The Packers have formally announced the signing of Cedric Benson. Green Bay obviously has not liked what it has seen from James Starks so far in training camp, and backup running back Alex Green is still recovering from a torn ACL that he got last year.While many are split on whether Benson was a good signing by the Packers, especially since Ryan Grant is still on the free agents list, the Packers front office clearly felt Benson was the best running back available, had viable experience, and could get the short yards on third down that the Packers lacked last year.
It also doesn’t hurt that his best game as a pro came against his former team in 2009, the Chicago Bears, and the Packers play the Bears twice this upcoming season.This article is meant as a preview to what fans can expect from Cedric Benson in 2012. Many people are expecting Benson to either rack up the competition in Green Bay or split carries with James Starks, but I think his impact will be greater than that. As of right now, Benson is the best running back on the Packer’s roster, and James Starks has always been a heavy injury risk (in fact, he’s suffering from a turf toe right now). Starks could miss a good number of games in 2012, and even when he does play he has seldom shown the ability we saw out of him in the 2010 playoffs and he likely will be phased out if Benson is close to the player he was in Cincinnati. Also, if you want to know what kind of statistical production you can expect from Benson, looking at Green Bay running backs last year shows you than Benson can eclipse 1000 rushing yards for the fourth straight season. James Starks and Ryan Grant combined for 267 carries and 1167 yards in 2011, and with Grant gone and Starks being injury prone and the second best back on the team, Benson could (and should) receive over 200 carries at the very least in 2012 (especially if the Packers are serious about implementing Benson into the offense).
I wouldn’t be surprised if Benson got over 250 carries, either. Also, even though Benson’s yards per carry has been below 4.0 the past two seasons, he’s never been the kind of back that will break those long touchdown runs week in and week out. He’s a bruiser and a guy that will get tough yards, and that’s what the Packers want. With that said, defenses in Green Bay will need to do everything they can to stop the pass, and with a talented running back like Benson getting carries there’s no reason Benson shouldn’t have over 4.0 yards per carry for the first time since 2009. Imagine a four receiver set with Benson in the backfield. Defenses will have to be thinking pass first, and that could help Benson break a few more big runs. I think a safe early projection for Benson after this signing is 800 yards. However, I wouldn’t be shocked if he had 1000 yards this year as the Packers first primary back since Ryan Grant in 2009, and Benson could also have double digit touchdowns like Grant did in 2009 (11).