LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Not even the Chicago Bears’ players themselves are entirely sure what to expect on Sunday when their revamped offense is unveiled for the first time in a regular season game.
“No expectations, really,” Bears tight end Martellus Bennett said. “We’re just going out there trying to fly around and play ball. I think we have a high ceiling. But there are a lot of places with high ceilings. Right now, we’re just an offense trying to figure out what we’re going to be. So this will be our first chance to go against somebody else when it really counts and really matters. I don’t think we have our identity yet. I think we’re going to figure out our identity during this journey. So we’ll figure out if we’re a run-first team, a pass-first team. We have no clue.”
One of the Bears’ most important offseason acquisitions, Bennett was kept under wraps in the preseason after signing a four-year, $20.4 million deal that contains $9.215 million in guarantees. Bennett caught just one pass for 16 yards in three preseason games as the majority of quarterback Jay Cutler's passes went in the directions of wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery.
It’s silly to overreact to anything, good or bad, in the preseason, but the Bears didn’t invest that kind of money at the tight end for Bennett to be a spectator when the games count -- especially not after the club had such poor results at the position last season from ex-starter Kellen Davis, who managed a mere 19 receptions for 229 yards.
How it unfolds for Bennett against a talented Cincinnati Bengals’ defense remains a question mark, but Cutler should have no trouble finding the starting tight end in the huddle or on the sideline.
“I’m always there to reassure Jay and make sure he’s calling the right play,” Bennett said. “So I’m like his backup guy. Like, ‘I don’t think that’s to the right.’ Or the ball’s on the left hash. We’ve got to flip the play. So I’m there.
"I’m like Jiminy Cricket in his ear, making sure the tight ends are always the quarterback’s best friend. So I stay in all of the quarterback meetings and the offensive line meetings. So I pretty much know what everyone is doing. So I try to help people out as much as possible. But sometimes there are so many calls, I tell a receiver, you got this, I got this. Like I say, I over communicate in the huddle. So I probably talk the most.”