Cedric Benson’s fumble in the preseason finale was a stark reminder that no running back in the NFL fumbled more over the previous two seasons.
Are the Green Bay Packers worried about ball security with their No. 1 running back?
Well, they didn’t say they weren’t.
“Cedric’s just like everybody else. He goes through the ball security drills every day,” coach Mike McCarthy said on Thursday. “Frankly, since we’ve made the change in the ball security emphasis as far as how much we do it in practice along with our defensive change, we’ve been plus-58 in turnover ratio. That’s who we are, that’s the standard we adhere to. Everyone on offense and special teams is held to that level of accountability. He’s no different.”
Offensive coordinator Tom Clements essentially said the same thing. “We stress it every day, we do drills every day, so hopefully he and everyone else is aware of it.”
Benson’s issues are of paramount importance against the 49ers. They’ve recovered 37 fumbles over the last three seasons, including a league-leading 15 last season and a co-league-leading 15 in 2009.
“You have to train yourself to be tight going through the holes, be explosive in your cuts while still keeping the ball tight to your body,” Benson said. “You’ve just got to train yourself to control the football.
“We do a lot of drills that address ball security. There’s three or four drills that we do that are dedicated to ball security that I didn’t really do in the past.”
Packers injury report
Out: RB James Starks (toe). Did not participate: LB Jamari Lattimore (ankle). Limited: TE Tom Crabtree (shoulder); LB Robert Francois (hamstring); CB Davon House (shoulder); S Sean Richardson (hamstring). Full: NT B.J. Raji (ankle). Raji went from limited to full, Richardson from did not participate to limited and Lattimore took a step back.
49ers injury report
Did not participate: WR Ted Ginn (ankle); RB Brandon Jacobs (knee). This is unchanged from Wednesday.
— Relatively speaking, the Packers are a healthy team. That will make reducing the 53-man roster to the 46-man gameday roster a bit of a challenge. “Actually it’s easier when you have a couple players that may not go,” McCarthy said. “Yes, 53 to 46 is always difficult, because obviously everybody wants to play. You’d like to play them all. But that is part of the challenge. My outlook on having a healthy 53, it makes for better practice, and your practice week is very important in your preparation.”
— Clements said Benson is good to go with the smaller pieces of the playbook used each week in the game plan. “You don’t redo the installations. When he got here, we were in more of a game-plan mode, so to a large extent it’s probably easier for him that way because he just had to study a smaller part of it, where if he’d have come in early in camp, we throw a lot at them and they’ve already been through it a couple times. It’s probably easier for him with the limited number of plays.”
— If the Packers have settled on a starting secondary, they’ve gone to great lengths to hide it from reporters — who wouldn’t be allowed to report it, anyway. At safety, for instance, M.D. Jennings and Jerron McMillian have split time with Morgan Burnett.
— Clements wouldn’t rule out the 49ers using a spy to combat quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ running ability.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.