It's Cedric Benson Or Nothing And Kevin Huber On Pace To Break Franchise Punting Record

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 25: Cedric Benson #32 of the Cincinnati Bengals is brought down after a gain by Carlos Rogers #22 of the San Francisco 49ers at Paul Brown Stadium on September 25, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. San Francisco defeated Cincinnati 13-8. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Think of it this way, punter Kevin Huber is on pace to set a franchise record for most punts in a season, six more than Kyle Larson's record of 100 punts in 2008. Now that's perspective.

There's no doubt. When Cedric Benson is active for the Cincinnati Bengals, he's clearly the team's feature back. This year more so than any since the 2009 season -- when Benson became the team's focus on offense during their most recent AFC North championship season. The Bengals have run 73 running plays this year with 58 attempted by Benson, achieving nearly 80% of the team's total running plays. Considering that Benson has the best yard/rush average (4.2) on the team, save for Brian Leonard who only has two rushes, maybe that's not a bad thing. But there's a need for consistency and that's not happening with Benson and the Bengals rushing offense this year.

It's the most Benson has been featured as the team's running back dating back to the 2009 season. Last year Benson carried the football 321 times out of 428 called runs by the Bengals (75%). And in 2009, if we exclude games he didn't play (Oakland, Cleveland, NY Jets, Benson mirrored 2010, rushing 301 times out of a possible 399 called runs (though was slightly better). That year Benson missed three games, allowing Bernard Scott to receive a significant number of snaps in a three-game stretch between the Steelers, Raiders and Browns, posting 239 yards rushing, a 4.59 yard/rush average and his lone career NFL start against the Cleveland Browns (Brian Leonard started against the Raider).

  Rushes Benson Scott Leonard
2011 73 58 8 2
2010 428 321 61 9
2009 505* 301 74 27
* Team ran 399 times during games Benson played.

During games Benson played dating back to 2009, he's carried the football 75.6% of the team's total rushes for an average of 3.8 yards/rush.

That being said, the Cincinnati Bengals are on pace to run the football 389 times this year, which will be the first time they've rushed less than 400 times in a season since 1995 (364). And it's not because the Bengals are throwing at a 59% clip this year; it's because they're unable to sustain drives averaging only 28:16 on time of possession, which will be the lowest since 1997 (27:56).

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