GREEN BAY, Wis. — Packers running back Cedric Benson will remain on injured reserve for the rest of this season after undergoing surgery Wednesday.
“He will not be back with us this season,” coach Mike McCarthy said at his Thursday afternoon press conference.
Benson was initially placed on Green Bay’s injured reserve Oct. 10 following a Lisfranc foot injury, but the team designated him for return under the NFL’s new rule. Under this rule, Benson had to sit out six weeks of practice, a period of time which expired this week. However, with Benson not healing as expected, he had a follow-up medical appointment this week that determined surgery was necessary.
“It’s a big loss,” tight end Jermichael Finley told FOXSportsWisconsin.com. “He’s got so much respect around the league, if you put a guy like that in, you get the respect of the linebackers and the (defensive backs) that are scooting up in the box.”
The Packers signed Benson midway through preseason on Aug. 12, and the 29-year-old veteran immediately took over the starting running back role.
In five regular-season starts for Green Bay, Benson accumulated 248 rushing yards on 71 attempts (3.5 average) with one touchdown.
“Cedric I felt was playing very well each and every week as we moved forward,” McCarthy said.
Two weeks ago, Benson was talking as if returning this season was a given. He had even specifically targeted being back on the field for game action on Dec. 16 in Chicago.
“I’m very confident about saying I’ll be back before the season’s over,” Benson said on Nov. 16. “I was going up and down with, should we have surgery? Let’s wait and see what the foot tells us, what the X-rays — we take several X-rays as we go about this process — and I was struggling a little bit with it, because naturally when any player gets hurt, he wants to come back as fast as he can.
“(I’m) always at home doing little tests, regardless of what the doctors are telling (me), it’s just natural that you want to see where you’re at and you want to get back out there fast. So I was struggling with, is what I’m doing hurting it or helping it? And just trying to look for a definitive answer.”
Apparently, none of that extra work at home helped Benson.
As the team has done since Benson’s injury, the Packers’ rushing attack is in the hands of Alex Green and James Starks, who have been battling back and forth as the starter in recent weeks.
Green had three consecutive weeks of 20-plus carries — a rarity for a running back in McCarthy’s offense — in the three games that followed Benson getting hurt. But when Green’s last two starts ended with rushing averages of 1.8 yards and 2.5 yards, McCarthy turned to Starks.
In a win over the Detroit Lions on Nov. 18, Starks was handed the ball 25 times, while Green did not touch it once. When those results weren’t to McCarthy’s liking, Green was reinserted as the featured back in last week’s loss to the New York Giants.
“We’ve been rotating Alex Green, James Starks and now having (fullback) John Kuhn back, I feel we have a good rotation,” McCarthy said. “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.”
Benson, who ran for 1,000-plus yards in each of the past three seasons while playing for the Cincinnati Bengals, will be a free agent this offseason.