Morning Stripes: Getting to know Gio

November, 6, 2013
11/06/13
8:00
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Giovani Bernard is really fast. He can catch the ball, he can run with the ball, he can score with the ball. He also has an apparent penchant for flipping his smaller-in-stature frame through the air.

Those are a few of the things that after nine games, you now know about the Cincinnati Bengals' elusive rookie running back.

What you may not know is that he has one serious sweet tooth.

Before the combine in February, he ate whatever way he wanted to and didn't care. If he wanted a Snickers bar or a bag of Skittles or a cupcake, he'd eat it. Some players may be nervous about such unhealthy foods slowing them down. Not Bernard. He felt his body could handle it. Besides, he figured, I'm still 21 and my body can metabolize it all just fine.

Now that he has entered the NFL, his thinking has changed somewhat slightly. He still consumes whatever he feels like, but he isn't as quick to put junk foods into his body. At least, that's what he said in the following story that kicks off this Wednesday's Morning Stripes:
  • Before we go any further, right now, there isn't much to provide in the way of an update on Bernard from a health standpoint. Coach Marvin Lewis said Friday afternoon that he thought the back would be OK, even after having to leave last Thursday's loss at Miami with a rib injury. Perhaps there will be an update or two when the team resumes practice Wednesday ahead of this Sunday's game at Baltimore. Now, back to learning about Bernard, the young playmaker who the USA Today's Tom Pelissero wrote about over the weekend. In addition to learning about the rookie's sweet tooth, Pelissero caught up with Bernard's older brother, Yvenson, who watches his sibling the same way the rest of us do: like he's taking in a video game. Giovani Bernard's cuts and jukes and tackle-breaking mechanics are otherworldly sometimes; even to his brother.
  • One running back who has actually caused the Bengals problems in the past is the Ravens' Ray Rice. In five games career games against Cincinnati, he has seven touchdowns and is averaging more than 105 yards from scrimmage a game. This season, Rice has been far from his old dominant self, rushing for only 259 yards on 97 carries. That's good enough for a 2.7 yards-per-carry average. But like the Cincinnati Enquirer's Joe Reedy writes, if the Bengals are going to have any success Sunday, they are going to have to commit themselves to slowing him. He still is a dangerous back.
  • Ahead of what should be a full and busy day at Paul Brown Stadium, Bengals.com's Geoff Hobson has this blog filled with a series of notes ahead of Sunday's game. Among those notes include one on newly signed defensive tackle Kheeston Randall, a Texas native who was added to the 53-man roster to help shore up depth following Geno Atkins' injury. Randall came in one day after The Bengals thought they had a player signed in Christo Bilukidi. When the work permit paperwork for the Canada resident didn't go through, the NFL didn't allow Cincinnati to sign him.

Coley Harvey

ESPN Cincinnati Bengals reporter

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