|Packers RB Cedric Benson will be out eight weeks with a Lisfranc injury. If surgery proves necessary, he could miss the rest of the season, dealing a blow to the Packers offense. (US Presswire)|
Packers RB Cedric Benson is expected to be out eight weeks with a Lisfranc injury. If the injury requires surgery, Benson could miss the rest of the season.
Benson, who was injured after making a catch in the second quarter of the Packers' 30-27 loss to the Colts on Sunday, was wearing a walking boot on Monday.
Lisfranc injuries occur when bones in the midfoot are broken or supporting ligaments are torn. Since there are so many small bones and ligaments in the midfoot, the injury can range from relatively simple to serious, sometimes taking several months to heal.
If Benson has to miss an extended period of time, it would be a major blow to Green Bay. The veteran back lent credibility to the run game, providing some balance for a pass-heavy offense that has struggled to replicate last season's success. Benson had rushed 71 times for 248 yards (3.49 average) and a touchdown in five games.
Before Sunday, Benson had received 20, 17 and 18 carries the previous three games, emerging as a “workhorse” back, as offensive coordinator Tom Clements said. Benson kept opposing defenses from simply sitting back and taking away the Packers' deep passing game.
Coach Mike McCarthy said the Packers wanted to establish the run against the Colts. Before Benson went down in the second quarter, Green Bay called nine pass plays and eight runs, a nearly even split. After he got hurt, the Packers passed on 30 of their final 44 plays.
"We went into the game thinking, try to have some balance, try to run it early, make sure that we were fine with the noise,” McCarthy said. “It's a different environment. We've played the preseason game [in Indianapolis], but frankly a lot of our decisions are made on how they play us, too.
"I thought they gave us some opportunities to go outside, and they're a football team that had a number of injuries (at cornerback). Like always, you look at matchups and you try to take advantage of those."
Benson was coming off three consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons in Cincinnati when he signed with Green Bay off the street midway through training camp. In those three previous seasons with the Bengals, he'd only missed four games.
On Monday, before the news broke, McCarthy didn't have much information on the injury but did rule Benson out of this week's game at Houston.
An interesting wrinkle to consider is the one-year, veterans minimum deal Benson signed in August. It's a split contract, typically reserved for rookies and unproven or injury-prone players. The agreement calls for Benson to make $825,000 this season (though only $540,000 counts against the salary cap because of the minimum salary benefit).
But the split cuts the contract to $393,000 if Benson goes on injured reserve. For the cost-conscious Packers, that could influence the decision on what to do with an aging veteran signed to a one-year deal.
Though it's never a good time to lose an integral member of the offense, there is a silver lining to the timing of Benson's injury. James Starks, who entered training camp as the presumptive starter, seems to be healed and recovered from his turf toe problems. It was Starks' injury in the preseason opener that prompted the Packers to sign Benson. Starks missed a month and a half, but returned to practice in full last week. Though he was inactive as a precaution for the Colts game, Starks should be ready to go this Sunday against the Texans.
Also very much in the mix is second-year RB Alex Green, the talented third-round pick from a year ago who missed most of last season with a torn ACL that also slowed him through training camp. He got the most extensive playing time of his career on Sunday and showed some potential. He rushed nine times for 55 yards, though 41 of those came on one long, impressive burst. His other eight carries were unremarkable.
McCarthy was generally pleased with Green's play but said there was room for improvement.
"Alex did some good things, and there's some things he'll definitely learn from,” McCarthy said. “He obviously had the big run, did a great job there and a nice job on the trap play. But there's some protection opportunities that we need to clean up and the course of certain runs, so, a young guy that took advantage of an opportunity and this will be an opportunity for him and James and Brandon [Saine] to play this week against Houston."
Saine, who was signed as an undrafted free agent last year, has not had a carry this season. He's been active for every game because he's a key player on special teams.
Follow Packers reporter James Carlton on Twitter @CBSPackers and @jimmycarlton88.