Packers sign RB Cedric Benson; is James Starks in trouble?

Presumably, Amani Toomer doesn't believe Tebow is a better quarterback than Manning. (US Presswire)

We told you two days ago that the Packers were expected to sign a contract with former Bengals running back Cedric Benson to bring some experience and some talent (three-straight 1,000-yard seasons) to a backfield that certainly could use some.

On Sunday, the Packers announced a that deal has been completed and signed (ESPN reports that it’s a one-year contract and that he'll make the veteran's minimum of $825,000).

The signing raises a couple significant question marks:

1) What does Benson have left? He’s combined for 3,429 yards and 19 touchdowns the past three seasons in Cincinnati, but he’s also averaged 298.3 carries per season. That’s a hefty load for a running back who’s in his late 20s (Benson is 29 years old). Benson is consistent, but he’s also averaged more than 4 yards per carry only once in the past five seasons.

He’s never been a burner, and he’s never broken long plays. As he nears 30, that’s not likely to change.

2) Will Benson have a chance to make an impact on this team? He very well could. Starting running back James Starks hasn’t performed well in training camp, and he dropped a pass in the team’s first preseason game (he also misplayed a hand-off). And for a third-year player, he doesn’t seem to have shown much improvement.

“The Packers were looking for big things from James Starks in his third season,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wrote earlier this month. “So far, they haven't seen it. Even though he has taken probably three times as many snaps as Alex Green, it has been Green who has been the more dynamic performer. … Starks hasn't made strides as a pass blocker or ball carrier. He just doesn't carry himself like a reliable, top-flight player.”

Benson probably isn’t a top-flight player either. But then again, he’d probably beat out backup Alex Green for a starting spot. At this point, Starks isn’t even assured of doing that.

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