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Earl Bennett says he expects to play against Lions

Earl Bennett had six catches for 82 yards before missing last two games with hinjury. | Sun-Times Media

Earl Bennett had six catches for 82 yards before missing the last two games with a hand injury. | Sun-Times Media

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Updated: November 16, 2012 6:16AM

If the Bears had been in the playoffs, wide receiver Earl Bennett said he would have played with the injured left hand that kept him out of victories against the Dallas Cowboys and Jacksonville Jaguars the last two weeks.

‘‘Yeah, no doubt,’’ Bennett said during a recent promotional event. ‘‘They would have to take me to jail or something.’’

Bennett said his hand is ‘‘doing a lot better’’ and expects to play next Monday against the Detroit Lions.

‘‘I feel good,’’ he said. ‘‘I might bring out the orange shoes. You never know.’’

Bennett’s return would come at a good time for the Bears, who will be without rookie receiver Alshon Jeffery (fractured right hand) for four to six weeks. While he’s not the same type of receiver as the larger Jeffery, Bennett brings experience as another target quarterback Jay Cutler trusts and has connected with often. And if the Bears use a no-huddle offense more often, as they’ve said they will, having a slot receiver such as Bennett will help.

‘‘With Alshon down, you’re never going to know what’s going to happen in this league,’’ Bennett said. ‘‘But I’m just looking forward, if my number is called, to making the best of the opportunity and taking advantage.’’

General manager Phil Emery, coach Lovie Smith and offensive coordinator Mike Tice all think Bennett’s return will make up for the loss Jeffery. Bennett had six catches for 82 yards before being hurt. Dane Sanzenbacher played in his place, making one catch.

‘‘We feel very good about our wide-receiver depth,’’ Emery said.

Bennett, meanwhile, sounds ready to prove himself all over again. Injuries — to him and to Cutler — have cut into his production since he caught 54 passes for 717 yards and two touchdowns in 2009.

‘‘It’s tough because it’s like last year, where I got hurt in the
second game [with a chest injury],’’ Bennett said. ‘‘It’s like, ‘Not again.’ You work so hard in the offseason . . . and then once the season starts, you end up getting hurt and you have to miss time. It’s just tough because you’re putting in all that work. But you still have to understand that you have to let certain things heal, and this type of injury I just had to let heal.

‘‘It’s definitely frustrating sitting [out] because you want to be out there helping the guys out. I’m very competitive. To see them out there having fun, you want to join the party, but your mom is like, ‘You’re too young to go.’ You just have to wait for your time to come.

‘‘Unfortunately for me, I had to miss two games with my hand. But I’m just looking forward to finishing out strong.”

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