The biggest question I had with the Larry Johnson signing was team chemistry and lockerroom cohesiveness. Some will disregard the whole idea that chemistry and cohesiveness are critical components for success on the field. But that's fine. My knowledge about NFL lockerrooms is admittedly limited. Others who claim it's overrated probably have sat on one of the wooden stools in front of a locker, watching players interact with each other, jotting notes for their conducted experiments with white lab coats, bunsen burners and beakers. I can't compete with that. So I elect not to try.
However, since the over-rated aspect of chemistry and cohesiveness translating to better success on the field hasn't actually presented substance, I'll continue with my belief. A happy lockerroom is good. A tension filled lockerroom is bad. Kind of like work. You have those people. Idiots. Nincompoops. Those annoying jerks that make you drink in so much excess that you mutter things like, "I... (sigh).. gtttn... tiii (sigh)... of... yoour (sigh)... crap" and steal your women. At least so I've heard.
But the speculation will take form. The worry? How does Cedric Benson react to the move? Admittedly, even if he hates the move, some measure of professionalism must be observed here. There's no reason to believe this move is personal, and I don't believe he thinks of it that way. Though, speculation comes in many forms. Ranging from taking quotes at face value, to interpretation quotes on the best possible angle.
The quote from Benson:
“Oh, I didn’t know I was supposed to be jumping out of my seat or anything. I really have no feelings about it,” Benson said after Wednesday morning’s walkthrough. “They made a move they felt they needed to do, and that’s fine with me. It’s not going to affect me in any kind of way. Whatever happens from here on, I can guarantee you I’ll definitely be making the best of it.
“The offensive playbook here can be tricky, so it takes a little bit to get adjusted. But Larry’s all right,” Benson said. “He’s a professional and a great player at that. I’m sure whatever adjustments he has to make, or if he gets a chance to play, I’m sure he’ll make the best of it.”
Personally, I took the quote at face value. I had no reason to suspect otherwise and that's why we didn't mention it on Wednesday. Then again, I'm not there. Maybe while he was talking, Benson was flinging boogers at him with his back turned. "Hey, since when did put yellow polka dots on our practice jerseys? Awesome!" Chad says in passing.
Paul Daugherty question it on The Morning Line Thursday morning. "Ced Benson was not pleased with the LJ move. It wasnt just what he said yesterday, but how he said it. Even as M. Lewis has said repeatedly that #32 is the guy, you could tell Benson was more than a little hissed." Definitely boogers.
Cnati's Scott Priestle writes, "Cedric Benson did not bother to put on a happy face Wednesday. He insisted he has no opinion about the Bengals signing former Pro Bowl running back Larry Johnson, but his body language suggested frustration."
The Associated Press' Joe Key writes, "After a light morning workout, Benson didn't have much to say about the Bengals' decision to sign Johnson. Told that he didn't appear to be thrilled with the move, Benson smiled."
Then again, you have to consider that even if Benson isn't happy, or as he subtly put it, "didn't know I was supposed to be jumping out of my seat," that you love the kid for his ambition. Now it feels like it he might be challenged with Johnson. Running back controversy? I doubt it. But based on people's competitive nature, the idea that Johnson is sitting patiently behind Benson does challenge him.
Now he's even more motivated. Now, with a weak three game stretch, you know Benson is going to kick some ass and not bother taking names because he's going to beat the crap out of the letters that compose the names too. Don't agree?
"Most of the time, you hold your fate in your own hands," Benson said. "I'm not letting up in any aspect of what I do. I expect to continue to be the No. 1 guy, and if not, I'll make it that way."
At this point, you can only grin like giddy fans grin.