Cedric Benson serving jail sentence

Updated: September 1, 2011, 8:31 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

AUSTIN, Texas -- Cincinnati Bengals running back Cedric Benson has begun serving a 20-day jail term in Texas to settle two misdemeanor assault cases.

The former Texas star was sentenced Monday in Austin and had planned to surrender Oct. 17, during Cincinnati's bye week. Travis County Jail records show Benson was booked late Tuesday.

Benson's lawyer said the running back decided it would be best to serve his sentence before the NFL season begins.

"Mr. Benson is thankful for his supporters in Austin and Cincinnati," his attorney, Sam Bassett, said in a statement released to the media. "He is also grateful to the Bengals organization. Cedric looks forward to working hard on and off the field as soon as he is released."

Benson's jail time could be shortened with possible credit for time served after he was arrested.

The 28-year-old Benson was arrested in 2010 for allegedly punching a bar employee in Austin, an incident that earned him a meeting with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell but resulted in no punishment. He pleaded no contest to a charge of assault with injury in that case.

Benson

He also was arrested last month for allegedly punching a former roommate in downtown Austin. He pleaded no contest to a charge of assault with bodily injury with family violence, and that will be dismissed if he performs 30 hours of community service and pays an undisclosed amount of restitution to the victim.

Benson was Chicago's first-round pick in 2005. He had two alcohol-related arrests with the Bears, who let him go in 2008.

He signed as a free agent with the Bengals and has led them in rushing each of the past three years -- 747 yards in 2008, 1,251 yards in 2009 and 1,111 yards in 2010.

He was disappointed last season when the Bengals went away from their run-based offense that won them the AFC North title in 2009, then finished 4-12. After the Bengals changed offensive coordinators, Benson lobbied to stay in Cincinnati and signed a one-year deal. He provides a run-first option in coordinator Jay Gruden's new offense, which is being led by rookie quarterback Andy Dalton.

Benson also must pay a $4,000 fine within 30 days.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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