Benson Open

Cedric Benson says he's open to coming back to the Bengals next season. Even if they take a running back fairly high in the draft, which they are expected to do.

"Competition is always fine," said Benson before Thursday's practice.

Benson is working on a one-year deal after joining the club late in September following his much publicized split with the Bears. He hasn't had much running room and take away his 104-yard game against the Jaguars, he's averaging 2.6 yards per his 90 carries. But the conventional wisdom is he's improved his stock around the league with hard running on the field and all the right things off it.


Benson
"In a small margin," said Benson, when asked if he's done what he wanted to do. "Preferably I'd like it to be a lot better than this. It's never a one-man show in football. It takes a whole unit to get a task done."

If he signs back, he assumes there are going to be some differences, but he can see a quick reversal and still feels re-signing is an option.

"There would have to be some (changes) in some areas you would think. I leave that up to the guys making the decisions to find those areas and make it happen," Benson said. "Things can get turned around in an offseason. Look at what Miami has done in their situation. A lot of teams get it turned around in a year now."

SLANTS AND SCREENS

Left tackle Levi Jones is trying to figure out what exactly is the problem with his back/leg/hamstring. But what he does know for sure is he's not going to play Sunday in Indianapolis and that he does want to return even though the season is lost.

"This game is all about competition and we're playing some real good competition," Jones said. "What I'm trying to find out what exactly the injury is and get healthy and go from there."


Jones
In the meantime, Jones is coaching up rookie Anthony Collins on dealing with Colts pass rusher Dwight Freeney after Freeney beat the Browns last week with a sack and strip. Freeney has been dealing with some injury issues of his own but Jones said, "No matter where he is, he's still effective. On some plays he looks 100 percent like the old Freeney and on some plays it looks like he's fighting through it. He's still a great one."

Jones made his second NFL start against Freeney when they were both rookies in 2002, a matchup of the 10th and 11th picks in the draft, respectively.

"I tell (Collins) it's like a basketball game. You're playing basketball," Jones said. "He can go outside, inside, spin, he can do it all. (Collins) has done a good job with the freedom they're giving him. They're giving him help. They haven't thrown him to the fire, but he's also done a good job with it."

Safety John Busing may or may not get his first NFL start Sunday in place of Marvin White. Both he and Kyries Hebert are getting reps and figure to play a lot against the Colts. Busing, a free agent out of Miami University, has hung around for three years on brains and brawn, mainly on special teams, but he got some scrimmage snaps in last season's final two games.

"The Colts don't have a complicated offense, but they're explosive," Busing said. "I've been going into the film room trying to get some things to anticipate and then go out on the practice field like it's a game."

The NFL? It stands for Not For Long, right? Busing is going to be the Bengals' only active DB Sunday that played with Colts cornerback Keiwan Ratliff in the regular season and Ratliff only left before the 2007 season.

"He's doing well. It looks like the scheme is a good fit for him in the Cover 2," Busing said. "He anticipates routes well."

Rookie linebacker Keith Rivers had the wires taken off his broken jaw Tuesday and defensive tackle Domata Peko walked by him Thursday and told him there was some meat for lunch that he could grind up now that he's off the liquids.

"I can go for the soft food now; grind it up," said Rivers, who also started lifting weights again this week.

He still had a good Thanksgiving even though it was soup. The mother of linebackers coach Jeff FitzGerald cooked him up some turkey soup on her visit to Cincinnati, along with some other soups.

"Very thoughtful," he said.

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