Monday, July 28, 2008

Bears already falling in love with Bennett

This shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who watched him play over the past three years, but Earl Bennett is making huge strides early in training camp with the Chicago Bears, writes Larry Mayer of

The third-round pick has impressed Chicago with his speed, quickness and hands. Some highlights include a leaping catch with a defender all over him, a sliding catch on fourth down to keep a drive alive during a two-minute drill and a big 26-yard grab on a skinny post in another two-minute drill.

“He seems to make a couple big plays each day,” said Bears coach Lovie Smith. “But we expected that out of him. He’s a good football player. He made a lot of catches at Vanderbilt, and hopefully it’ll continue.”

The coaching staff could not say enough good things about Bennett, who seemed to spend the entire summer studying the playbook.

“He’s a great route runner,” said Greg Gabriel, the Bears’ director of college scouting. “He’s got excellent hands and he’s very good after the catch. On top of that, his character is impeccable.”

“He’s having a real good camp,” said offensive coordinator Ron Turner. “He’s made great strides in the little time he’s been here. He’s very intelligent, which helps. We’re moving him around more than I anticipated we could at this time, and mentally he’s handling it really well.”

“His play speed is a lot better than it was when he first got here, and I think a lot of it is he’s more comfortable,” Turner added. “He’s getting a feel for the system. When he first came in, he was thinking so much he couldn’t really run.”

Both Bennett and the coaching agree that he has improved tremendously from the team's mini-camp and OTAs in the off-season.

“I stayed in the playbook, stayed looking at my sheet and notes that I took, and just come out here and try to relate it to the field," Bennett said. "Just staying focused and working hard—mental preparation—that’s the key thing out here. When you add those it gives you the edge when you’re on the field.”

Bennett has also worked hard to come off the line of scrimmage with more explosiveness. Still, despite his success, Bennett isn't taking anything for granted.

“There are older guys here who have already proven themselves,” he said. “I just have to come out and prove myself all over again, like when I went to high school and when I went to college. Now I’m in the pros and I just have to continue to get better and improve on the little things.”

We don't doubt that he will.

Photo [ via AP]

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