On Tuesday, Cincinnati Bengals running back Cedric Benson was arrested and charged with assault from an incident that occurred last month in Austin, Texas.
According to Tony Plohetski and Kevin Robbins of Statesman.com, Benson punched an employee at Annie's West after refusing to be escorted out of the bar following a fight with another person. He could face up to one year in jail if convicted.
Unfortunately, this isn't the first time Benson has seen his trouble with the law. During his time with the Chicago Bears, he was arrested twice within a month for alcohol charges, one of which included operating a boat while intoxicated.
Not only does this incident make the Bengals look bad, but many wonder if Benson could face suspension by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for not reporting the incident when it first happened.
Either way, Benson's recent arrest couldn't have come at a worse time for Cincinnati, who will begin training camp one month from now in Georgetown, Kentucky.
Benson played a major role in the success of the ground game for the Bengals in 2009. If suspended, his absence could have a major effect on not only him, but the rest of the offense.
Last season, the Bengals transitioned from a pass-first team to one that relied heavily on their ground game, led by Benson. They finished ninth in the NFL by averaging 128.5 yards per game, but found out towards the end of the season how difficult it is to run the ball as much when trailing in the second half.
One of the top priorities for Cincinnati this offseason was to add enough talent to improve last year's 26th ranked passing unit. With the additions of Antonio Bryant, Jermaine Gresham, and Jordan Shipley, the passing game is expected to be much better than 2009.
And with the possibility of Benson sidelined the first couple games of the season, the Bengals may rely on the passing game even more with the absence of their top running back.
Second-year running back Bernard Scott was a solid fill-in for Benson, who missed two games with a hip injury. In two games against the Oakland Raiders and Cleveland Browns, he rushed for a combined 206 yards.
However, Scott lacks experience as a starter and will face two tough defenses—the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens—the first two weeks of the 2010 season. Against Oakland, 61 of his 119 yards came off one rush. Other than that, he averaged just 2.9 yards per carry against a Raiders' defense that finished 29th at stopping the run.
With this in mind, is Scott capable of handling the starting job at running back if Benson is suspended?
Brian Leonard will always be a fan favorite in Cincinnati after his heroics on a fourth-and-10 play late in the fourth quarter to help the Bengals come back in their 23-20 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Despite being the No. 3 running back, Leonard was always seen as the go-to guy for the Bengals on third down. His numbers were better in the receiving department in 2009 as Cincinnati didn't need him as much for running the ball with Benson, Scott, and Larry Johnson handling most of the carries.
In this scenario, he may be expected to handle more carries as a backup to Scott during the first couple of games this season.
So who exactly is Cedric Peerman?
Well, he was a former sixth-round pick of the Baltimore Ravens out of Virginia during the 2009 NFL Draft. Since then, he's hopped around to numerous teams, including the Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions. Unfortunately for Peerman, he always seems to end up on waivers.
Cincinnati picked up Peerman after the Lions waived him last April. He may not have any NFL experience yet, but the Bengals may keep him around as a third-string running back depending on what happens with Benson.
Last week, one of the top stories in Cincinnati was how the Bengals opened talks up with Benson about a contract extension. He was entering the final season of his two-year deal, and according to numerous sources, the team was interested in possibility adding three years to his contract.
Many questioned whether or not this was the right move for the Bengals at the time. Sure, Benson was coming off his best season after rushing for 1,251 yards and six touchdowns, but many thought it would be wise to make sure he could be consistent and not just a one-year wonder.
Now, the Bengals find themselves in a situation where they won't feel any pressure from Benson or his agent to get a deal done as quickly as possible. After this latest incident, the smart move for Cincinnati would be to see how 2010 plays out before making a final decision.