Ex-Bengal Cedric Benson has 'plenty' left in tank

August 14, 2012 

Cedric Benson knows there's an expiration date stamped on any NFL player and that it seems to come up sooner for running backs than anyone else. But he insists he has a lot left to give the Green Bay Packers despite carrying the ball more than 1,500 times over the past seven NFL seasons.

"I think I've got plenty," Benson said Monday. "I still feel good. I'm still loose, I diet well and I train well and do the best I can to contribute to the longevity of my career as best I know how. And I think I've got plenty of years left. I feel great."

The Packers signed the free-agent running back on Sunday, hoping to add depth and productivity at a position that is being stretched thin by injuries just a few weeks into training camp.

Already missing James Starks because of a turf toe injury — and not wanting to overtax second-year player Alex Green in his return from a season-ending knee injury — the Packers' problems were compounded when they lost John Kuhn to an ankle sprain during Monday's practice.

Coach Mike McCarthy had to cut practice short by 20 minutes because the team simply didn't have enough running backs to get through all of their drills.

Benson isn't likely to play in Thursday's pre-season game against Cleveland, potentially leaving the Packers shorthanded.

"Right now, we have three running backs," McCarthy said. "We'll see where John is the next couple days. I'd like to have four of them going into the game."

Benson, the No. 4 overall pick by the Chicago Bears in the 2005 draft, struggled with injuries, inconsistency and off-the-field trouble with the Bears. But he revived his career over four seasons in Cincinnati, including three straight years over the 1,000-yard rushing mark.

Benson was surprised he didn't draw more immediate interest in free agency, but said he was happy to end up in Green Bay.

"Year to year in this business, guys always have something to prove, you know?" Benson said. "There's a tendency of, 'What have you shown me lately? What have you done for me lately?' You're always out to leave your stamp on the game every season."

By signing Benson, the Packers apparently passed on the chance to re-sign veteran Ryan Grant, who is without a job after five solid seasons with the Packers.

"Ryan Grant has been a very good player for us in the past," McCarthy said. "There's a lot of decisions that go into every player acquisition on our team, a number of different factors. This isn't just something that was thought of and done in the short term. ... Cedric Benson's a good fit for us."

Around the league

Giants: Wide receiver Hakeem Nicks was taken off the physically unable to perform list. The Super Bowl champions made the move after Nicks missed the first two weeks of training camp while completing rehabilitation on a broken right foot.

"This is an indication that we're right where we should be," Nicks said. "We're on schedule. There have been no setbacks. I'm just going to take it one step at a time and be out there catching passes from Eli (Manning) and eventually get our timing back."

Colts: Chuck Pagano's first NFL win came at a pretty steep cost. Less than 24 hours after beating St. Louis 38-3 in the pre-season opener, the Colts' new coach said starting inside linebacker Pat Angerer, last year's leading tackler, could miss at least six weeks because of a broken foot.

"He's the signal-caller, he's the guy that stands in front of the huddle," Pagano said Monday. "When you lose your middle backer for an extended period of time, it hurts a lot, and the guy is a warrior, he's a Colt, he's got all of Colt traits you're looking for. Now it will be up to somebody else to step up and fill that void until we get him back."

Angerer led the Colts with 146 tackles last season after replacing captain Gary Brackett, who missed most of the season with a torn rotator cuff.

Chargers: Running back Ryan Mathews is targeting the Sept. 10 season opener against the Raiders for his return from a broken collarbone suffered in San Diego's first pre-season game.

"I think I heal pretty fast, so I think I'll be good in time to play against the Raiders," Mathews said.

Mathews was injured on his first carry of the pre-season against the Packers on Thursday. He had surgery on Friday and the Chargers said he would miss four to six weeks.

Mathews led the Chargers with 1,091 yards rushing and a 4.9-yard average last season.

Titans: Jake Locker will get his first start of the pre-season on Friday night against the Buccaneers. Coach Mike Munchak made the announcement after Monday's practice that the 2011 first-round pick would start after Matt Hasselbeck started Saturday night's 27-17 loss in Seattle.

"We'll start Jake on Friday. It gives him an opportunity to start the game from the beginning. Then, Matt will come in and we'll go from there," Munchak said.

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