Green Bay Packers running back Cedric Benson, who’s been on the NFL’s short-term injured reserve list since suffering a Lisfranc foot sprain at Indianapolis in Week 5, is eligible to begin practicing next week.
That, however, doesn’t seem likely, even though Benson and the team are encouraged by his progress.
“Ah, I don’t know, I think we’re still a little bit out from practicing, from putting on a cleat and pounding on it like that,” Benson said on Friday. “I think we’re still a couple of weeks away from that, but very close, very close. Kinda the way the doctor puts it to me all the time is regardless of anything, whether you could play tomorrow, you’ve still got three weeks where you can’t play.”
With the NFL’s new injured reserve designation, a player has to sit for six weeks before he can return to practice. If Benson returned to practice on Wednesday, he’d have to practice for two weeks before he could play. That would put him on the field for the rematch against Detroit on Dec. 9.
Regardless, the key number is the full eight weeks. In theory, the Packers could hold Benson out of practice until the week of the second Detroit game and he could play that Sunday. Perhaps a more likely scenario is he’d return for the following game, which is at Chicago on Dec. 16.
The injury, obviously, was a major blow. He had 71 carries for 248 yards, a 3.5-yard average and one touchdown. Before the injury, he was coming off a season-best performance of 18 carries for 84 yards against New Orleans, good for a 4.7 average. A question mark in the passing game upon his arrival, he had 14 receptions (in 15 targets) for an additional 97 yards, a 6.9 average.
“It’s tough, and considering where we were progressing to and where we were when things did happen and sidelined us for a while, it’s tough to deal with,” Benson said. “I was going up and down with, should we have surgery? Let’s wait and see what the foot tells us, what the X-rays — we take several X-rays as we go about this process — and I was struggling a little bit with that because, naturally, when every player gets hurt, he wants to come back as fast as he can.”
Benson’s been a regular in the meetings and consistently has given advice and pointers to Alex Green and James Starks, position coach Alex Van Pelt has said. By staying involved, Benson hopes he’ll be able to quickly regain his comfort in the offense.
“Naturally, to get (up to) game speed, you need a game or two just to get the feel and the flow and the rhythm,” Benson said. “That’s kind of what I ran into when I first got here with Week 1 and a couple preseason games. But I don’t want that to be a factor, and I’m going to try my best for it not to be. It’s almost one of those deals that is inevitable. You need a game or two, but I’m going to try my best to already be up to speed.”
Packers injury report
Out: WR Greg Jennings (abdomen); LB Clay Matthews (hamstring); Andrew Quarless (knee); CB Charles Woodson (collarbone). Questionable: LB Terrell Manning (shoulder); CB Sam Shields (ankle). Probable: WR Donald Driver (thumb); FB John Kuhn (hamstring); T.J. Lang (elbow/wrist); DE Mike Neal (ankle); WR Jordy Nelson (hamstring/foot); TE Ryan Taylor (chest); RB Johnny White (illness); TE D.J. Williams (hamstring); DE Jerel Worthy (concussion).
Green was held out of practice because of his surgically repaired knee but McCarthy said he “fully expects” his lead running back to play.
Lions injury report
-- McCarthy moved up the day’s schedule a half-hour. “Today we cut out 30 minutes of meeting time. I felt coming out of the meetings yesterday afternoon that we were ready. I cut the meeting time back 30 minutes and practice was the same as it normally is on Friday. With it being a noon start our time, 1 o’clock Eastern, I wanted to make sure they had an extra half an-hour. It’s amazing what 30 minutes does to the mind-set of your football team. It was a good team meeting this morning.”
-- McCarthy isn’t ready to give up on Derek Sherrod, last year’s first-round pick, who hasn’t played since breaking a leg at Kansas City 11 months ago. The Packers have until the Monday after next week’s game at the Giants game to add him to the 53-man roster or put him on injured reserve. He’s taken part in individual drills but no team work. If he can bounce back, he’d clearly be an asset for a team that’s short on linemen. “We’re taking baby steps. I think it’s obvious if you’ve had a chance to watch him work. But I will say this: Just watching him a couple weeks ago and watching him go through the individual, I think he’s made some strides. He has that last hurdle he has to get over. This is the kind of drill work that he needs, to be in pads and go through the individual stuff. That’s really the only opportunity that he’ll really have to really cross that threshold. We’ll see what happens.”
-- To clear his head and get some warmer weather to play a little golf and go swimming, struggling kicker Mason Crosby went to North Carolina with his family during the bye. “I looked at all of the good things that this team and that I’ve done and made sure to come back and build off of that. I try to always have a positive mind-set. It’s better to look at the good things and make sure that I work and build on those. I felt like I did that. I felt fresh when I came back on Monday. I’m hitting the ball well, and I just really have a clear mind, ready to kind of take on these next seven games.”
-- Since McCarthy took over as coach, the Packers are averaging 30.7 points indoors compared to 26.0 outdoors. Since becoming the starting quarterback in 2008, Aaron Rodgers boasts league-leading figures of 117.0 passer rating, 6.71-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio (47 touchdowns, seven interceptions) and 68.7 percent accuracy.
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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.