Receiver Earl Bennett has found his place in the Bears’ offense
BY ADAM L. JAHNS Staff Reporter December 20, 2013 8:16PM
Updated: January 22, 2014 6:09AM
The touchdown catches are nice, but Bears receiver Earl Bennett doesn’t want his arm-raising cele-
brations to be confused with self-satisfaction.
‘‘It doesn’t matter to me who scores, just as long we’re scoring points,’’ Bennett said.
It just happens to be him right now.
Bennett’s re-emergence in the Bears’ offense might be overdue for a player who has had as much success as he has during his career and has an often-mentioned connection with quarterback Jay Cutler. But his production definitely is a sign the Bears’ offense can reach new levels. It truly has evolved into a the-more-the-merrier attack.
‘‘This offense, we can be so good,’’ said Bennett, who was
excused from practice Friday for personal reasons but is expected to play Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles. ‘‘We just have to continue to work hard, continue to do the little things right. As you saw, the game against the Cowboys, we didn’t have a punt. Our last game [against the Browns], we faced a little adversity, but we were able to shake it off and come back and put up a lot of points to win the game. We just have to have to continue to do what we do, and that’s focus on us and do our jobs.’’
For Bennett, that’s being the
No. 3 receiver behind Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. With tight end Martellus Bennett and running back Matt Forte also
viable targets, there are only so many passes to go around.
But more have gone in Earl Bennett’s direction in the last few weeks. In the last four games, he has totaled 16 of his 30 catches, has more than half his 231 receiving yards and has scored two of his four touchdowns.
‘‘It’s just the quarterback going through his progressions, and my job is being in the place I’m supposed to be,’’ Bennett said.
Bennett’s 30 receptions are his most since 2010, and his four touchdown catches are a career high. He also has earned back some of the money that was converted into performance bonuses when his contract was restructured early this season.
As Bennett thought during training camp, coach Marc Trestman’s offense has become a joy to play in, especially because he’s not limited to being a slot receiver.
‘‘I’m still all over the place,’’ he said. ‘‘I’m lining up inside, outside . . . you’ll never know where I’ll be. That’s the luxury of this offense.’’
Bennett also pointed out blocking for Forte can be just as rewarding.
‘‘You can be productive more than just catching the ball in this offense,’’ he said.
Having a productive Bennett is a reward, too, Trestman said.
‘‘He’s always been part of the equation,’’ Trestman said. ‘‘He’s our third guy right now. I’m glad he has become a part of it a little bit more. When he had the concussion [in training camp], he kind of dropped off a little bit to where he wasn’t around for a while, and we kind of forgot about the kind of
receiver he was before.
‘‘It’s good to see him become a part of it. He’s a great leader on our football team. He sends great messages in the locker room with the . . . things he says and the way he does things. He’s great for our team. I know our guys love him, and it’s good to see he’s become a part of the equation for us.’’