One injured Green Bay Packers is back, another is out.
Cedric Benson will remain on injured reserve for the rest of the season after having surgery Wednesday on his sprained left foot. The running back was able to resume practicing last week after being placed on the injured reserve but designated to return list Oct. 10, and could have played as early as Dec. 9. But he never did practice, and the odds of him returning seemed grim early in the week when coach Mike McCarthy said Benson was being re-evaluated.
”Cedric Benson had surgery yesterday. That was the final conclusion,” McCarthy said Thursday. ”He will not be back with us this season.”
McCarthy did not give any more details on the surgery or Benson’s prognosis.
The news comes in the same week that Greg Jennings, Green Bay’s No. 1 receiver, prepares to return after missing the last seven games with a torn muscle in his abdomen.
”It kind of seems that’s what it’s like to play in the NFL now,” fullback John Kuhn said. ”Guys are dropping like flies. We’re going to get some guys back here the next couple of weeks, we know that. When they get back, we’re going to play some good football.”
Benson was the workhorse of Green Bay’s running game, leading the Packers with 248 yards rushing – more than the rest of the team combined – when he went out. Since then, the Packers have used a rotation of Kuhn, Alex Green and James Starks.
”We just need to pick up our end now,” Kuhn said. ”We’ve been playing hard, we’ve been getting better each and every week since Ced’s been out. We were all sorry to hear that he wouldn’t be coming back this season, it’s definitely a blow. But we’ve all got to pick up a little bit of slack.”
The running game remains a work in progress, though it has shown signs of improvement. Green Bay had its best day on the ground in three years against the Arizona Cardinals, breaking loose for 176 yards. Four players – Aaron Rodgers, Randall Cobb, Starks and Green – had 25 yards rushing or more, a first since 2003.
The Packers haven’t had the same success since, though the return of Jennings could actually help that. He is yet another player opponents will have to focus on, and if defenses get overwhelmed trying to shut down him, Jordy Nelson, James Jones and Cobb, it could open up some opportunities for the running game.
”I feel we have a good rotation. It’s just really finding the things they all do well and play to that and have that in sync with the run-blocking unit,” McCarthy said. ”If we can just kind of find that rhythm, that definitely would benefit us.”