If Carson Palmer retires or traded, as he has requested, the Cincinnati Bengals are going to go into this season with a quarterback group that has thrown just 15 total NFL passes.
Fourth-year pro Jordan Palmer, Carson’s little brother, is 10-for-15 for 59 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. Second-year player Dan LeFevour did not throw a pass as a rookie last season, while Andy Dalton was just selected in the second round during the NFL Draft this year.
That means the Bengals must rely on a veteran defense, solid special teams play and their running game to be successful. Ah, the Bengals’ running game. Seventh-year veteran Cedric Benson has led the Bengals in rushing the past two seasons, but he’s an unrestricted free agent and his status is unknown.
Benson ran 321 times for 1,111 yards and seven touchdowns with 28 catches for another 178 yards and one score this past season. He had 301 carries for 1,2151 yards and six touchdowns with 17 catches for 11 yards and no TDs in 2009. Those were by far his most productive NFL seasons.
Cincinnati’s new offensive coordinator, Jay Gruden, has had to rely on the running backs to move the ball in the past like he did with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Not only did they lug the ball on the ground, but those backs also had to be pass-catchers coming out of the backfield.
Benson hasn’t set any records in receptions throughout his career, although his catch total last season was a career-high, so he has responded called upon.
Whether or not the Bengals respond in kind is another matter.