Mature Benson plans to ignite ground game
BY SEAN JENSEN firstname.lastname@example.org September 11, 2012 11:45PM
Updated: October 14, 2012 1:50PM
Determined to avoid an 0-2 start, the Green Bay Packers want to improve their run offense Thursday night, and they’re counting on a familiar face.
Cedric Benson, the Bears’ first-round pick in 2005 — and fourth overall — signed a one-year, $825,000 contract with the Packers, and he started the season opener. Benson toted the ball just nine times and finished with 18 yards.
But the Bears had better not let Benson have a repeat performance of the last time he faced his old squad. In 2009, Benson had 189 rushing yards and a touchdown against the Bears when he was with the Cincinnati Bengals.
“I don’t have any personal grudge against them,” Benson told reporters in Green Bay Tuesday. “But… based on the fact we weren’t very successful in the run game last week, plan on being that way this week. That’s my focus.”
Asked about the 2009 game, Benson said, “That’s the first time I had saw them since we parted ways, and I just wanted to have a good day.”
Benson was projected as an NFL star after a brilliant career at the University of Texas. But, he had two arrests while with the Bears, and was released by the club in June 2008.
Asked if it was difficult to release Benson, Bears coach Lovie Smith said, “You know, I don’t live in the past. Cedric was great. He did a lot for us while he was here. I’m just excited that he’s playing for another good team.”
After leaving the Bears, Benson signed with the Bengals and topped 1,000 rushing yards the last three seasons. But he didn’t draw much interest this past offseason, until the Packers signed him to a modest deal.
Benson, for his part, insisted he’s more mature.
“I’m 29 now,” he said. “I think at the time I was like 24, 25 maybe. You know I was a young man. I’ve grown up a lot since then.”
Neither Brian Urlacher (knee) nor Charles Tillman (shin) practiced Tuesday.
“Charles’ shin is getting better. We have a little bit of time still before the game. And Brian of course is feeling fine,” Smith said. “The plan was to keep him off today.”
Bears offensive tackle J’Marcus Webb (thumb) practiced in full, while backup tight end Kyle Adams (shoulder) was limited.
For the Packers, receiver Greg Jennings didn’t practice.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy showed his players a study on how important division games are.
◆ Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice said right tackle Gabe Carimi received a game ball for his performance in the season opener.