It’s official. Cedric Benson will miss the remainder of the season with an injury to his lower left leg that will require surgery. Adrian Peterson will move into the starting spot with rookie Garret Wolfe backing him up. The Bears have been injury plagued this season and this is another tough blow for a team trying to fight back into wild card contention.
Benson's injury couldn't have come at a worse time for his progress, as he seemed to be turning the corner a bit over the past two weeks after a really tough start to the season. Benson's performance this season has been under heavy criticism from fans/media especially with the circumstances surrounding Thomas Jones' departure this past off season. There has certainly been plenty of speculation surrounding the Thomas Jones/Cedric Benson situation despite the fact that it can be justified by pure economics. I believe the Bears actually made the correct move by not re-signing Jones to a long term deal, but you can easily make a case against that decision as well.
Regardless of anyone's thoughts on Benson/Jones, the future of the Bears starting RB job certainly has some question marks. Benson signed a 5 year deal in 2005 and has yet to finish an entire season without an injury. Benson has two years remaining on his contract, expiring at the same time as the extension Adrian Peterson signed last year carrying both backs through the 2009 season. Although I’m not sold on Cedric Benson being the Bears future at RB, I’m also not convinced that he clearly is not the answer. Benson hasn’t had an impressive year running the football, however, I’m not sure most RB's in the league would have great numbers this year on a Bears offense that has shown poor offensive line play, bad play calling, and inconsistent QB play, allowing defenses to stack an extra man in the box to defend the run. Therefore, I don’t feel as though I have a great body of work to analyze the type of RB Benson is capable of being.
With all of that said, there will certainly be speculation in the off season of what direction the bears should go in at RB. Draft? At this point, I don’t think the Bears should spend a 1st round pick on a RB, unless a Darren McFadden is on the board! If the Bears truly want to go in another direction at RB, why not trade for a capable and proven NFL back. Chester Taylor is a guy that comes to mind for me. Although he has a few years left on his contract, I certainly don’t see him wanting to sit behind Peterson who has already shown flashes of greatness during his rookie year.
Bottom line is that this is a tough break for Benson, who seemed to be running better the past couple of weeks on a team that could really use a solid running game for the final playoff push.