The opening pre-season game, otherwise a success for the Packers, was tarnished by the loss of Edgar Bennett for the entire 1997 season with an Achilles tendon injury.
Some have suggested that this may mark Edgar's last game with the Packers, since there is some sentiment that the Packers will not be able to (or maybe even want to) keep both Edgar and Dorsey Levens next year. I hope that doesn't prove to be true, but this seems as good a time as any to reminisce about the good times with Edgar Bennett.
Although I live in California, it so happens I was at the first pre-season game in the year Edgar was drafted, which I believe was 1992. I was mostly interested in seeing who this kid was for whom the Packers had traded a first round pick, somebody named Favre. (His first pass was a drop-back-and-heave-it-as-far-as-you-can job, which was intercepted.) So the early returns on Favre were a bit mixed.
But the kid who really impressed me was Edgar Bennett. It seemed like every time he got the ball, he was just like a bull - very difficult to bring down. He was heavier then, and I think they were listing him as a fullback. But he certainly had promise.
Fast forward to the playoff years. Four more impressions of Edgar. First, he almost NEVER fumbled the ball. We all know how important that is to Holmgren, and to us. If you remember Brent Fullwood, fumbling at the opponent's 1 yard line on what would have been a go-ahead score, you know why this is important. In fact, when Edgar fumbled in the slop in the mud-bowl against San Francisco, wasn't that his first fumble in over a year?
And speaking of the mud-bowl, impression number 2 is that there is no finer "mudder" in the league now than Edgar Bennett. Given the new "Sport Grass" and its improved drainage, this may not be as big an issue anymore, but it always seemed that the messier the field was, the better Edgar was. How he was able to keep his balance in the slop, on the way into the end zone, is just beyond me.
Impression number 3 is the screen pass. This is an important weapon in the Holmgren offense, and Edgar ran it to perfection. It seemed as if, half the time the Packers found themselves at about the 15-20 yard line, they would run this play, and it seemed as if it most often went for a touchdown. He will be missed on this play, but fortunately Dorsey Levens runs this play pretty well himself.
Finally, Edgar was a very skilled receiver. I remember one pass in particular, a sideline pass to the left side, where Edgar laid himself out parallel to the ground and caught the ball.
In short, Edgar may be no Barry Sanders, no Emmitt Smith, no Thurman Thomas. But he brought stability to the running back position for the first time in a number of years, and I always liked him. 1997 was to be another "running back by committee" year for Edgar and Dorsey, but sadly that will not happen now. I hope that the Packers figure out a way to bring Edgar back in 1998, but if they don't, it has been a nice ride with Edgar these past few years.