The Former North Carolina Ram sat down with “NFL AM” on Wednesday and discussed his role on the Cincinnati Bengals and his respect for sixth year running back Ben Jarvus Green-Ellis.

Instead of competing with Green-Ellis for the starting position, the rookie prefers to partner with the veteran.

“It’s more so a complimentary kind of thing,” Bernard said of his relationship with Green-Ellis. “I think we’re both gonna help each other out. I definitely had a chance to talk to him; he’s the leader of that pack; he’s the leader of the guys. I’m gonna be following in his footsteps. I’m gonna do whatever I can to help him, he’s gonna do whatever he can to help me.”

As admirable as it sounds, it’s only a matter of time before Bernard excels in the offseason and preseason and becomes the starting running back for the Bengals by November.

The 21-year-old is already “sensing” his new role and developing relationships with Bengals decision makers.

“There’s tons of areas that I could help in,” Bernard said. “I had a chance to talk with coach [Jay] Gruden, the offensive coordinator, and kind of run through some of the plays. I could sense what he wanted me to do; I could sense the new role that I will be taking on for the Bengals. I’m just excited for that new role. I’m excited to be out there with those guys.”

Although a second round selection (37th overall), Bernard was the first running back drafted in the 2013 draft. Standing 5-foot-8 and weighing 200 pounds, the former ACC Offensive Player of the Year is being compared to active running backs Maurice Jones-Drew, Doug Martin, and Ray Rice.

Does Bernard’s skill set differ from the three backs? According to Bernard, he’s too “similar” to differ.

“[We’re] similar. Those guys, they have the same stature as I do,” Bernard said. “They’re definitely shifty, they’re definitely open-field type guys, but they can still run inside zones, outside zones, or whatever, and catch the ball at the back field on a string…Just being me at the end of the day that’s all I can do.”

But Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis is singing a different song; a song that praises Bernard and dismisses similarities.

“What everybody doesn’t understand, when you look at Ray Rice when he was a young player, this guy is already a little taller, a little heavier,” Lewis said during rookie minicamp. “We’re looking at comparisons of [Doug] Martin, and the back down in Jacksonville [Maurice Jones-Drew], and those kind of guys with that kind of stature. Everybody sees where they are now, but you also look at physically where they started out, and I think Gio’s got special ability that way.”

If early impressions are indications of success to come, Bernard may be the Bengals secret weapon on offense.