With an update on the condition of running back Cedric Benson possible later on today, it’s not too early to start considering options to replace him.
Benson’s left ankle was rolled badly in the second quarter of the win over Denver, and he told the Sun-Times following the game that he was to have it re-evaluated downtown this morning. Benson is expected to miss the remainder of the season. A knee sprain sidelined the former No. 4 overall pick for six games in 2005, and then the time he was on the shelf during training camp in 2006 with a shoulder injury cost him any chance of unseating Thomas Jones.
It will be interesting to see how the Bears proceed if and when the determination is made that Benson will be placed on injured reserve. By moving Adrian Peterson into the starting position, it takes a key performer from the special teams unit, an area Garrett Wolfe has been pitching in on more and more lately.
Do the Bears seek someone to primarily play on special teams, or do they go after a pure running back and see what he has to offer in the closing weeks? Linebacker Nick Roach, plucked off the San Diego practice squad last week, would seem ideal to fill into a special teams role. He was inactive Sunday. Linebacker Darrell McClover is also ready for action. McClover was inactive, too, for the seventh time in the last nine games. An obvious special teams player on the market is fullback Obafemi Ayanbadejo, who was released in October.
If special teams isn’t the top priority, where do the Bears turn for a back? The Broncos’ Andre Hall sure looks good right about now. He was with the Bears for a month in training camp last summer, but the team opted to go with P.J. Pope. A ruptured pectoral muscle suffered while bench pressing earlier this month landed Pope on the practice squad injured reserve, meaning he is ineligible for the remainder of the season, contrary to other reports. Jermaine Allen is on the practice squad with an exempt spot from NFL Europe, but is not considered a serious option.
Also available are Josh Allen, the Maryland product who was with the team during training camp, and Gerald Riggs Jr., who got a brief look in the summer. Corey Dillon’s agent Steve Feldman told the Sun-Times that his client is no longer interested in joining the Bears. Feldman hinted that Dillon would only be lured back to work by the unbeaten New England Patriots.
Veteran Kevan Barlow has had workouts with the Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers this season. Other backs that have been on the workout circuit include Ciatrick Fason and Shaud Williams. The Bears could take a look at former Louisville running back Lionel Gates, who is on the Bucs’ practice squad currently.
Stay tuned for developments as they become available.