Benson Just a Bystander?

Of the three running backs taken in the top five selections of April's draft, Cedric Benson is off to the slowest start.

Carnell Williams has more yards than any rookie RB after three games. He's helped carry the Buccaneers to a 3-0 start by leading the NFL in rushing with 434 yards on the ground.

Miami's Ronnie Brown had his first 100-yard performance against the Panthers over the weekend. He carried the ball 23 times for 132 yards and a touchdown.

Benson left waterlogged Soldier Field with a spotlessly clean uniform Sunday, just one week after getting 16 carries for 49 yards.

"I don't want to get down about it or get upset about it," Benson said. "I just try to take it in stride and keep rolling."

Because the Bears were in catch-up mode most of the afternoon, and because starter Thomas Jones (106 yards on 27 carries) was running effectively, circumstances were not conducive to getting Benson in the game.

The fourth overall pick in this year's draft was on his way out to the field late in the game to give Jones a breather when he was called back in favor of Adrian Peterson, who caught a seven-yard pass on the next snap.

"We were going to put Cedric in," offensive coordinator Ron Turner said. "The only reason we put Adrian in is because it was a nickel situation, and it was a pass-protection deal that he is (more) ready to handle right now. If it was a normal situation, Cedric would have gone in."

It was the first time in three games that Benson didn't get a touch. Even in the season opener, shortly after he reported 36 days late, Benson carried the ball three times.

He carried the ball 1,112 times at Texas, and the inactivity is a new experience.

"It's a change, definitely," he said. "It's a different situation, but it can be handled, and I'm going to handle it and move on. It's a little bit tough. As a competitor, as a player, you want to be out there making something happen, especially when the team's losing. My time will come."

Bad Footing
Kicker Doug Brien has missed three of his first four attempts this season, but head coach Lovie Smith said the team has no plans to bring in kickers for a tryout during the bye week.

"Doug has missed some big kicks," Smith said. "To me, that's as deep as I can go with it. Soldier Field, wherever else we're playing, we have a kicker that's hit some bad balls and he has to get it right."

Injury Report
Tight end Desmond Clark left Sunday's game against the Bengals with a neck strain and will sit out practice this week. Smith said he expects Clark to be able to play against the Browns on Oct. 9.

Stuck on One WR Bernard Berrian, who was expected to challenge for a starting spot, was shut out for the second straight Sunday and has just one catch this season for nine yards.


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