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Giovani Bernard can be 'every-down' back for Bengals

The Cincinnati Bengals have experimented with rookie tailback Giovani Bernard as a wide receiver in spring practices, but the coaching staff isn't ready to pigeonhole the second-round draft pick in the Darren Sproles passing-down specialist role.

As the first back selected in the 2013 NFL Draft, Bernard is more than just a sidekick to BenJarvus Green-Ellis.

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"Having evaluated (Bernard) and watched every game he played this year and had a chance to work him out, and having spent a lot of time with him," running backs coach Hue Jackson said, via the team's official website, "he has that skill set where I think he could play and be an every-down player."

We've heard similar sentiments from the Atlanta Falcons regarding diminutive back Jacquizz Rodgers, only to see him limited to a change-of-pace role. Even if a back is capable of handling all three downs, his optimal role might be considerably less.

If Bernard is as talented as his coaches believe, he will be the stronger half of a one-two punch with Green-Ellis. The Bengals will be thrilled if Bernard emerges as the James Brooks to Green-Ellis' Ickey Woods.

Follow Chris Wesseling on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.

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