Cedric Benson is in an interesting position now, with one game left in his contract with the Cincinnati Bengals after having fumbled 5 times in the last two games. He may be playing in his last game as a Bengal, and this fumble problem has sprung up at the most inopportune time. So, does the team continue to use him as a feature back in the most important game of the year? Offensive Coordinator Jay Gruden hinted that the team will continue to use Benson as their starter, but he will be on a short leash:
“We’re married to him right now,” offensive coordinator Jay Gruden said after Wednesday’s practice. “He’s a guy that has had great games against Baltimore in the past. We need him to run between the tackles and be his physical self and not worry so much about it. He’s had a ton of carries before the last couple of weeks where he hasn’t fumbled. He’s got to get back in that mentality, get his confidence going and protect the football better. Obviously putting the ball on the ground is unacceptable no matter your position.”
“It’s just not his career he’s dealing with. He’s dealing with everybody’s career in here. Coaches, players alike and seasons are at stake here. Ball security is very important,” Gruden said. “Hopefully it doesn’t affect him. Hopefully he does understand the importance of protecting it because it is something that I know Coach (Marvin) Lewis won’t put up with. No team will put up with that.”
Traditionally, the team rotates Bernard Scott in for every third offensive possession. If Benson puts the ball on the ground one more time this season, the team will probably use Scott for the remainder of the game. I don’t think Benson will fumble, given that he hadn’t fumbled in the 13 weeks before his sudden spree and that he knows what he did wrong last week:
“You do what you did all week, and don’t get out there and try to be Superman. When the opportunity presents itself to make a play, make the play and don’t try to make any plays that aren’t there.”
It’s very important that Benson doesn’t make that mistake this week, when everything is on the line. Turnovers are huge when the Bengals play the Ravens. In the last six meetings between the two, the team that has won or tied the turnover battle has won the game.