Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Packers Defend The Signing of Cedric Benson

Sure RB Cedric Benson was completely unwanted by any team, and he signed with the Green Bay Packers at the minimum salary with no signing bonus, only after four of their five running backs were either injured or limited due to prior injuries, but GM Ted Thompson said "We liked what we saw with Cedric."

He's talking about him as a player he wanted, not a player he was forced to sign, and he probably could have re-signed RB Ryan Grant instead. He's made his choice, one that could turn out to the wrong choice based on Benson's decline over the past two seasons, and he's sticking with it.

I have to admit, while I was cool on the idea at first, I'm warming up to him. Statistically, re-signing Grant looked like the better move, but with all the injuries (and the inexperience in the Packers's backfield), I'm glad to see a veteran back on the roster. The addition of Benson reminds me of when they re-signed Ahman Green back in 2009.

Just like Benson, the Packers brought Green in for a try out and thought he could still play. They were right; Green ran for 3.9 ypc that season. That's hardly elite, but it's good enough to deserve a roster spot. He also added some veteran stability when the Packers seemed to need it in the backfield, and they seem to need it again now. Also, if Benson does end up starting and he manages to deliver a big run or two, he could give opposing defenses something else to worry about.

Benson will also have the advantage of playing behind the first offensive line, whenever he finally gets on the field, because starting LT Marshall Newhouse has returned from his concussion. Depth is still a concern until Derek Sherrod returns to practice, but he will return at some point this season and it's possible that Andrew Datko can improve over the course of the preseason. Also, I liked what I saw from undrafted rookie Don Barclay at left guard during the first preseason game against the Chargers. That's not outstanding depth, but it should be good enough.

There was a rumor that Chad Clifton might take a physical for the Patriots, who have their own injury problems on the offensive line, but that turned out to be false. If he is able to return, I'd hope he come back to Green Bay.

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