By SARAH BARSHOP
GREEN BAY – It may not have been his original goal, but running back Cedric Benson accomplished something he was unable to in Green Bay's season-opening loss against the 49ers.
Unlike last week, Benson out-rushed his quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, and lead the team in rushing yards.
“It did (feel good),” Benson said. “(Rodgers) is always running those boots and getting 10-yard gains, and averaging six, seven yards plus, so it feels really good.”
The story of the night, however, was Benson’s 81-yard, 20-carry performance. Coach Mike McCarthy, spoke very highly about the running back after the game.
“I thought Cedric is starting to look a lot more comfortable in our offense,” McCarthy said. “Cedric Benson’s one of those men that was put on this Earth to run the football.”
Benson’s successful night came against the team that drafted him in 2005, and that he played for until his release in October, 2009. Benson played well against his former team, as he has in the past, and said that it is only natural to want to beat them.
“Whether you’re in the business world, if you’re facing a former job, or in this situation, facing a former team, it’s only natural that you’re going to want to kind of leave a stamp, to leave your mark,” Benson said.
“But the main driving force this week was coming off of last week. I really wanted to get the running game established and stuff like that, so the Bears just happened to be the opponent.”
Benson signed with the Packers August 12 as a low-risk option for the team, without a signing bonus. Even if others didn’t see him as a fit, he saw his role on the Packers from the beginning.
“That was fun,” Benson said. “This kind of game, when I signed with Green Bay, this is kind of how I envisioned things going. You know, a couple catches, 15-plus carries, or whatever it may be, whatever number it may be. But this as the perfect game in how I envisioned my experience here as a running back for the Green Bay Packers.”
Benson said that one place he has always gotten support since he got to Green Bay, was in the Packers’ locker room.
“The coaching staff, a lot of the guys, they had a lot of confidence in me, even before I took a handoff for them, and I think they had a vision for themselves, part of bringing me in here, what bringing me in here could do, and what we cold do as an offense,” Benson said.
One of those players is fullback John Kuhn, who spent a lot of time with Benson, and took him under his wing.
“I can’t say enough,” Benson said. “He’s been so much help, not only with me getting down the pass protections, but some of the schemes in the running game, I mean he’s always giving me advice. He’s been a lot of help with camp, I mean, he’s been a blessing in disguise for me, you know, helping me get the playbook down.”
Kuhn, who had two carries for one yard, and three catches for 23 yards, said he saw a big difference in the Packers’ running game against the Bears.
“It was good,” Kuhn said. “I think we got back to what we’ve seen the last couple of years, just mixing up personnel, keeping them off balance, and moving the ball. It was an all around good performance by the team.”
Benson insisted that not much had changed from the first game of the season, and that the game plan was there all along.
“Yeah, honestly, I just feel like we had more opportunities,” Benson said. “We didn’t fall behind, so we were able to stick with it, and I think, last week don’t exist no more, but I think if we would have had more opportunities in that game, we could have created some more runs.”
“We had a lot more cracks at it than we did last weekend, a lot more chances, a lot more attempts.”
And the opportunities were there for Benson. His 20-carry night against the Bears was more than any individual Packer has in a game in all of the 2011 season. He gave a lot of that credit to the offensive line and Rodgers.
“All the credit to the guys up front,” Benson said. “They did a great job staying patient with me, and it was a great opportunity.”
“We ran the ball really good, really effective, guys up front we effective, Aaron was effective as usual, it was a great day.”
In his postgame press conference, Rodgers gave the credit right back to Benson.
“Cedric did a good job of making plays when there was a hole, and making plays when there wasn’t,” Rodgers said. “It’s good to have him out there, good to get him 20 carries tonight. He did a good job finishing the game for us.”
While Benson said during training camp and the preseason that he wanted to run for 100 yards each game, coming up short tonight was okay with him because the Packers got the win. Still, he knew that there were opportunities for him to break 100 yards.
“I had a couple chances to break a few runs, but it’s a good defense, so they played hard and I didn’t expect it to be easy,” Benson said.
Even though he was a last-minute edition, Benson couldn’t be happier to land with a team that is used to winning games. The Packers haven’t lost three games in a row since December 2008.
“You can feel the energy around,” Benson said. “Everybody was eager to win. It didn’t taste good last week and it didn’t feel good when we were kind of preparing for this one, so it feels good.”
“I’m sure there’s a lot more to come and I’m very excited, and very much eager about the future.”
Sarah Barshop covers the Packers for ESPNWisconsin.com. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/sarahbarshop.