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Mike Vandermause column: Benson leaves Bears days behind

Sep. 11, 2012
 
Green Bay Packers running back Cedric Benson waits to be introduced before Sunday's game against the San Francisco 49ers.
Green Bay Packers running back Cedric Benson waits to be introduced before Sunday's game against the San Francisco 49ers. / AP

Green Bay Packers running back Cedric Benson harbors no hard feelings toward the Chicago Bears.

Things didn’t work out between Benson and the Bears after three mostly forgettable seasons from 2005-’07, but he’s not looking for revenge when the Packers and Bears meet Thursday night at Lambeau Field.

Any motivation Benson had to show up the Bears likely evaporated in 2009, when as a member of the Cincinnati Bengals he gashed his former team for 189 rushing yards in a 45-10 victory.

“That’s the first time I had saw them since we parted ways and I just wanted to have a good day,” Benson said.

Benson’s time with the Bears is a distant memory after he was chosen fourth overall in the 2005 draft.

On the field, Benson never rushed for more than 674 yards in a season for the Bears. Off the field, his run-ins with the law became a distraction and the Bears released him.

“I don’t have any personal grudge against them,” Benson said in the Packers locker room on Tuesday.

When asked how he has changed since his days in Chicago, Benson replied: “I’m 29 now. I think at the time I was like 24, 25 maybe. You know, I was a young man. I’ve grown up a lot since then.”

Benson has enough to worry about without staring down the ghosts of his Chicago past.

He rushed for just 18 yards on nine carries in the Packers’ 30-22 season-opening loss to San Francisco on Sunday. His primary focus is getting the running game out of first gear.

“It just takes everybody working together,” Benson said. “Guys executing up front, backs feeling good on their pads, making good reads and exploding through the hole.”

Packers coach Mike McCarthy made it clear on Monday that a 2.0-yard rushing average isn’t good enough. Benson is taking those words as a personal challenge.

“It’s always good to hear ’em putting a little extra pressure on,” he said. “You want to get the job done. (I’ve) got a little extra motivation to do it.”

The Packers signed Benson off the street two weeks into training camp and it took him a while to learn a new offensive system.

“(I’m) still getting comfortable with it, understanding the scheme and all that stuff,” he said. “I think we’re there now. I think we can see a lot of progression this (week).”

In a perfect world, Benson would like to carry the ball more than nine times a game.

“I’d love to run it all day if I could,” he said. “But I understood the situation (against the 49ers). We were just in a bad spot to do those type of things.”

The last time Benson played in a Packers-Bears game at Lambeau was in 2007 when he rushed for 64 yards in a 27-20 Chicago victory.

Benson was also on the Bears’ Super Bowl-bound team in 2006 that crushed the Packers 26-0 at Lambeau.

“I remember kind of having the upper hand on the Packers at the time,” said Benson.

Bears coach Lovie Smith wasn’t interested in explaining why things didn’t work out for Benson in Chicago during a teleconference with Wisconsin reporters on Tuesday.

“You know, I don’t live in the past,” Smith said. “Cedric was great. He did a lot for us while he was here. I’m just excited that he’s playing for another good team.”

Benson would like nothing more than to see the Packers win on Thursday, but it really has nothing to do with a desire to stick it to his old team.

“You know what, it’s extra incentive every weekend for me,” said Benson. “You always want to do great against those guys, but that’s not the driving force here.

“Just the fact that it’s the Bears doesn’t change our preparation. It doesn’t max it out any more than it already is. It’s just more exciting.”

mvandermause@greenbaypressgazette.com and follow him on Twitter @MikeVandermause.

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