Bears safety Chris Conte prepared for test against Cal pal DeSean Jackson
By Mark Potash email@example.com November 1, 2011 9:34PM
Updated: December 3, 2011 8:23AM
Safety Chris Conte was only a freshman at Cal when DeSean Jackson was a budding NFL-bound star as a junior in 2007. Now they’re both in the NFL.
Will Jackson be surprised to see Conte in an NFL uniform?
‘‘He’ll be surprised when I hit him,’’ Conte said with a laugh.
As fate would have it, Conte will face his former college teammate in his third NFL start when the Bears play the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday night at Lincoln Financial Field.
Jackson, a two-time Pro Bowl wide receiver, has 27 receptions for 487 yards (18 yards per catch) and two touchdowns. He’s a dangerous downfield threat in the mold of Devery Henderson, who burned the Bears for a 79-yard touchdown in Week 2.
‘‘I know DeSean pretty well,’’ Conte said. ‘‘We’ve worked out together. We have the same speed coach and trainer. It’ll be good to see him. I was a freshman playing corner when he was a junior, so he would get the best of me. And he’s still getting the best of most people. He’s a great wide receiver. It’ll be fun to have that challenge and go against him.
Eagles third-year running back LeSean McCoy leads the NFL with 107.7 rushing yards per game (135 carries, 754 yards, 5.6 per carry, eight touchdowns) and is just as hot as the Bears’ Matt Forte.
McCoy rushed for 185 yards and two touchdowns on 30 carries against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. The Cowboys came into that game leading the NFL in rushing defense (69.7 yards per game). McCoy had 76 in his first six carries in the first quarter.
‘‘Until I got here, he was the best running back I’ve ever played against,’’ said Bears rookie linebacker Dom DeCicco, who along with McCoy was part of Dave Wannstedt’s 2007 recruiting class at Pitt. ‘‘Him and Matt are both great backs. He’s big, and he sets up his moves better than anybody I’ve ever seen. He’s shifty. He’s just a football player.’’
Forte still leads all NFL running backs in yards from scrimmage with 1,091 (672 rushing, 419 receiving) with three touchdowns. McCoy, a second-round pick in 2009 (53rd overall), has 992 yards from scrimmage (754 rushing, 138 receiving) and has scored 10 touchdowns. He has a touchdown in seven consecutive games, one shy of the Eagles’ team record.
Bennett ‘ready to go’
Wide receiver Earl Bennett, who has missed the last five games since suffering a chest bruise against the New Orleans Saints in Week 2, expects to play against the Eagles.
‘‘I’m fine. I’m ready to go,’’ Bennett said. ‘‘Nothing can hold me back from Monday’s game, and I look forward to it.’’
Bennett has been practicing for the last three weeks. He was listed as probable against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Oct. 23 but was inactive.
‘‘The coaches just thought I wasn’t ready to go,’’ Bennett said. ‘‘That’s what it came down to. I just have to live with it and keep going. But I don’t think they’ll be able to hold me out this Monday.’’
The Bears re-signed former Notre Dame running back Armando Allen to their practice squad Tuesday. Allen started the season on the practice squad but was released Oct. 11.
Going the distance
With long runs from Forte (22 and 32 yards) and Marion Barber (29 yards), the Bears had touchdown drives of 81 and 79 yards against the Buccaneers. That gave them six touchdown drives of 79 yards or longer this season. In 2010, they had four all season.