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Once again, Bengals fairly active in free agency

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Posted March 24, 2012 @ 2:18 p.m. ET
By Mike Wilkening

Free agency began with the Bengals losing DEs Frostee Rucker and Jonathan Fanene, two keys to their strong front-four depth a season ago. But as they did last offseason, the Bengals have been able to address multiple needs since the opening of the market.

Most notably, the addition of Patriots RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis is expected to spell the end of Cedric Benson’s four-season tenure with the club.

“BenJarvus is a no-nonsense runner who consistently gets the ball down the field, and he has a nose for the endzone,” longtime Bengals RB coach Jim Anderson said in a statement issued by the club. “He’s also an asset to the passing game, not only as a receiver but as a blocker. More than all that, he’s the kind of guy who comes in to work hard every day, a great team player and a great addition for us.”

The 5-11, 215-pound Green-Ellis’ sure-handedness is perhaps his most well-known trait; he has never fumbled in an NFL regular-season or postseason game. Though he gained just 3.7 yards per carry a season ago and had no run longer than 18 yards, he has decent speed. He had the Patriots’ longest run of Super Bowl XLVI when he took a pitch off right end and dashed 17 yards early in the second half. 

His ruggedness is also apparent. Per STATS LLC, Green-Ellis converted 9-of-12 rushing attempts on third downs into first downs in 2012, which tied for the second-best conversion percentage in that category.

The way we hear it, Green-Ellis seems likely to get the majority of carries in Cincinnati and could get a workload similar to what he had in New England. Green-Ellis averaged 12.8 carries in his final two seasons for the Patriots. Bernard Scott also figures to be a bigger part of the Bengals’ running game than he was during Benson’s time as the featured back.

The Bengals also addressed a need at guard, signing ex-Panther Travelle Wharton. He’s the likely starter at left guard, replacing Nate Livings, who signed with Dallas. Wharton (6-4, 312) started 15 games at left guard and one at left tackle a season ago and allowed just two sacks, per STATS LLC.

The Bengals will turn to Derrick Harvey, a former Jaguars first-rounder, to pick up some of the slack with Rucker and Fanene gone.

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