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News » Bengals looking to Benson to ignite running game

Bengals looking to Benson to ignite running game

Bengals looking to Benson to ignite running game
CINCINNATI (AP) - Check out the Cincinnati Bengals' rushing leaders.

Their top runner? Chris Perry, who has only 239 yards in five games with a paltry 2.8 yards per carry. Oh, he's also fumbled five times, losing three.

The next two in line? Quarterbacks.

No, Carson Palmer isn't directing the wishbone in Cincinnati these days. Ryan Fitzpatrick didn't run the option during his one-game fill-in role. But there they are, ranked among the top three when it comes to carrying the ball in Cincinnati.

That's one of the biggest problems with this 0-5 team, and it has to change. Cedric Benson might be the catalyst.

The newcomer was impressive in his debut last Sunday, a 31-22 loss at Dallas. Bengals coaches are trying to find more ways to get him involved in an offense that he's still learning. They liked the way he ran between the tackles, giving Cincinnati the up-the-middle threat they've been missing this season.

"I thought he was pretty decisive in his cuts, in his movement, which is important now where we are," coach Marvin Lewis said. "(It's important) that we go ahead and we let the guys up front work and kind of ride the wave a little bit. That's one thing that we continue to coach Chris on very hard, to take the ball vertically and then let things happen."

The Bengals signed Benson as a free agent last week, after running back DeDe Dorsey suffered a season-ending hamstring injury. Benson, who had been out of football since the Bears released him in the offseason, carried 10 times for 30 yards against Dallas, making the most of his limited role in an unfamiliar offense.

"It's a lot different," Benson said. "It's a totally different playbook, totally different calls, totally different run schemes. It's night and day."

It could be the start of something familiar in Cincinnati.

The Bengals' running game was at its best when Rudi Johnson - a tackle-to-tackle runner - alternated with Perry in 2005 to help Cincinnati make the playoffs. Perry is a more accomplished pass receiver and outside runner, but has been hurt most of the last two years. Johnson was released before the start of this season.

If Benson can catch on, the Bengals might have another duo.

"I wouldn't compare Rudi and Chris to Chris and Cedric," Palmer said. "Those three guys all have three different running styles. But the good thing that Chris and Rudi did was complement each other well, and I think Chris and Cedric can complement each other.

"We just need to see more from Cedric. We haven't seen him that much. The more he's around, the longer the look coaches can get at him and see what more of what his strengths and weaknesses are and build a little bit more of a package for him down the road."

The Bengals are averaging 78 yards on the ground per game, third-worst in the NFL. Only Detroit and Indianapolis are worse.

If Perry keeps going nowhere and fumbling, the Bengals might rearrange their plans as fast as Benson can learn the playbook. His fumble in Dallas, after the Bengals had recovered an onside kick, changed the momentum in the second half and put Cincinnati in line for another loss.

More turnovers could mean less chances for Perry.

"Well, we have to take care of the football," Lewis said. "I'm not going to sit here and explain how we're going to handle that situation. We want Chris to take care of the ball and do that just like everybody else that handles the football on this team is asked to do. As Cedric learns more about this offense and understands where he needs to go, his role has an opportunity to expand."

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: October 9, 2008

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