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Benson to have season-ending surgery on leg injury

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears running back Cedric Benson will miss the remainder of the season with an injury to his lower left leg that will require surgery.

"A tough break," Bears coach Lovie Smith said Monday. "We'll miss him."

Smith would not disclose what Benson's injury was, only to say it was season-ending and needed surgery.

Benson, who took over this season as the Bears' starting tailback after the trade of Thomas Jones to the New York Jets, broke free for a 21-yard run in Sunday's game against the Denver Broncos. But he was injured as he landed while being tackled by Denver safety Hamza Abdullah and later had to be carted off the field following the second-quarter play.

Chicago, buoyed by two kick return touchdowns from Devin Hester, rallied to win the game 37-34 in overtime.

The Bears' first-round pick in 2005 out of Texas, Benson has been slowed by injuries during his first three seasons.

A lengthy contract negotiation caused Benson to miss his first training camp two years ago, and a knee injury suffered against San Francisco knocked him out of six games that season.

In 2006, Benson sprained his shoulder during training camp and missed the preseason. And then he was knocked out of the Super Bowl in the first quarter after spraining his left knee.

Veteran Adrian Peterson will move in as the starter, with Garrett Wolfe as the backup.

Benson rushed for 674 yards this season on 196 carries, an average of 3.4 yards per carry. He had four touchdowns.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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