Tuesday's Practice: Benson Issue Thickening

As if the Bears running back situation wasn't already overflowing with storylines, Tuesday's practice at Halas Hall was abuzz with the possibility that there might be a rat in the house. Not only did Cedric Benson apparently leave the sideline before the end of last Friday night's game against the Chargers, he also missed a team meeting afterward.

The Thomas Jones vs. Cedric Benson debate took a bizarre twist on Tuesday. It became known that Benson left the sideline before the conclusion of last Friday night's tilt with the San Diego Chargers and was absent from a mandatory team meeting afterward.

That in itself would be newsworthy, but apparently, Benson was ratted out to the coaching staff by some of his own teammates. The fact that all of this somehow left the inner sanction of the locker room and became public is perhaps the most disturbing element of this story, and the players were noticeably united in their decision to say very little to reporters before Tuesday's practice.

Mike Brown is confident that this is just another bump in the road and won't have any lingering effects on what his ballclub is trying to accomplish this season.

"It's not going to shake this team," he said. "We have rules and regulations that everyone follows. If you break them, there's repurcussions or whatever. There's consequences. So, we make choices, and we have consequences. That's the bottom line. But the business that we're in, it's all on performance. I think most of the guys in this locker room understand that. I don't think it's going to shake this team up at all. We've got strong character (and) a bunch of guys that want to win football games, so it's really not a big deal."

Although he was smiley and polite like he always is, Alex Brown wanted absolutely nothing to do with any questions surroundering the Benson situation.

"I'm trying to get dressed right now for practice," he said playfully. "So I'm just going to get dressed."

Brown's defensive end partner, Adewale Ogunleye, was equally tight-lipped on the issue.

"We realize it's a sticky situation," he said. "I really don't know what's happened. I don't know who said what. I really haven't read the articles, so I'm really not the guy to really comment on that, but it's ridiculous. That's all I can say."

Team leader Olin Kreutz says Benson's violation shouldn't be anybody else's concern and that the rules are clear when violations occur.

"It's not the locker room's business," he said. "People break rules, they take our money. That's the way it goes. Sometimes they take my money. And it sucks, but when you break a rule, they take your money."

Most of the players claimed that they didn't need to get an apology from Benson in order to put the issue to rest, but quarterback Rex Grossman offered a different perspective on the experience.

"He came up to me and apologized to me yesterday, so that was big of him, and to me, it's over. It's now just up to coach Smith to do what he has to do to him, and it will be a dead issue."

Not only is Jones the obvious choice among veterns on the team to remain the starter at tailback, but episodes like this prove that Benson has done very little to endear himself to his teammates and win favor in the locker room.

JC


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