Bears RB Benson upbeat at practice

LAKE FOREST, ILLINOIS (TICKER) Chicago Bears running back Cedric Benson on Wednesday worked out with his teammates for the first time since his arrest in Texas just over two weeks ago.

Benson was arrested on May 3 in Austin, Texas and charged with boating while intoxicated and resisting arrest.

However, the fourth-year running back disputed those charges two days after the arrest, claiming he was not drunk and did not resist - as was charged in the police report by officers from the Lower Colorado River Authority police during a random safety inspection.

Benson, who has a court date in Texas on June 30 - for which he does not have to be present - did not back off his denials Wednesday. The No. 4 overall pick in the 2005 draft insisted he was not intoxicated and said he was mistreated by the LCRA officers.

“It’ll be nice to get it cleared up and over with, but I don’t really spend too much time thinking about it at all,” Benson said. “I’m sticking to my story, and the truth will come out some time, whether it’ll be now or a year from now or whenever.”

Benson did take issue with previous statements made by Bears general manager Jerry Angelo, who called the incident “a lapse in judgment.”

Angelo conceded Benson may have been a victim in the incident but also expressed disappointment that the running back put himself in such a situation.

“He’d have to explain to me how I put myself in a situation to be a victim,” Benson responded Wednesday. “I was enjoying myself, enjoying my offseason.”

Benson has been a disappointment in his brief career, failing to reach 1,000 yards rushing in his first three seasons in Chicago.

In 2007, Benson’s season was cut short by a broken leg, an injury which sidelined him for the final five games.

Benson averaged a career low of 3.4 yards per carry last year, finishing the season with 674 yards and four touchdowns on 196 carries.

However, the former Texas running back said he shed 10 pounds over the offseason and expects it to pay dividends.

“I feel faster, quicker, smarter, smoother and healthier,” Benson said. “I feel great. I feel everything. Everything on a positive note, that’s how I feel.”

According to the arrest report by the LCRA, Benson was operating a 30-foot boat with about 12-15 passengers aboard on Lake Travis when an officer made contact with him shortly after 9 p.m.

Police say Benson failed a “float test” - an abbreviated version of a field sobriety test - and became combative with officers, who then arrested him and pepper-sprayed the fourth-year running back.

Benson’s version was completely different.

“I politely asked him why we needed to go to land to take more tests when I took every test,” Benson said. “Then he sprayed me with mace, on his boat.

“I’m not handcuffed. I’m not under arrest. I’m not threatening him. I’m not pushing him. I’m not touching him. And he sprays me right in the eye.”

The charges are punishable by up to six months in jail and $2,000 each.

While at Texas, Benson was arrested twice - on a misdemeanor trespassing charge in 2003 for entering an apartment to retrieve a television that he reported stolen, and on misdemeanor drug and alcohol charges in 2002 that eventually were dropped.


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Updated Wednesday, May 21, 2008