Bengals RB Benson set to meet with Goodell on Thursday

Cincinnati Bengals running back Cedric Benson is scheduled to meet with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Thursday, NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora reported, citing a source with knowledge of the situation.

Benson has faced criminal charges three times and recently was arrested on an assault charge in Austin, Texas.

The league wouldn't comment on Benson's meeting with Goodell, per its policy on such matters, but Bengals coach Marvin Lewis told *The Cincinnati Enquirer* on Tuesday that he doesn't believe his running back will be suspended under the NFL's personal-conduct policy.

"I don't know why we're even talking about Cedric being suspended a game," Lewis said. "... To me, it's unbelievable. It wouldn't be brought up in 31 other cities in the country I think.

"The truth about (the case) is that Cedric got sucker-punched in a bar," Lewis added. "That's the thing. And only because it was Cedric Benson does it become news."

The Bengals are still waiting for the league's final decision on the matter. Benson was arrested twice in a one-month span in 2008 on alcohol charges that were later dropped.

Lewis said people tend to "challenge" players in public settings, but he noted that they "constantly have to be able to walk away." He also alluded to Maurice Purify's disorderly conduct arrest two months ago and said someone swung at the wide receiver first in that case.

"And when two guys didn't walk away totally, this is what happens," Lewis said. "They're not necessarily in the wrong, but they are a little bit wrong in my standards for not walking away totally. They were not the initiator in any of these cases."

Benson was arrested June 29 and charged with misdemeanor assault for allegedly punching a bar employee in the face one month earlier.

According to the police arrest affidavit, Benson was at Annie's West bar in Austin's Sixth Street entertainment district May 30 when he and another patron got into an altercation that left the running back spitting blood from a cut lip. After staff intervened, witnesses told police that Benson shoved a bar worker and was verbally abusive. After being asked to leave, Benson was escorted to the door.

"As they took him outside, he continued to push and shove," senior police officer Veneza Aguinaga said shortly after the arrest.

Bartender Bryan White told police that once outside, Benson complained to people passing by that "all these white boys are ganging up on me and kicking me out." White said he told Benson that he wouldn't take time out of his night just to kick him out, then the running back punched him in the face.

All the off-the-field drama hasn't changed Lewis' feelings about his team. The coach is entering the final year of a contract extension that he signed following the 2005 season, and he told The Enquirer that he hopes to reach a new agreement with Bengals owner Mike Brown.

"We have spoken about the contract a few times ... but we don't talk about it daily," Lewis said. "That's not me to worry about it or bring it up. I don't go about it that way.

"I would love to continue to coach here. I think every year is a new challenge, a new start and, hell, we've got Ocho (Chad Ochocinco)."

Entering his eighth season in Cincinnati, Lewis is tied with Paul Brown and Sam Wyche for longest coaching tenure with the team.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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