressure on it," Scott said. "Every week I go in thinking I'm going to get a lot of carries because it helps me prepare for the week. I don't try to make it a big deal. You still have to go out there and play football whether you're starting or not. I feel like if I'm starting I'm going to get more opportunities. I'm going to get a better feel of the game and I'll be able to showcase my talent instead of trying to make every play a home run. Every play is not going to be a home run."
CARROLL PRAISES DEAL: Seattle head coach Pete Carroll talked about drafting Andy Dalton and contacted the Bengals about trading for Carson Palmer before this season but he said on Wednesday's conference call with the Cincinnati media that he thinks Tarvaris Jackson can be his quarterback of the future.
That future may not be Sunday against the Bengals with Carroll saying Jackson (pectoral) is looking like a game-time decision after he missed last Sunday's loss in Cleveland.
It sounds like running back Marshawn Lynch, who also missed last week when his back tightened up coming out of the locker room, has a better chance. Carroll said Lynch felt better Wednesday and may go.
Carroll also said that he and general manager John Schneider liked Dalton. But not enough to take him at No. 25, where the Seahawks went for Alabama tackle James Carpenter.
"We thought he was a great player. I really liked him," Carroll said. "John Schneider and I went into tremendous depth and had no question he was going to play and be good. I'm not surprised at all. He's a great kid and he's come on the scene in great fashion. He's really—more than a lot of guys—carried over from his college game and showed the kind of style and assets and strengths that he had in a great winning program at TCU."
Everyone figured Carroll coveted Palmer, the man he coached to the Heisman Trophy while they were at USC in 2002. Carroll said he approached Bengals president Mike Brown before Seattle signed Jackson as a free agent when camp opened.
"We were in the conversation early on. I have great regard for Carson and wanted to know what their stance was and wanted to make sure we were at least on top of what the opportunities were and there was no opportunity at the time," Carroll said. "I thought it could be a possibility for us. The background I have with Carson, it's something we definitely considered. We just tried to get a sense of what was going on until we made our decision and what direction we were going in. We wanted to be abreast of the situation if there was an opportunity and Mike just left it there was no opportunity during that time frame.
"Mike was pretty emphatic about it to everybody."
But Carroll said he wasn't surprised Brown went for it on Deadline Day last week when the Raiders offered first- and second-round draft picks.
"They made a great move to get that. They have a much better insight on the draft knowing what's going on to make it better to access their position," Carroll said. "They have a fantastic spot with those picks. It's incredibly beneficial for the long range of the program."
And there's no way Carroll would have given up that much.
"We're a program that's on the rise. We've got a lot of young guys," Carroll said. "That would have gone against our long-term projections to go that far to get it done."
SLANTS AND SCREENS
» Bengals middle linebacker Rey Maualuga says he's still shooting for a Nov. 6 return against the Titans with a severely sprained ankle that is coming along quicker than he thought. He has progressed from a cast to a boot "to protect me from myself when I'm walking or standing around," he said. He also says it's not the dreaded high ankle sprain but a lateral one that should help speed up things.
» Maualuga and outside linebacker Thomas Howard (hamstring) didn't work while cornerback Nate Clements (knee) and Dan Skuta (groin), Maualuga's replacement, were limited.
» Lewis has had to caution a very excited Adam Jones (neck) now that he's off PUP to take it easy and reminded him he has to practice well this week in order to get activated for Sunday. He was listed as full go Wednesday.
"He'll be bouncing off the walls," Lewis said of the night before what would be Jones's first game in 371 days. "I'm sure he hasn't got much sleep this week."
» Teammates like safety Chris Crocker are anxious to see Jones back. "You never know what he's going to do if he gets his hands on the ball," Crocker said.
The thinking is that Jones takes the roster spot of Benson.
» Cornerback Kelly Jennings becomes the fourth Bengals No. 1 pick in the last five games to play against the team that drafted him in Seattle. (Outside linebacker Manny Lawson against the 49ers, Clements against the Bills and safety Reggie Nelson against Jacksonville with Jones poised to go against the Titans next week.)
Jennings, traded for defensive tackle Clinton McDonald just before the season, has missed the last two games with a hamstring issue but says he's ready for his old mates and he was listed as full go Wednesday: "It's going to be strange playing against guys you know."
» Seattle is the loudest place in the NFL and right tackle Andre Smith says he'll be surprised if it's louder than playing at LSU, which he did for Alabama a few years back.
"And that was in overtime," Smith said of Bama's win in Baton Rouge.
Bengals left tackle Andrew Whitworth, who played at LSU, assures Smith it is that loud. Whitworth and right guard Bobbie Williams are the only ones left from that 2007 offense that lost out there in the last minute, but Whitworth played both left and right tackle spots that day.
» Lewis is wary of Seattle special teams ace Leon Washington, eighth in the NFL in punt returns, and compares him to former Kansas City Pro Bowler Dante Hall. Bengals special teams coach Darrin Simmons says Washington is extremely tough to bring down while having the cutting skills of former Bengals returner Peter Warrick but faster.
» The Bengals receivers were busy with hometown honors during the bye week, but it was the rookie free agent Andrew Hawkins that had an entire day named after him in Johnstown, Pa. No. 1 pick A.J. Green was the guest of honor at a ceremony in a Summerville, S.C., rec center thrown by coaches and family.
» The last time the Bengals won in Seattle, Nov. 6, 1994, is the last time before Green that they had a rookie receiver have multi 100-yard games. Darnay Scott had 157 yards a week after getting 155 against the Cowboys. The game also marked Jeff Blake's first victory as the Bengals starting quarterback.