Cedric Benson, freshly minted with a $7 million, two-year contract that will make him the starting running back for the Cincinnati Bengals, called himself ``fully rejuvenated'' Wednesday morning appearing on Waddle & Silvy on ESPN AM-1000.
Benson told hosts Tom Waddle and Marc Silverman that he is looking forward to facing the Bears in the regular season in 2009. He didn't have any regrets on his time with the Bears, which was cut short in June after his second drinking-related incident in Texas in a five-week span. Eventually, Benson was cleared of charges stemming from his boating and driving arrests but not before the Bears had pulled the plug on the fourth overall pick of the 2005 draft and not after the Bears had dropped $13.8 million on Benson.
He caught on with the Bengals early in the season and wound up rushing for 747 yards in 12 games. The numbers were not overwhelming--he averaged 3.5 yards per carry--but you have to remember that Cincinnati was without quarterback Carson Palmer for much of the season and Benson gained momentum toward the end, rushing for 171 yards at Cleveland in Week 16 and then 111 yards against Kansas City in the finale.
"Of course, I was unfairly treated,'' Benson said. "Justice was served. The court system held up. The truth came out. It just sucks there was not enough support in Chicago or belief in me in Chicago to hang around to see the truth come out.''
He said he may have made some very minor changes upon arriving in Cincinnati but nothing drastic.
"My work ethic didn't really change,'' Benson told ESPN-1000. ``Granted, my back was against the wall and I had a lot more pressure on myself both from the outside and within.''
One thing he found in the Queen City was a lot more support--all around--something he felt was missing with the Bears, almost from Day 1.
"Sometimes it seemed like I was going against the same guys I was going to war with every weekend,'' Benson said. "We're supposed to be a team. It seemed like I would be battling against my own team, some players, some staff, from a higher ranking.
"It just didn't work.''
But Benson said there were good time, the 2006 Super Bowl season, and he talked about the chance to play for the franchise that once had Walter Payton carrying the ball for it. Should be interesting to see him in action vs. the Bears.