Bengals’ Bernard impresses in return from ACL injury


After slicing, slashing and jump-cutting his way across the field less than eight months removed from ACL surgery, Cincinnati Bengals running back Giovani Bernard joked that he has two bionic knees.

Although given his performance in the first practice of training camp Friday, maybe he wasn’t actually joking.

“Today was fun to be out there with the guys, that whole camaraderie” said Bernard, who tore his left ACL on Nov. 20 against Buffalo and hasn’t been on the field with his teammates since, spending every OTA and minicamp practice on the side field rehabbing.

“(Strength coach Chip Morton) let me break down the group in the beginning of practice, which meant a lot to me,” Bernard added. “It probably didn’t seem like that much of a thing, but for me to be able to come back and do that meant the world to me.”

›› RELATED: Eifert, Ross cleared for start of Bengals training camp

Bernard carried the ball on the second snap of the first 11-on-11 drill, and after a few more touches he had the defensive players hooting and hollering while cries of “He’s back!”

No one doubted Bernard would be back, but for him to return to full form so fast has been remarkable.

“When people say ‘Oh, you came back so quick,’ I just always tell them I’m Haitian and we’re just born different, we just have different DNA than everybody else,” Bernard said with a smirk. “We just have a different blood type. I don’t know. It’s something I joke around with. We just come back from injuries like it’s nothing. Like a Wolverine kind of thing, I don’t know.”

›› MORE: Bengals add two players to injury list

It’s actually the second time Bernard has sped through an ACL rehab. He tore his right ACL in college at North Carolina. That was in August, and he was back on the field the following April for spring ball eight months later.

“This is my second go-round,” he said. “I understood the process. I understood you just kind of stay the course and trust the training staff. It’s one of those things when you set out a goal in front of yourself and you are able to accomplish it, it means the world to yourself.

“I’ve got two bionic knees now,” he added. “Now they’re even.”

JOIN THE CONVERSATION: Like our Cincinnati Bengals News Now Facebook page

One person who wasn’t surprised by Bernard’s performance Friday was running backs coach Kyle Caskey.

“He’s really been way ahead of his rehab schedule,” Caskey said. “The stuff that we’ve seen him do since we’ve been back since April has been far beyond what I personally expected, and what a lot of us expected. If anybody can do it, it’s going to be him.”

Bernard repeatedly praised Bengals director of rehab Nick Cosgray for getting him back on the field so quickly.

“There’s so many words to describe him,” Bernard said. “I know him and his family went through a tough time during this process. I know his mother in law passed away. It was just one of those things where his attitude didn’t change. His drive for me to get back on the field didn’t change.

“For somebody to do that during a time like that with him and his family, it’s tough,” Bernard added. “And he was there every single day pushing me. Obviously you’re not going to feel great every single day trying to do this rehab stuff. To have that guy next to you, to be able to help, it meant the world to me.”

›› RELATED: Some Bengals still tryinig to decipher their 2017 slogan

Bernard also had Tyler Eifert by his side through much of the process as the Bengals Pro Bowl tight end was rehabbing after back surgery.

Eifert also returned to the field Friday, catching several balls, including an impressive one-handed stab on a short pass from Andy Dalton. Eifert, who also sat out of all offseason workouts, said he’s been 100 percent for the last month and a half to two months.

“I’m jumping in. I’m ready to go,” he said Friday morning before practice. “I’m excited to go. It’s been a while. I’m looking forward to it. I feel like myself so I’m excited to get back out there.”

First-round pick John Ross also made his practice debut after undergoing labrum surgery following the Combine. He participated in position drills and worked on punt returns, but Ross did not take part in any 11-on-11, 7-on-7 or even 1-on-1 drills.

The Bengals will be back on the practice field Saturday at 3 p.m.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Sports

Cubs beat up Reds bullpen in 13-9 win
Cubs beat up Reds bullpen in 13-9 win

Scooter Gennett and Eugenio Suarez each hit their 22nd home run of the season, three Reds pitchers singled, the Reds outfield logged two more assists, but almost all of that was before the Chicago Cubs got warmed up. The defending World Series champions broke out for 10 nearly unanswered runs over the last four innings, all off the Cincinnati bullpen...
Prep football: Troy has had Trotwood’s number
Prep football: Troy has had Trotwood’s number

Troy pulled off the unthinkable in the 2015 high school football season, snapping a five-game losing streak and landing an unlikely 21-20 Week 7 win at mighty Trotwood-Madison. That upset took on added significance because the Trojans finished 2-8 that season, Matt Burgbacher’s first as coach. It was even better for Troy last season, following...
HS Results 8/22: Carroll boys soccer tops Tecumseh

In their first match of the season, the Carroll boys soccer team emerged victorious, besting Tecumseh 4-1. Mitchell Solle kicked off the scoring for Carroll, netting back-to-back goals for the Patriots. The first was unassisted and the second came off an assist from Chris Moon. Alex Arevalos attempted to rally back for Tecumseh, netting the third goal...
Trammell drives in five as Dragons throttle Hot Rods
Trammell drives in five as Dragons throttle Hot Rods

Blink and you just may miss Taylor Trammell, because if he makes contact, the 2016 first-round pick may not stop until he gets back home. Trammell, who hit an inside-the-park homer Aug. 15, thrilled the announced crowd of 7,440 at Fifth Third Field with another race around the bases during the Dragons’ 12-0 win Tuesday night. With Dayton leading...
HS Football: Mechanicsburg confident despite roster turnover
HS Football: Mechanicsburg confident despite roster turnover

Over half the roster has turned over at Mechanicsburg. Who could expect another winning season, league title and return to the playoffs? The people inside coach Kurt Forrest’s locker room, that’s who. They aren’t worried about what those on the other side of the door might assume. The tradition established in recent seasons is one...
More Stories