If the Green Bay Packers have a playoff run in them, then Cedric Benson could be part of the equation.
The Packers used the new injured-reserve rule on Benson, who suffered a Lisfranc foot sprain during the second quarter of Sunday’s loss at Indianapolis. Until this year, injured reserve was a season-ending proposition. Under the new rule, one player – Benson, in Green Bay’s case -- can return to practice in six weeks and return to game action in eight weeks.
That, potentially, would put Benson on the field beginning in Week 13.
“We’re definitely optimistic,” coach Mike McCarthy said after Wednesday’s practice. “We feel that he can come back. A foot sprain is definitely a tough injury to come back from but, within that time frame, we feel that he definitely has a chance. His history would tell you that he is going to come back, and in my time being around him, he’s a true pro. He’s been excellent. Spends a lot of time in the weight room. I can see him being one of those guys that comes back and plays the last four weeks of the season.”
Benson missed 20 games from 2005 through 2009 but played in all 16 games in 2010 and missed just one game last season.
Benson had added a dimension to the Packers’ offense, even with his subpar average of 3.5 yards per carry. While he lacked breakaway speed, with a long run of 11 yards, he generally got what was blocked and sometimes more.
“It’s tough,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. “Ced’s been great for us. He’s been a leader, he’s had a great attitude, he’s been a great example for those young guys about what a professional looks like. He’s been a leader in the locker room, a leader in that meeting room.”
McCarthy said he’d go with the hot hand, with Alex Green getting the “first rep” on Sunday night at Houston. Rather than go the workhorse route after Benson got 71 of the first 77 carries by running backs, the Packers will turn to a by-committee approach.
“With him on the shelf for a while,” Rodgers said, “James Starks hops back in the mix, Alex Green ran the ball well when he had opportunities and Brandon Saine has a lot of fans in the locker room and on the third floor and everybody’s excited about him and his opportunity. Those three guys will get some chances and we expect them to play well.”