No one doubts in his return to Paul Brown Stadium for Thursday's 7 p.m. preseason game that marks his Green Bay debut (11: 35 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 12) that hard-running Cedric Benson is going to be running extra hard against his old mates.
"I can remember the one time I played Chicago," Benson recalled Monday night from Packerland. "I did give it a little extra kick."
But Benson admits it's not quite the same as his 189-yard wreckage of the Bears at PBS in 2009, the NFL record for most yards by a back against his former team.
"It's the preseason. You don't have a whole week to prepare for an opponent and the coaches aren't putting all their cards on the table," Benson said. "Plus, it's my debut so I'm just trying to get ready for the season. It's the same thing for me. I'm just trying to get better every year."
And while there may not be the animosity for the Bengals that he had for the Bears, Benson made it clear he's still mystified why the Bengals didn't opt to re-sign him after three straight 1,000-yard seasons.
"I am surprised and I'm not surprised," Benson said. "I think the offensive coordinator wanted to go in a different direction."
Benson and Jay Gruden didn't hide their back-and-forth last season. Benson was miffed when Gruden worked Bernard Scott into the rotation and Gruden didn't sound particularly pleased when Benson bristled. A total of 12 fumbles in the last two years sealed the deal.
"The thing about Ced is that he's a great competitor and he wants to succeed personally and sometimes people take that to mean he's a selfish guy," Gruden said after Monday's practice. "But really, I think he practiced hard, he played hard."
While Gruden said the Bengals "weren't looking to run him out of town," they also pursued New England's BenJarvus Green-Ellis to team with Scott. Before The Law Firm got hurt in the opener, BJGE flashed why the Bengals sought him: Patience, a nose for the goal line, and good hands in the passing game. Although he said Monday either Green-Ellis or Scott could claim the bell cow job, Gruden has indicated he'll use both. Ironically, while Benson makes his debut, Green-Ellis (foot) and Scott (hand) won't play.
"Ced left here on great terms," head coach Marvin Lewis said Monday. "It was a great season. We lost in the playoffs. We think nothing but very highly of Ced Benson. He did great things here. He was a good guy for our team."
Benson sounded a bit surprised to hear such praise.
"That's good to hear, I guess," he said.
After an emotional appearance on Sirius Radio, Benson, 29, didn't get a job until backs started going down in training camp. He has said he picked the Packers two weeks ago over the Lions and Raiders because the Packers have a shot at going to the Super Bowl.
"It's not the way I thought it was going to happen," Benson admitted Monday. "With my résumé, I thought I deserved some better coin, but it doesn't matter now."
The résumé includes the only Bengal in history to have 1,000-yard seasons in two playoff runs. But he's not sure what kind of reception he'll get from the crowd.
"I enjoyed the fans there. They're great, they supported me," he said. "Maybe I can get a couple of them to cheer for me, but I don't know. We'll see."
Benson has been looking at Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer's crew on tape, and he's not surprised he's impressed.
"Zimmer always does a good job and they've got a lot of guys that have been there awhile now," Benson said. "They've got some guys that I think are going to be in the Pro Bowl. They're good up front. Domata (Peko) always has been very good and Geno Atkins. Michael Johnson is playing well. They've got Leon (Hall) back. They've got the ability to switch around from a 4-3 to a 3-4. It's a good test."
If everyone knows Benson is going to come out with shoulder pads square, they also know the Bengals safeties won't back down. Particularly the way they're hitting now, led by one of Benson's good friends from the Cincy days, Taylor Mays. Mays kept in touch with Benson during the offseason, but hasn't spoken to him since he signed in Green Bay.
"He's a good dude and a good back," Mays said before practice Monday. "Guys liked him here. They respected him and his work ethic, how much he cared about the game. He'll come out and play hard against us and we'll play hard against him.
"He treated the situation like a professional (when Benson thanked the Bengals back in March instead of bashing them). I think he knew it was going to be wait and see what happens. Obviously now he's on a perennial team in a city that loves football, so what more can you ask for?"
Benson has noticed Mays, too.
"All those guys are flying around," Benson said. "Taylor. Reggie (Nelson). Everybody will be playing hard, trying to get better."
Two weeks ago Packers head coach Mike McCarthy ended practice early because he didn't have enough healthy backs to finish and James Starks, Brandon Saine and Du'ane Bennett may all be shelved for Thursday.
"I think I'll be getting a lot of work with the ones this week," Benson said, "but I don't know what's going to happen in the regular season."
But everyone knows what's going to happen Thursday.
"Ced always runs hard," Mays said.