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News » Cincinnati Bengals Inside Slant 2009-03-06

Cincinnati Bengals Inside Slant 2009-03-06

Cincinnati Bengals Inside Slant 2009-03-06
After losing T.J. Houshmandzadeh, the Bengals went on the offensive in free agency by addressing priorities at running back and receiver.

The Bengals re-signed running back Cedric Benson and then found Houshmandzadeh's replacement in Laveranues Coles. Both moves have given quarterback Carson Palmer a more optimistic outlook about the upcoming season.

"It's been a little up and down, but more up now that both of those guys are signed," Palmer said. "The offense is going to be different because we are going in a different direction with it."

Coles' addition gives Palmer one of the more experienced set of starting receivers in the NFL. Coles, who will be in his 10th season, has 631 career receptions while Chad Ocho Cinco is in his ninth year with 612 receptions.

"It's good because they have both combined for a ton of yards and they know how to handle certain defenders and corners," Palmer said. "The veterans will be huge, especially for the young guys (Andre Caldwell and Jerome Simpson)."

Benson's return gives the Bengals a consistent and proven back to build the rushing attack around. In 12 games last year, 10 of which were starts, he ran for a career-high 747 yards and also led the team in yards from scrimmage (932). An even more encouraging sign is that in the three games he ran for over 100 yards, the Bengals won.

Benson's return provides a power runner, something that has proven to be a must-have trait to win in the AFC North. After being released by the Bears during a run of embarrassing off-field incidents, Benson was signed by the Bengals during Week 5 and ran for a career-high 747 yards, including three 100-yard games.

What has impressed Palmer even more about Benson is his ability to catch the ball and his intelligence.

"He's a rare combination. He's a big, physical guy who has soft hands," Palmer said. "Remember the screen pass that he had in the Washington game (79 yards)? He does a number of good things in the passing game which you don't expect in a 230-pound back.

"Plus having a full season will be huge for Cedric. To put up the numbers he did and to be as successful as he was shows how intelligent he is. I'm in my seventh year in the league and I've seen it take months for guys to learn the offense. It's very rare to see a guy come in and learn it as quick as he did."

Even though he visited the Texans before re-signing with the Bengals, Benson chose loyalty to the team that gave him a second chance over the possible opportunity of returning to his home state.

"They gave me a chance when no one else did. I was home watching football," Benson said. "There was a lot of negative talk out there surrounding me not only as a player but my character off the field. I'm sure they second guessed the thought at times but they followed through."

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: March 6, 2009

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