Bears’ Earl Bennett: Cutler looks ‘awesome,’ offense on schedule
BY JUSTIN ALBERS firstname.lastname@example.org June 21, 2011 11:27AM
Bears wide receiver Earl Bennett said Jay Cutler looks "awesome" in the team's informal offseason workouts after suffering a knee injury during last season's NFC Championship game. | Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 21, 2011 4:57PM
Bears wide receiver Earl Bennett is preparing like it’s a normal NFL offseason.
He and the team’s other offensive skill position players have been getting together “four or five times a week” to work on plays and to stay in shape. Bennett said all of the skill players have been at the training sessions.
Even though the Bears have been forced to miss normal organized team activities due to the lockout, Bennett doesn’t feel like the offense is behind schedule.
“I feel like right now we’re going through OTAs because we’re going through plays, we’re going through different defensive structures,” Bennett said this weekend during an appearance at a Nike kickoff event for October’s Chicago Marathon. “We just don’t have a defense over there against us. We’re getting a lot of good work going on right now.”
Bennett, a third-round pick out of Vanderbilt in 2008, is entering the final year of his rookie contract. He had 46 receptions for 561 yards and three touchdowns last season, but offensive coordinator Mike Martz recently told the team’s website that Bennett needs to be more involved in the offense.
“We didn’t throw it to him enough,” Martz told the site. “That will be remedied. He will figure in a much larger role than he did last year. He came to us late. He was injured. I wasn’t really sure where he was with all the stuff. But he established himself as a guy who needs to get a lot more balls than he did.
“He’s extremely reliable. I know Jay [Cutler] feels comfortable with him in the slot doing some of those things. But he should be able to play outside for us as well.”
Bennett said he appreciates Martz’s support, but he’s focused more on helping the team win than improving his personal numbers.
“If I get the opportunity, I just have to take advantage of it,” he said. “I’m a team player. Any way I can help the team out, I’m willing to do it. I’m just look forward to having a great year as a team. We gotta get to that Super Bowl and win it.”
As far as Jay Cutler is concerned, Bennett said his quarterback looks “awesome” coming off the sprained MCL he suffered in January’s NFC title game.
“He’s been out there throwing the ball well, moving around good. He’s ready to go,” Bennett said.
“We know the type of player Jay is. We just look forward to this year because we know he going to have a great year.”
Because the Bears are entering their second season in Martz’s offense, Bennett doesn’t think the lockout has hurt them as much as some other teams.
“We love the system,” he said. “It never gets old, there’s always new things going in.”
But couldn’t the offense use another weapon, such as receiver Plaxico Burress?
“I haven’t really thought about it,” Bennett said. “We got a great group of guys that did a great job last year and we just look to build on it this year.”