The Cincinnati Bengals have a handful of young players who saw little to no action in 2012 but could see greatly expanded roles this year, and running back Daniel “Boom” Herron is eager to be one of them.
Herron, drafted by the Bengals out of Ohio State in the sixth round last year, has been much more active this spring in OTAs and minicamp.
“I’ve been getting a lot of reps and a lot of work, so I’m happy about that,” the 5-foot-10, 215-pound Herron said. “I’m definitely feeling good, definitely feeling more comfortable going into my second year. I understand things a lot better, so it’s easier to just go out there and play now.”
Herron likely is in a three-way battle with Cedric Peerman and rookie Rex Burkhead for the two remaining running back spots behind incumbent starter BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Giovani Bernard, this year’s second-round pick.
In addition to a boost in confidence, Herron is displaying more speed.
“I try to work on my speed every offseason, and that was definitely something I wanted to do this year, get more explosive and be a little bit faster,” he said.
Herron has been especially active as a receiver out of the backfield.
“I think Danny has been able to show people things that he can do,” Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said. “He’s impressed me with his ability to catch the football. You don’t get much of that opportunity, or maybe I don’t remember that opportunity for him at this point last year. I think he’s really done a great job of that.”
Herron appeared in only three game last year with four carries, but he was active on special teams, recording a pair of blocked punts, one of which he recovered.
He’s also getting a little bit of a look as a kick returner, which is something he did well at Ohio State.
“Any way I can get the ball in my hands, I’m happy about,” he said.
The Bengals held their second of three minicamp practices Wednesday, and cornerback Adam Jones took part in 11-on-11 drills and kickoff returns. Slowed by a sore calf since the start of OTAs last month and arrested for assault Monday, Jones only participated in punt returns Tuesday. … Rookie defensive end Margus Hunt spent time at defensive tackle, where his 6-foot-8 frame and long reach could wreak havoc on opponents’ passing lanes. … And despite playing no-pads, no-contact football, Geno Atkins still finds a way to be a factor. Wednesday he was able to bat down an Andy Dalton throw, and Tuesday he intercepted a Dalton pass that Carlos Dunlap had tipped.
The Bengals made a roster move Wednesday, waiving third-year safety Robert Sands.
The fifth-round pick out of West Virginia in 2011, Sands played in one game his rookie season and missed all of 2012 with a chest injury.
His release leaves the Bengals roster at 89 players, one shy of the league limit.
Bengals players put on full pads Wednesday, but only briefly.
The production crew from NBC Sports was at Paul Brown Stadium to shoot video head shots of the players in preparation for their Dec. 15 game in Pittsburgh, which is scheduled to be a nationally televised Sunday night game.