Thursday's loss to the Chargers took place on a night when James Starks continued his subpar play and Alex Green—while doing better—still didn't look great and is coming off an ACL injury.
Benson is coming off three straight 1,000-yard seasons, which isn't as impressive these days as it used to be. Aside from the totals, Benson is just a straight-ahead runner who will get you about four yards a carry (at best) and move the chains.
Why this move, then, and what does it mean?
The why is a good question. Some of it had to be James Starks' bad fumble Thursday night. Benson has had issues holding onto the ball but had improved in recent seasons.
Also, it makes you think that maybe they aren't as faithful that the trio of backs they have will stay healthy. Certainly Starks doesn't seem to have that proclivity, though it is unfair to judge Alex Green on just one season with a freak injury.
Finally, pass protection is a concern since left tackle isn't looking very good.
Benson can do that—he has both the size and skill as well as the experience. Both Green and Starks have struggled in pass protection at times, and the Packers will want to be as careful as possible protecting their franchise quarterback with the left tackle a question mark.
So what does this mean for the rest of the backs?
Well, it's a bad sign for Starks. He's never carried more than 13 times in a game, and Benson hasn't carried less than that in a long time. Benson is also a pretty powerful runner between the tackles in a way Starks has never been.
Watching Starks run last night, I realized that the moment he's hit at the line, he stops moving his legs. The momentum he had disappears and—bang, he's not going any farther.
So expect a minimized role for Starks as long as Benson stays healthy.
Alex Green will now have a slightly tougher path to the top, but this doesn't write him off completely. While he will see less carries perhaps, they still don't know what they have in him (or don't, if you're a glass-half-empty type).
The way the Packers spread out carries, his total wouldn't have been huge anyway. He may still bounce past James Starks, who is now battling a turf-toe injury.
Both he and Brandon Saine are guys who can still prove themselves—we know Benson is no long-term solution.
I have to wonder if Starks' time has pretty much passed now. Injury and lackluster play may spell a huge reduction in his role.
While he was considered the lead back of the three Packers of himself, Saine and Green, his seems the most precarious position.
I don't expect a huge uptick in carries for any Packers running back. It's still a Rodgers-focused team.
They were looking for someone healthy and reliable though, and Benson can provide that much.
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