Benson re-signs

Updated: 8:20 p.m.

The Bengals filled a major gap Tuesday when they re-signed their starting running back for the upcoming season a day after Cedric Benson visited the Texans.

After joining the club with the benefit of no training camp following the season's fourth game, Benson finished the year with back-to-back 100-yard games that included the biggest rushing day by a Bengal in 68 games when he went for a career-high 171 against Cleveland.


Benson
The move also opens up the first couple of rounds of the NFL Draft, where the Bengals now don't have to take a running back.

Benson, 26, shed his image as a moody player with off-field problems by becoming one of the few bright spots in the 4-11-1 season with the longest run (46 yards) and longest catch (79) in several seasons.

According to ESPN.com, it won him a two-year deal for $7 million. And he'll appear Wednesday at an 11 a.m. Paul Brown Stadium news conference to talk about the role he literally ran away with back in November on the way to career highs with 747 yards and 20 catches following three tough seasons with the Bears.

"Cedric was recognized as an elite talent coming out of college," said head coach Marvin Lewis in a press release. "His years in Chicago weren't what he hoped for, but he was able to give us a lift on the field and be a great presence in the locker room. He earned everyones respect, and were excited to let him continue to grow in our system."

Benson joined the Bengals Sept. 30, five days after two Travis County grand juries in his native Texas declined to indict him on charges of boating while intoxicated, resisting arrest in May and driving while intoxicated in June during two incidents that spurred his release from the Bears.

Two of the happiest guys after hearing Tuesday's news were his guards, right guard Bobbie Williams and left guard Andrew Whitworth.

"He came in here with great character, very humble, very hungry," Whitworth said. "We weren't sure what we were getting, but the guy's been nothing but great. He works hard. He studies hard.

"And the way he played at the end of the year after just getting here, it shows you how talented he is. He's a guy that is going to get a lot of yards for us. He can run zones, but he can also go downhill on you."

Williams instantly remembered Benson's signature play of the season: The 15-yard run Oct. 19 that he finished off with a concussion-inducing shot of Troy Polamalu at the end of what was then the longest run of the season against the Steelers.

"Any back that can lay a hit like that on a Pro Bowl safety," Williams said, "I want to block for. He's a tough, physical guy that can read our blocks."  

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