A Reinforcement at Running Back
Late this afternoon, the Packers announced the widely predicted signing of Cedric Benson. He comes to Green Bay with some numbers, 1,000 plus yards in each of his past 3 seasons as a Bengal, but he is 29 years old and a lot of his yards come the old fashioned way, he earns them after contact. His career average, 3.8 yards per carry. How much gas is left in Benson's tank remains to be seen, but with all their injured backs, Starks, Saine, and Bennett, and a lousy performance by Starks in the preseason opener, the Packers have decided to take a look. Even one of the team's healthy backs, Alex Green, is coming off major knee surgery.
Besides previous production, Benson also brings some legal baggage (assault and alcohol related) to the Packers. The bet here is that his off the field behavior won't be a problem. The wrong side of the fence is a lonely place to be in Green Bay, Wisconsin. There's nobody to play with. The guys who could go either way generally fall the right way. The Packers don't tolerate bad actors in their locker room. Ted Thompson is a GM who considers being "a good teammate" a very attractive attribute. Director of Player Development Rob Davis does a great job of preaching the "Packer Way" to potential problem children. Besides all that, Benson was out of work much longer than he planned on. Learning that the game can live without you can up a player's maturity level considerably. Bottom line, would come as a real surprise if Benson gets into trouble while he's wearing the green and gold.
Prior to the Benson announcement, the Packers practiced this morning and that more-of-a-regular- season tone continued. While they did have an offense vs. defense competitive no huddle period, other team drills were against schemes and plays used by future opponents, and not necessarily Cleveland. The Packers also emphasize the sets used by divisional rivals and early season opponents during camp.
Also of Note:
-I would have never guessed it after the first week or so of camp, but today Andrew Datko spent the majority of his practice as the starter at left tackle. Obviously the 7th round pick has made a lot of progress but he can make more. He still doesn't play as strong as he's capable of. The problem is a post-surgical shoulder that's healthy now. His brain, however, keeps telling him it needs protecting. Instead of shooting his arms and hands out as weapons, he's using them as shock absorbers. That's not a good thing when confronted by a power pass rusher.
-Newly acquired Reggie Wells made his debut in pads, and he too was working at left tackle. He's not blessed with feet that go pitter patter, but he is a big man. He's not going to get beat right over the top and to get around him, a defender has to take the great circle route.
-Donald Driver is more than a feel good story, the guy can still play. He made a number of catches today and I can honestly say I haven't noticed a drop-off in his level of play. I'm sure he can't do some things the way he used to, but the bottom line is production, and it's still there.