After seeing Cedric Benson log at least 270 carries for three straight seasons, the Cincinnati Bengals plan on installing more of a running back-by-committee approach in 2012.
Benson, who's rushed for at least 1,000 yards each of those seasons, is set to become a free agent next month and might not be back in Cincinnati for a fifth season. That would leave the Bengals with Bernard Scott, Brian Leonard and Cedric Peerman currently on the roster.
"It's not a bad way to go," Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden recently told the team's official website. "Keep guys fresh. They play longer, they're involved. ... If something happens to one, you know you've got a guy that can come in there and be productive. Where you're not relying heavily on one guy and if something happens to him, youâre like, 'Oh God, this guy doesn't have many reps.' "
Gruden said the Bengals, who currently own the No. 17 and 21 picks in the first round, would prioritize running back and guard at the top of the draft.
"I think the back class is very, very good this year and I wouldn't be surprised if we walk out of here with a pretty darn good back," Gruden said.
"If you do get a big-time guy like Trent (Richardson) then I'm not opposed to giving him the ball 30 times," Gruden said.