Competition or Controversy?

Cedric Benson is busy studying the playbook and Ron Turner's offense, but the biggest thing he's learned since being selected by the Bears is a lesson away from the field.

With the competition between Benson and incumbent Thomas Jones to play out in Bourbonnais, getting a contract done on time could be the important part of the process.

Benson finds himself caught between trying to secure his future, while making sure he'll be around long enough to sign more than one deal.

"It is a fine line and a tough balance, but you just set your morals and get your mind set on what you want to do and I think everything will take care of itself," Benson said.

A holdout would be the worst-case scenario for Benson and the Bears. It's something the rookie plans on avoiding, if at all possible.

"Definitely because if I'm not here I can't contribute and I'm only putting myself behind if I'm not here," Benson said. "I'm not the type of guy that likes to do something different because it's something I want. I understand this is a team and no one man can win a game by himself."

Ever since the Bears used the fourth overall pick in the draft on Benson, the popular theory has been that Jones is merely renting the starting job until August.

In light of the Bears' league-worst offense, Jones' 948 rushing yards on 240 carries (4.0-yard average) and team-best 56 receptions for 427 yards were impressive. But his numbers weren't enough to convince the Bears to pass up a potential franchise runner in Benson.

Jones denied that he's using Benson's presence to motivate himself to the next level after putting up the best numbers of his career.

"I motivate myself just by my will to play the game and be the best player I can be," he said. "That's how I've always played and that's how I'll continue to play."

New offensive coordinator Ron Turner has proposed using both Jones and Benson extensively. But Jones was considered an ideal fit in last year's offense that placed a premium on utilizing the running back as a primary receiver. Turner's scheme is thought to prioritize a power running game, which would appear more geared toward Benson's talents.

"He's a great back and he's a good receiver too at the same time," Benson said of Jones. "I think in a lot of ways we're similar and in a lot of way's we're a lot different. I think we'll both pose a big threat to a defense and we'll both have great success for the team."

For now, coaches say the No. 1 job belongs to the veteran, but it's rare for a team coming off a 5-11 season not to get a high draft pick on the field immediately, other than at quarterback.

"We have two guys that can play, and the challenge is to find a way to maximize their talents and get them both on the field and get them both being impact players, which is something we can do," Turner said.

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