- Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer
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All this week the AFC North will look at the biggest concern facing each team in the division for the 2012 season.
Many would point to the lack of experience at the No. 2 wide receiver. That is a big question mark on offense, but tight end Jermaine Gresham should fill the role as a complimentary target to A.J. Green. The bigger concern is the Bengals' running game.
Coach Marvin Lewis wants his team to be a physical, run-first one. Injuries in the preseason have hurt that game plan for the Bengals. Left guard Travelle Wharton, whose strength is run blocking, is out for the season with a knee injury and has been replaced by Clint Boling, a 2001 fourth-round pick who has three career starts. The Bengals are also without center Kyle Cook (foot) and had to sign veteran Jeff Faine, who isn't a solid run blocker.
Running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis is a power runner who does a lot of damage in between the tackles. Now, two of the three starting interior linemen are hurt. Green-Ellis has been injured as well, which is why he's only played one preseason game. It wouldn't be a surprise if it took time for Green-Ellis to get his timing down with this reshuffled offensive line.
Green-Ellis, who averaged 3.7 yards per carry last season, won't provide much explosiveness to the offense. He had no 20-yard rushes among his 181 attempts in 2011. According to ESPN Stats & Information, no other running back had more rushes without a 20-yard gain than Green-Ellis last season.