BOURBONNAIS, Ill.--The Bears will get to see two members of their lost draft class from 2005 this season, starting with Kyle Orton in 26 days when they travel to Denver for the Cutler Bowl in the third preseason game. With NBC's ``Sunday Night Football'' crew handling the game, it's sure to get plenty of hype in the coming weeks.
Orton was the lone remaining member of the 2005 class until he was traded with a bounty of draft picks for Cutler on April 2. Five of the six players from that draft remain in the league, but the Bears are scheduled to see only one of them, and that person probably has the date circled on the calendar. Running back Cedric Benson will face his former team in Week 7 when the Bears head to Cincinnati. Benson is locked in as the Bengals' starting running back after signing a $7 million, two-year contract in the offseason. Cincinnati signed him off the discard pile in Week 5 last year after injuries ravaged its backfield, and the former No. 4 overall pick was thrown into the mix immediately.
He finished with career highs in carries (214) and yards (747) in two-thirds of the season and without the benefit of much of a passing game as Carson Palmer was injured. Benson cemented his future in the Queen City by rushing for 355 yards on 84 attempts in the final three games. Granted, two of those contests were against the 28th-ranked run defense (Cleveland) and the 30th-ranked run defense (Kansas City).
"I'm sure they know they made a mistake [releasing me]," Benson told me on Monday for the National Football Post, "after the way I finished last season. But I'm not worried about them. It's in the past and I've moved on. I had a career-high in touches and yards in a little more than half a season, more than I ever had in Chicago. That tells you the story right there."
There remains no love lost between Benson and ex-Bear Thomas Jones. The pair combined for 1,857 rushing yards during 2006 en route to the Super Bowl, the same season that Jones once slugged Benson in practice. It was Jones who got into an on-field tussle Monday in Jets' camp.
"Typical," Benson said. "That's the kind of guy he is. I don't pay attention to what is going on in his world."
Benson vows he's moved on, though, and certainly he's escaped the expectations that were held for him here. He turned into a colossal failure for general manager Jerry Angelo as Benson made off with nearly $13.8 million for his three seasons.
"I think the only person that wanted me there was Lovie [Smith],'' Benson said. "The Bengals sure hit the jackpot.''
*** The Bears will get going at 3 p.m. today. We'll monitor the situation at left guard where Josh Beekman has been getting all of the first team reps, and take a look for some other developments.