Wide receiver Earl Bennett is expected back for Monday night’s game against the Detroit Lions after missing the past two games with a hand injury.
“My hand feels good,” Bennett said after Monday’s abbreviated practice. “I got a chance to run around and catch the ball. No pain at all. I feel real confident, getting ready, staying mentally focused and just getting ready to execute on Monday night.”
Bennett has 6 catches for 82 yards, and his return comes at a crucial time with rookie Alshon Jeffery (14 catches, 184 yards, 2 touchdowns) expected to miss at least the next two games with a hand injury.
“Earl has helped us win a lot of games around here,” said Bears coach Lovie Smith. “It was hard for him to be out. When you have a good player like Alshon that goes down, and you can replace him with a guy like Earl, it says a little bit about how strong our 53-man roster is.”
Bennett said it was difficult to not be involved the previous two games when Jay Cutler threw for 567 yards and 4 touchdowns and the winning streak reached three games.
“Those guys are out there making plays and having fun,” Bennett said. “We’re winning, and it’s tough to sit back and just watch and not be a part of the fun.”
Keeping it tight:
Tight end Brody Eldridge was signed Monday to a one-year contract, and running back Kahlil Bell was waived.
The 6-foot-5, 265-pound Eldridge started 16 of 27 games with the Colts the previous two seasons.
He caught 14 passes for 84 yards and had been used mostly as a blocker after being drafted by Indianapolis in the fifth round (162nd overall) in 2010 out of Oklahoma.
He was released by the Colts in May and signed with the St. Louis Rams, where he was also released after testing positive for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs and receiving a four-game suspension.
Eldridge gives the Bears four tight ends on the 53-man roster, not including rookie Evan Rodriguez, who was moved from tight end to fullback.
Bell, who rushed for 32 yards on 12 carries in two games this season, also spent the previous three seasons with the Bears, rushing for 557 yards on 119 carries for a 4.7-yard average.
He also caught 20 passes for 137 yards. He was signed originally by the Minnesota Vikings as an undrafted free agent out of UCLA in 2009.
Lending a hand:
Tight end Kellen Davis hosted a benefit during the bye weekend for the family of Bears fan Chris Pettry, a Lake Villa resident who was killed while he was in Jacksonville for the game against the Jaguars.
“It was my first big event, and I thought it went really well,” the five-year veteran said. “I felt really good. The family was so appreciative, obviously going through just a terrible ordeal like that.
“I was talking to the mom, Karen, and she said it meant a lot. That’s all I wanted out of it, just to try to give a helping hand.”
Bumps and bruises:
Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (hand), linebacker Blake Costanzo (thumb surgery) and cornerback Sherrick McManis did not practice Monday.
Costanzo, whose thumb was protected by a plastic cast, expects to play against the Lions on Monday night, but Jeffery is expected to be out.Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.