Cedric Benson's story of redemption

Cedric Benson, once a failed first-rounder now in his third year with the Bengals, rushed for 1,251 yards in 2009. Michael Nemeth

This season, any talk about the Bengals has centered on the team's addition of talented and temperamental receiver Terrell Owens. How would he fit in? What would his presence mean for Chad Ochocinco, Cincinnati's other talented and temperamental receiver?

Amid the hubbub (the duo recently announced a new TV series called The T. Ocho Show), Bengals running back Cedric Benson has been left standing in the shadows. Which is exactly how he likes it. After all, he once generated headlines of his own. In 2005, as a rookie, he irked the Bears by staging a 36-day contract holdout. Three years later, he was released by Chicago after two alcohol-related arrests in as many months. And just this past June, he faced a misdemeanor assault charge (which is still pending) after allegedly punching a bar employee in the face.

But Benson, now in his third year with the Bengals, might be the team's most reliable member. In 2009, his 96.2 yards per game ranked second in the NFL, behind Chris Johnson's 125.4. And the day after Cincy's opening-week loss to New England this season, it was Benson who stood in an empty clubhouse and faced the media, patiently answering questions for 15 minutes. Later, he opened up to ESPN The Magazine about overcoming his own struggles, and in the process proved that he deserves the spotlight too.