LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Earl Bennett doesn’t see grasping the intricacies of Mike Martz’s offense as the most difficult challenge in his return to the field.
Instead, Bennett took a light-hearted view of the current situation.
“With the offense we run,” Bennett said, laughing, “I’ll probably be a little out of shape once I return.”
The question now is when?
Out of practice since pulling a hamstring Aug. 8, Bennett -- who led the team in 2009 with 15 receptions for 20 yards or more -- doesn't know when he’ll be healthy enough to return to action. Bears’ coach Lovie Smith said Bennett is “getting better”, but didn’t give a timetable for the receiver’s possible return.
Bennett, meanwhile, says he’s trying to resist the temptation of rushing back before he’s ready.
“Oh yeah, there’s a lot of temptation there, you know,” Bennett said. “There’s definitely a high level of frustration because I want to be out there playing and helping these guys out [and] just going through everything they’re going through. So it’s kind of tough just sitting back watching, taking mental reps. But I definitely hope we can get this thing rolling and I can get back on the field.”
Bennett said he’d like to play in at least one of the club’s remaining preseason games, and doesn’t see a problem with transferring the mental reps he’s taken on the sideline to the field. If there’s any ground he’s losing to the other receivers on the roster, Bennett said it’s strictly from a conditioning standpoint.
Bennett has been listed on the unofficial depth chart thus far at camp as a third-teamer.
The club limited Bennett’s work during the offseason after the receiver underwent arthroscopic knee surgery, and he’s missed most of training camp. Still, after starting 15 of 16 games last season, Bennett figures to stick on the final 53-man roster.
“There’s been a lot that’s been going [into the playbook], but I feel like I’m staying abreast on it; making sure that I go through my playbook each day and understanding what is expected of me,” Bennett said. “I really don’t have a timetable. I definitely hope that I can at least play one of these last two games, and see where I’m at and evaluate myself. I feel like the doctors and training staff are doing a good job of making sure I’m doing the right things and taking the right steps so that when I do come back, I won’t have a setback.”