On Thursday, I explained why I thought that Cedric Benson would impress Packer fans and coaches in last night's game against the Cincinnati Bengals. I feel confident in saying that he played well and solidified my opinion that he will be the Packers' starting running back to begin this season.
After Alex Green was on the field for the first two series, Benson received three carries on his first drive and looked good immediately. He showed good burst and vision on carries of 8 and 9 yard, and was given no chance to make anything on a loss of one on first and goal from the four. On the first two carries, the offensive line helped considerably, and Benson appeared decisive in finding a lane and bursting through.
Later in the first half, Benson had back-to-back first downs, the first coming on an 11-yard run out of the shotgun and following it up with a 10-yard reception from Aaron Rodgers that took the Packers across midfield. He's never really been particularly highly-regarded for his receiving skills, so any way he can contribute in the screen game will make him that much more valuable.
All in all, Benson's carries went for the following yardage: 8, 9, -1, 3, 11, and 8, for a total line of six carries for 38 yards (that's 6.3 yards per carry). Also of serious importance, Benson looked confident carrying the ball and showed no signs of fumbling issues that have been a concern.
Personally, I would consider Benson's first game a success, both from his integration into the offense, how he looked to the naked eye, and his final statistics. He's even making scouts around the league nervous about the Packers' offense having another dimension that was absent last season. Let's not crown him the team's savior yet, but I think it's safe to say that we should feel more confident in the running back position now than we did 24 hours ago.
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