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Former NFL running back Benson dies at 36

AUSTIN, Texas — Former NFL running back Cedric Benson, one of the most prolific rushers in NCAA and University of Texas history, has died in a motorcycle accident in Texas. He was 36.

Benson’s attorney, Sam Bassett, said Austin law enforcement told him that Benson was killed in the wreck Saturday night. He had no details about the accident.

Benson was a key player in the Longhorns’ resurgence under coach Mack Brown, who said Sunday that Benson’s death has left him grief-stricken.

“He was as good as you’ll ever see as a football player and as tough as they come,” said Brown, who recently returned to coach North Carolina following a long run at Texas. “But what I’ll remember most is what a special, special person he was. We always enjoyed talking with him because he was such a bright and unique guy. There will never be another one like him, and he will be dearly missed by so many. It’s just heartbreaking, but we feel very fortunate to have had him in our lives.”

Benson was one of the top high school recruits out of the West Texas town of Midland. According to Texas Football magazine, he is eighth on the career rushing list for Texas high schools. He led Midland Lee to three straight state championships, the only three in school history, from 1998-2000.

Benson played at Texas from 2001-2004 and his 5,540 yards ranks second at the university and ninth in NCAA history. He scored 64 career touchdowns with the Longhorns and won the Doak Walker award, given to the nation’s top running back, in 2004.

He was the only player in school history to rush for at least 1,000 yards in four seasons and was inducted into the university’s Hall of Honor in 2014.

Benson was drafted No. 4 overall by the Bears in 2005 and helped Chicago reach the playoffs the following season. He had his finest years with Cincinnati from 2008-11, taking over as the featured back on a team that made the playoffs twice but lost in the first round each time.

“Cedric was a fine football player for us,” Bengals President Mike Brown said. “He played a principal role for several years here, including a couple of playoff runs.”

Benson ran for a career-high 1,251 yards while leading a playoff push in 2009, the first of three straight 1,000-yard seasons. He also led the Bengals to the playoffs in 2011, when Andy Dalton and A.J. Green arrived as rookies.

“Once he bought into our system, he was like a flower. He just blossomed,” former Bengals running backs coach Jim Anderson said. “He gave us an element we didn’t have. We had complementary guys, but Cedric gave us a missing element. He was a good man. He was one of my guys and it hurts. Life is too short.”

James to have surgery

CARSON, Calif. — Los Angeles Chargers All-Pro safety Derwin James will have surgery on his right foot this week and could miss three months

Coach Anthony Lynn said Sunday after Los Angeles’ 19-17 exhibition loss to New Orleans on Sunday that James has opted for surgery after receiving more evaluations the past couple days. He suffered a stress fracture of the fifth metatarsal of his right foot during Thursday’s practice against the Saints.

James would likely be placed on injured reserve with a designation to return, meaning he could not be activated until after Week 8. If he is out the full three months, he would likely not be back until the final five games of the season.

This will be the second straight year the Chargers will go into the season without one of their top players on defense. Defensive end Joey Bosa missed the first nine games last season due to turf toe.

Tate III in protocol

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — New York Giants wide receiver Golden Tate III has been placed in concussion protocol.

Tate sustained the concussion Friday night in the Giants’ 32-13 preseason victory over the Chicago Bears. It was not known Sunday how long the 10-year veteran will be kept out of practice.

It was not a great week for the 30-year-old Tate, who learned earlier in the week that his appeal of a four-game suspension to start the season was upheld by the NFL office. Tate insisted that his failed drug test was due to him taking the fertility drug clomiphene.

Tate was prescribed the drug by a physician, whom Tate now plans on suing. The doctor apparently told Tate that he prescribed clomiphene to four other NFL players who were not suspended.

Tate is permitted to practice and play preseason games with the Giants, but cannot participate once the season begins. He signed a four-year, $37 million contract with the Giants in the offseason. Tate will lose more than a million in salary while suspended and his nearly $8 million signing bonus, due next year, is now voided due to the suspension.

Bears pick Pineiro

LAKE FOREST, Ill. — The Chicago Bears’ kicking competition is over for now, with Eddy Pineiro the winner.

The Bears announced Sunday that Elliott Fry has been released after an offseason and preseason competition with Pineiro and several other kickers.

The Bears have been looking for a kicker since cutting Cody Parkey following his double-doink field goal miss of 43 yards in their 16-15 playoff loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Pineiro, who kicked in college at Florida, cost the Bears a conditional 2021 seventh-round draft choice in a trade with the Oakland Raiders during the offseason. He was on injured reserve last season in Oakland.

Fry had been signed after the Alliance of American Football folded. He kicked for Orlando and in college had kicked at South Carolina.

The Bears still have two preseason games remaining and coach Matt Nagy said it’s still possible they’d sign another kicker if one of interest is released by another team.

Fountain on IR

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts will put receiver Daurice Fountain on season-ending injured reserve with a dislocated and fractured left ankle.

Coach Frank Reich confirmed the diagnosis Sunday and said the Colts will give him all the support he needs.

The second-year receiver was injured on a running play during Thursday’s joint practice with the Cleveland Browns. He could be heard screaming in pain above the near capacity at the Colts training camp facility before he was put on a stretcher, driven off the field on a golf cart and taken to a nearby hospital.

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