LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears coach Marc Trestman announced Friday that receiver Earl Bennett, linebacker D.J. Williams and defensive tackle Henry Melton will play Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals, but declined to say how much.
Trestman said the team would meet later Friday to “make final decisions” on how to distribute repetitions among the trio, which all recently returned from injuries. The Bears completed the week leading into Sunday without a single player listed on the injury report.
“We’ll make some decisions on how much and who will start at the end of the day,” Trestman said. “So I’m not ready to make a commitment there to who will be the first linebacker, or the first wide receiver to go out on the field. But we’ll certainly know by the end of the day. I just want to talk to our coaches one more time about that.”
All indications are that Bennett will play sparingly as the third receiver, while Williams and Melton are expected to start. Bennett and Melton were recently cleared after suffering concussions, while Williams returned to the practice field on Monday after missing virtually the entire preseason due to a calf injury.
“I think Earl will play this game,” Trestman said. “I don’t know how much, but he’ll play and certainly continue to play more as he works himself into things. How much he plays will just be relative to how he feels out there and what his conditioning level is. He’s very confident he can go the distance. We’ll watch him closely and see.”
Because of William’s injury, the Bears played the entire preseason with rookie Jonathan Bostic at middle linebacker. But all week, Bostic and Williams have rotated with the starters, according to a source.
Similar to Bennett’s situation, there’s concern as to whether Williams can play an entire four quarters after missing so much of the preseason.
“I think he’s in good condition,” Trestman said. “I don’t know if he’s in great condition. I don’t know if we’ll know until we see whether he can take a significant amount of action. We’ll see how things go on Sunday. I believe he’ll play. How much will be relative to game-like conditions, where it’s physical out there, and we’re running sideline to sideline.”