Struggling Offense Struck with Crushing Blow

On Sunday evening, Cedric Benson said he wasn't concerned about a foot injury that knocked him out of the game at Indianapolis. On Monday evening, ESPN reported that Benson would be out at least eight weeks with a Lisfranc injury.

The Green Bay Packers' surprisingly mediocre offense suffered perhaps a crushing blow with running back Cedric Benson reportedly sustaining a Lisfranc foot injury, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Coach Mike McCarthy didn't know the extent of the injury on Monday, only that Benson "clearly" would not play in Sunday night's game at Houston. Benson, who was in a walking boot on Monday, was examined by Dr. Pat McKenzie on Monday morning and again on Monday afternoon, McCarthy said.

The injury will keep him out at least eight weeks, Schefter reported. The Jets' Santonio Holmes sustained a similar injury recently and was placed on season-ending injured reserve. Oakland running back Darren McFadden's season ended after suffering a Lisfranc injury in Week 7 of last season.

After a shocking loss at Indianapolis, Benson on Sunday evening said a defender landed on his foot at the end of a 3-yard reception, which "twisted" ligaments in his foot. Still, Benson didn't sense the injury was anything significant as he stood at his locker.

"Yeah, yeah," Benson said when asked if he'd be OK. "Of course, it's really tender right now. They're going to do further checkups in the morning but I feel good."

Benson had provided a jolt to the Packers' running game. Before Sunday's game, he had rushed 20 times for 81 yards against Chicago, 17 times for 45 yards against Seattle and 18 times for 84 yards against New Orleans. Benson's 70-yard average in those games had him on pace to top 1,000 rushing yards for a fourth consecutive season.

Against the Colts, Benson carried seven times for 20 yards and added two receptions for 21 yards, with an 18-yarder on a screen setting up a touchdown.

"Yeah, it definitely impacted us," guard Josh Sitton said of the offense's production after Benson went down with 13:09 remaining in the second quarter. "He's a hell of a running back. I thought Alex came in and did a nice job. He had the big run where he made a couple guys miss and got us down there to take the lead. Cedric, he's a great player. I think he's done a lot things for us. He's gelled well with us. He's learned the offense and learned how to be a running back in our offense, so it's definitely impactful not having him."

In Benson's place, the Packers figure to go to more of a balanced approach to the running game. Before Sunday, Benson had 64 of the 70 carries by running backs. In Benson's absence, Alex Green rushed nine times for 55 yards, with his 41-yard run putting the Packers in position to score the go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth quarter. The other options are James Starks, who carried the load as the Packers won the Super Bowl in 2010 and was the team's most effective runner when healthy last year, and Brandon Saine, who's played only on special teams this season.

"Alex did some good things, and there's some things he'll definitely learn from," McCarthy said. "He obviously had the big run, did a great job there and a nice job on the trap play. But there's some protection opportunities that we need to clean up and the course of certain runs, so, a young guy that took advantage of an opportunity and this will be an opportunity for him and James and Brandon to play this week against Houston."

The news was slightly better for two other injured players. B.J. Raji (ankle) was in a walking boot, as well, but hasn't been ruled out, nor has Jermichael Finley (shoulder).


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.

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