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Earl Bennett, Jay Cutler finally connecting on the field

Bears quarterback Jay Cutler talks with receiver Earl Bennett sidelines fourth quarter Chicago Bears 23-6 victory over St. Louis Rams

Bears quarterback Jay Cutler talks with receiver Earl Bennett on the sidelines in the fourth quarter of the Chicago Bears 23-6 victory over the St. Louis Rams Sunday September 23, 2012 at Soldier Field. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: December 3, 2012 6:52AM



Bears quarterback Jay Cutler always has plenty of good things to say about his longtime receiver, Earl Bennett. But it’s taken some time this season for those good things to show up on the field.

Bennett seems to be a steadying presence for Cutler when he’s in the lineup. In his second game back from a hand injury, Bennett caught three passes for 47 yards Sunday against the Carolina Panthers. Two of his receptions came in the final 44 seconds of the third quarter, helping Cutler find his rhythm for another productive fourth quarter.

“I’m not sure [if I help settle Cutler in],” Bennett said. “The biggest thing for me is do my assignment, get open, catch the ball and help the offense score points.”

Still, can Bennett be the Bears’ No. 2 receiver with Alshon Jeffery still out?

“Whatever Coach calls me to do, that’s what I’m going to do, and I’m going to do it to the best of my ability,” he said.

Perhaps, a return to Cutler’s and Bennett’s old stomping grounds of Nashville, Tenn., where they played together for Vanderbilt, will help really ignite them.

“Nashville, in general, is a great place,” Bennett said. “It’s just exciting to go back. I’ve got a lot of family going to the game.”

Like others, Bennett thinks the Bears’ offense is set to take off.

“The biggest thing for us is to just execute,” Bennett said. “We left a lot of plays out there on the field.”

Tillman’s turn

Bears cornerback Charles Tillman was named the NFC defensive player of the month for October after returning two interceptions for touchdowns and holding Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson in check.

But the veteran was quick to deflect attention.

“The star of our defense is our defense,” Tillman said.

Fellow cornerback Tim Jennings was the NFC defensive player of the month in September.

“He has his style, I have my style,” Tillman said. “I think it’s what makes our defense better than some.”

Injury report

Linebacker Lance Briggs (toe) was a new addition to the Bears injury report Thursday.

“That toe was hurting him a little bit, so he was limited today,” coach Lovie Smith said. “Hopefully of course, he’ll be able to go this weekend.”

Offensive tackle Jonathan Scott (groin) did not participate, while tight end Matt Spaeth (ankle) fully participated after being limited on Wednesday.



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