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Monday, March 19, 2012
Bengals turn focus to running backs

By Jamison Hensley

The Bengals take their first step in replacing Cedric Benson on Monday, when they host two free-agent running backs, Michael Bush and BenJarvus Green-Ellis.

Green-Ellis
Bush
Bush
It's interesting to note that Bush is visiting Cincinnati on Monday, but he already met coach Marvin Lewis last week at Arizona, where Lewis was attending Arizona State's pro day.

My read on the situation is that the Bengals want Bush and could be using Green-Ellis as leverage to get the Oakland Raiders running back. Bush, 27, seems to be the better fit for Cincinnati. The Bengals aren't the only team interested in Bush, who visited the Bears last week and is scheduled to travel to Seattle on Tuesday, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

While Bush's average (3.8 yards per carry) will remind some of Benson, he is more dynamic than Benson. He caught 37 passes for 418 yards last year, which would bring another look to the Bengals offense. Benson averaged 20 receptions in his four seasons in Cincinnati.

Bush doesn't have the breakaway speed that the Bengals could use (seven runs over 20 yards in four years), but neither does Green-Ellis. The Bengals wouldn't be wrong in signing Green-Ellis, who is young (26), durable (hasn't missed a game in the past two years), reliable (has never fumbled in his NFL career) and strong in the red zone (24 touchdowns in two seasons).

Green-Ellis, though, could be using the Bengals as well. He is currently in talks to stay with the Patriots."I don't know what's going to happen," Green-Ellis told MassLive.com on Friday. "I just have to sit back and wait for things to unfold."

Whether the Bengals sign Bush, Green-Ellis or another veteran free agent, Cincinnati is still planning to go with a running back by committee with backup Bernard Scott and perhaps a rookie draft pick.