General manager Phil Emery stressed that a Bears objective this offseason was to surround quarterback Jay Cutler with more high-impact weaponry. Unfortunately the Chicago offense has been without its No. 3 receiver since before the start of the preseason, as Earl Bennett tries to return from a concussion suffered a month ago.
And Bennett at this point is not a lock to be active for the Cincinnati game, potentially placing an enormous burden on a group of backup wide receivers with a total of two NFL catches last season, both by Eric Weems.
Bennett said that his layoff since the Aug. 2 concussion has not precluded some essential conditioning work.
“Actually, I’m pretty good conditioning-wise,” Bennett said. “I’ve been up here running — shoulder pads, helmets — the past few days, just making sure that I’m in great shape.”
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But NFL-game-shape is an entirely different matter. Bennett last played in an NFL game of any kind last December and he sustained a concussion in that game as well.
The offense and quarterback Jay Cutler desperately need their third receiver but “it may not be plausible for him to play,” coach Marc Trestman said. “We’ll see how he looks during the course of the week. He ran well today. He was involved in reps. Obviously he hasn’t had the practice time or the conditioning level right now….
“I don’t want to say ‘unlikely’ [to play] because I don’t know how the week’s going to go. But it’s plausible that he could be out on Sunday. It’s possible that he could be up. We’ll just see how the rest of the week goes. We’ve got another day off. He’s got three days of work ahead. We’ll see how all that fits together come Sunday.”
Without Bennett, the depth chart beyond starters Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall consists of Weems, Joe Anderson, who played only on special teams late last season, and rookie Marquess Wilson.