CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 11: Cedric Benson #32 of the Cincinnati Bengals warms up prior to the season opener against the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium on September 11, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Jay Gruden came into the season saying that his West Coast offense was going to pound the ball early and often with running back Cedric Benson. He wasn't kidding. After one game, Cedric Benson is tied for the league lead with the Washington Redskin's Tim Hightower for the most carries with 25.
This is what Benson wanted -- a return to the way things were in 2009, when he carried the ball 301 times for 1,251 yards -- and he's working hard to make sure he can handle it. He's been making extra trips to the weight room. He worked out in there every day of the week and twice on Thursday. Of the extra work he just said, "With as much as I'm going to get the ball this year, I need to get in there as often as I can."
The Broncos showed that they had a tough time stopping the Raiders' Darren McFadden from running all over them, carrying the ball 22 times for 150 yards. If they have the same problems this Sunday against the Bengals, Benson could have his third string of back-to-back 100-yard games, and that's nothing to be taken lightly.
Of course this is all very exciting to Benson. He complained last season that the team changed its identity from a power-running team to a passing team and that it wasn't working. He was so unhappy that he said he wouldn't come back to the Bengals unless Bob Bratkowski was fired. Well Bratkowski was fired and Benson couldn't be happier with the new offensive coordinator.
"He's a jokester. Great sense of humor. I can't remember the last time I had that type of a relationship like that with an offensive coordinator," Benson said. "That's good. When you're a focal point or a big factor in an offense or on a team, you always want to have a relationship with your coordinator because he's the one calling the plays and coordinating the play and you always want to be on the same page. I think we've got a pretty good relationship thus far and I enjoy the guy."
Hopefully a happy running back off the field translates to a lot of yards on the field. Even though Dalton showed a lot of poise for a rookie quarterback, the team is still going to lean heavily on the run and that means they're going to lean heavily on Benson.