Biggs: Benson fumbles upon arrival of L.J.
Leave it to Cedric Benson to insert his foot (with cleat on) into his mouth with the Cincinnati Bengals riding high atop the AFC North and the running back nursing a hip injury after the organization went out and signed Larry Johnson as some insurance.
Benson shouldn’t feel threatened. He’s clearly established himself as the main man running the ball in Cincinnati, seizing a second chance last year when the Bengals rescued him from the NFL discard pile and running with it.
He’s sixth in the league with a career-high 859 yards to go with six touchdowns and a respectable 4.2-yards per carry average. And he’s hobbled right now after getting dinged up in the Bengals’ gritty victory at Pittsburgh last Sunday that put them in control of the division.
So Johnson shouldn’t pose any threat to Benson, but the former first-round pick of the Chicago Bears came off the wrong way when asked about the addition of the new back Wednesday.
“I didn't know I was supposed to be jumping out of my seat or anything,’’ said Benson, who sat out practice, creating a possible opening for Johnson to play Sunday at Oakland. “I really have no feelings about it. They made a move they felt they needed to do, and that's fine with me. It's not going to affect me in any kind of way. Whatever happens from here on, I can guarantee you I'll definitely be making the best of it.
“In most cases you hold your fate in your own hands. I'm not letting up in any aspect of what I'm doing. I would imagine that I would continue to be the first guy, and if not, I'll make it that way.’’
Are they comments that are going to land Benson in trouble? No. But the problem is it’s the same kind of stuff he went through in Chicago when he couldn’t exist with Thomas Jones, who was entrenched as the starter when general manager Jerry Angelo selected Benson fourth overall in 2005. The problem is it’s the same kind of selfish remarks that made Benson a lonely man during his days with the Bears. That rocky stay began after Benson had a 36-day contract impasse, showed up and said he’d be ready to become the starter in a matter of two weeks.
The two backs never co-existed and it was uncomfortable to the point that Jones took a swing at Benson in practice on one occasion. No one is saying Benson needed to scoop Johnson up at the airport, take him to dinner and give him a place to crash until he finds his own pad. But he could have said Johnson is a welcome addition for a team fashioning plans for a playoff run into January. The more help the better. That’s all. It would have come across a lot better because Benson has done such a good job of leaving his baggage in Chicago. He doesn’t want the same issues to crop up for him now that he’s enjoying success.
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