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Giovani Bernard might play some receiver for Bengals

The Cincinnati Bengals have leaned on a long line of power backs in the bruising AFC North, but rookie Giovani Bernard brings something different.

When the Bengals made the former North Carolina star the top runner taken in the 2013 NFL Draft, the Bengals' official website reported that running backs coach Hue Jackson preferred Bernard's speed and versatility over Le'Veon Bell, Montee Ball and Eddie Lacy. Bernard is a solid bet to steal plenty of carries away from BenJarvus Green-Ellis, but that's not all.

Jackson -- enamored with Bernard's speed -- said the rookie also was used as a wide receiver in spring practices, and the coach suggested we'll see more of that during the season.

"He's so natural catching the ball. He can catch it like a receiver," Jackson said. "I knew he could catch it really well, but I wouldn't be surprised if he could go out there and line up outside and catch balls like some other guys can because he has that skill set."

We argued before the 2013 NFL Draft that the Bengals desperately needed to find an X-factor on offense, and Bernard fits the bill.

Along with Bernard, rookie tight end Tyler Eifert was seen lining up all over the field during spring sessions. Chalk it up as another hint that the Bengals' offense will veer away from some of the sleep-inducing performances we saw late last season.

Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.

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