The Giovani Bernard reverse-field touchdown run in Miami served as the latest – most glaring – example of the damage the rookie running back can do in space.

His run swinging deep into the Bengals backfield was the first time he made such a dramatic, risky play bringing negative yards into the equation.

With any rookie being new to a team, the tendency to stick with the game plan and hit the hole becomes the way to please the coaches. Bernard believes the instinctual improvisation illustrated his growth.

“You just have to feel comfortable with what you’re doing,” he said. “Like Barry Sanders in his time. He was one of those who lost a lot of yards to gain a lot of yards. There’s times when it’s going to be like that, but the biggest thing is getting positive yards.”

Should we expect more of Bernard channeling his inner Sanders for reverse-field magic? With the capability now on film the concern becomes a defender will be waiting next time. Bernard said trying to replicate Miami isn’t encouraged, but nobody’s holding up a stop sign, either.

Don’t expect offensive coordinator Jay Gruden to stand in the way.

“Never with a great back,” he said. “Let his instincts take over. Soon as you start telling a guy like that where to run and how to run you put handcuffs on him and he becomes ordinary. We will take the bad with the good and hopefully great comes out of it.”

As far as Gruden allowing more opportunity for Bernard to concoct greatness, he offered on Thursday extra touches have probably been earned. Over the last four games, BenJarvus Green-Ellis has 60 touches against 52 for Bernard.