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Cedric Benson has had an unpredictable rookie season. He missed training camp in an attempt to get a better contract. Then when he started to get involved in the offense, he suffered a knee injury that sidelined him for nearly half of the season. Nearly healthy, Benson has a chance to make a difference in the playoffs.

Fresh off a National Title celebration for his alma mater, Texas, Benson is hoping to add another championship celebration to his schedule. The rookie running back now has his focus on the playoffs.

Benson finally had an opportunity to get back on the field for the Bears in the season finale after spending six weeks on the sidelines with an MCL sprain. While not yet at 100 percent, he seemed relieved to have had the opportunity for some playing time before the playoffs begin.

"There is that horrible moment of hesitation when you've been injured then return to the game," Benson said. "I'll admit that I was a little cautious for the first series. There's the thought in the back of your mind, wondering if you're out there just to get hurt again. But once I got started, that disappeared completely."

But the first thing that Benson, who had 9 carries for 35 yards against the Vikings, noticed after the game was some soreness in his injured knee. He hopes that will disappear with some time in the tub and a weekend to rest.

"It's not a big deal, just not quite where it should be yet. I do feel that I've made significant progress however. "Benson said. "What I was glad to find was that my lateral movement had returned. Earlier I could run straight ahead, but my cuts were not up to my standards. With the extra rest I got this week, I should be fine by the playoffs."

Benson returned to Texas this weekend for some serious R&R, "just sitting on the couch, eating home cooked meals and watching football on television," he said.

"I haven't been back in a while and of course we missed all the holidays as the Bears had games scheduled then. I'm looking forward to seeing friends, hanging out with my family, and relaxing as completely as possible."

When asked if he had ever anticipated actually being in the playoff hunt during his first year in the NFL, Benson laughed and shook his head.

"The early picks usually go to teams that haven't been so good the year before the draft, so, no, I never imagined the Bears would be contenders in 2005. This is great. What an experience, especially for the rookies. We'll all learn things that we can build on for 2006."


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