Things just keep getting better for the Cincinnati Bengals. The day after WR Jerome Simpson had a package of two-and-a-half pounds of marijuana confiscated (as well as being caught with another six-plus pounds of pot at his house), Bengals RB Cedric Benson has been administered a three-game suspension due to violation of the conduct policy during the lockout, according to Mike Silver at Yahoo!
In a fortuitous twist of fate for the Bengals, Benson has been cleared to play this weekend when they host the San Francisco 49ers. However, Benson is set to be in court next Tuesday and should his appeal not pan out, he will miss games against the Bills, Jaguars and Colts.
Like a baseball lineup losing a member of its bullpen, the Bengals offense just suffered a major blow with the loss of Benson. The bulky 5’11" and 227-pound RB is known for his bursts of speed, agility and sheer tenacity on the field.
There’s no doubting Benson’s quickness and ability to dodge tacklers, which he’s proven time and again in his seven seasons in the NFL. Benson’s ability to distress the defense has made him an asset to the Bengals offense. In the first two weeks of the season, a win over Cleveland and a nail-biting loss to Denver, he’s collected 41 carries for 180 yards.
As integral as Benson is to this Bengals team, his actions off the field prior to this incident have not demonstrated his reliability to the team. Jason La Canfora at NFL.com reports,
“Benson spent five days in a Texas jail earlier this month for misdemeanor assault. The jail spell took care of two misdemeanor assault cases in Austin, Texas. He pleaded no contest and was given a 20-day jail sentence that was reduced in part because he volunteered to mop floors and help paint crews. He also got credit for time served after his arrests."
After the terrible news of Simpson and now Benson, can the Bengals rally for a victory against the 49ers on Sunday?
In what was meant to be a year of growth and success for the Bengals on the field, it seems the players' exploits off the field have garnered the majority of the press. Between the Jerome Simpson debacle and now this shocking news about Benson, the Bengals will have to rise in the face of adversity, which based on their history, hasn’t been their strong suit.
Since 1990, the Bengals have logged just two winning seasons, highlighted by a 10-6 finish in 2009. Last year, however, was another cynical season in Cincinnati, as the Bengals finished 4-12 with the only upside being the hope of a potent addition of a high draft pick. The draft delivered for the Bengals, who are now more than ever relying on their new one-two punch of QB Andy Dalton and speedy WR AJ Green.
Benson's mistake will not only cost him, but it will create a substantial hole in the Bengals offense. For Benson, Sunday against the 49ers—most likely his final game before the three-day suspension—will be a call to arms, an opportunity for him to prove not only his dedication to the team, but also his value on the Bengals squad.