It does Cedric Benson no good to worry about old teammate (and rival) Thomas Jones. However, Jones said of Benson: "He failed to realize that the guys ahead of him, we all had great careers. I don't think he realized the talent he had in front of him. I think that blocked him from learning from us. It prevented him from becoming a well-rounded back. I looked at him like a little kid."
This weekend, Benson might be splitting carries with, not one back but, two backs in Chris Perry and Kenny Watson. Says Benson, "I don't think you can really learn how to do that kind of thing. You learn how to accept it, as to how the offense is styled and how the coaches want to run it. You do your best to make it work."
Geoff Hobson talks about the high level of play by Leon Hall.
With fellow starting cornerback Johnathan Joseph on the shelf, Hall played big-time games against Plaxico Burress and Terrell Owens. Yeah, he let Owens get inside of him too easily on the 57-yard crossing route for a TD last Sunday, but the fault lay pretty much with the safety taking the wrong angle as stand-up guy Marvin White has attested.
When Burress and Owens combine for five catches, that's some pretty good play. I think they'd like to get the same kind of physicality, durability and consistency from Joseph. Joseph has great closing speed and superb coverage skills and has Pro Bowl tools.
I wrote a preview for the New York Times (not yet published), and predicted a 27-24, Bengals win.
Dr. Z puts the Bengals 30th in his power rankings.
List of emerging players in the NFL.
Cincinnati: SS Chinedum Ndukwe. The winless Bengals have sorely lacked impact defensive plays but Ndukwe has provided a few of them. Starting the past four games in place of the injured Dexter Jackson (thumb), Ndukwe is atop the team's defensive rankings in sacks (one) and interceptions (one) to go along with 26 tackles.
Free agents: The good, the bad and Javon Walker. Bengals have two players listed, both as bad free agent signings.
Cincinnati TE Ben Utecht: I loved the guy in Indianapolis and thought he could be a big help to the Bengals. Apparently, so did the Bengals, who envisioned using him as a third wide receiver. Nice try. Utecht has five catches and hasn't been a factor in a disappointing passing game. I don't know what the problem is, but the Bengals must get it -- or Utecht -- straightened out. This guy should be more than a hood ornament.
Cincinnati DE Antwan Odom: This is another move I thought would pay off. Odom was one of the best-kept secrets in Tennessee and figured to make a lot of money on the open market. He did, pocketing $29.5 million in a five-year deal before going on extended vacation. Fourteen tackles and one sack is not what the club had in mind when it backed up the Brink's truck, but I'll cut him some slack: He didn't play in preseason because of a foot injury and had four tackles in his third start last week.