ATLANTA - FILE: Cedric Benson #32 of the Cincinnati Bengals against the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on October 24, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. According to reports on July 31, 2011 the Bengals will re-sign Benson to a one year deal. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Since it seems that the Bengals are content with starting a rookie quarterback, Andy Dalton, this season for the first time since they started Greg Cook in 1969. They're also playing under new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden for the first time. Because of this, the offense will need to rely heavily on veteran running back Cedric Benson. However, they won't just need to rely on him in the running game.
"What he needs to do is become a better receiver and do some of the other things that are going to be more important to us in our offense," Lewis said Thursday before practice. "He has to be more diligent in the passing game: being in the right spots, getting the right route run, and getting it run correctly and precisely while have the speed and energy out of the cuts."
NFL defenses love to blitz young and unproven quarterbacks. When they inevitably send extra pressure Dalton's way, it will be important for him to be able to have some sort of safety valvue to get rid of the ball quickly. Tight end Jermaine Gresham and slot receiver Jordan Shipley will help but a running back who can slip out of the backfield and get open quickly will help just as much, if not more.
As far as Benson is concerned, he doesn't mind having an expanded role with the offense at all. He likes the idea of getting the ball in his hands more often.
"If having a rookie quarterback causes them to rely on me a lot more, then I'm excited he's here," Benson said. "I've always dreamed of being in that role and having that opportunity to kind of carry a team. That's all I know how to do."
Hopefully Benson can help make Dalton's transition from TCU quarterback to professional quarterback a little easier.