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updated: 8/18/2013 7:20 PM

When will Bears throw to TE Bennett?

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  • Martellus Bennett touched the ball during this kickoff return against the Chargers, but in two games quarterback Jay Cutler has yet to throw to the tight end.

      Martellus Bennett touched the ball during this kickoff return against the Chargers, but in two games quarterback Jay Cutler has yet to throw to the tight end.
    Associated Press

 
 

It was only natural to assume, since the Bears are paying Martellus Bennett $20.4 million over four years, that they would occasionally throw him the football.

But Bennett, who had 55 catches for 626 yards with the Giants last season, has yet to be targeted in the preseason. That is expected to change Friday night against the Raiders in Oakland, when most Bears starters will play at least the first half.

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Quarterback Jay Cutler is also expected to target someone other than Brandon Marshall, who was the intended receiver on all 5 of his passes in last week's game.

"We certainly would like to (get Bennett involved), and he would tell you that he was certainly involved in the early play calls (against the Chargers)," said Bears coach Marc Trestman. "We had a couple calls to him that we wound up going to other receivers. I don't know that any of this, passing-game wise, is any indication of the direction that hopefully we are going.

"We don't want to be a one-dimensional team. But Brandon (Marshall) hasn't had much practice time either, and it was good to see him go out and have an opportunity to make some plays and to see that he was physically ready to do. That was very encouraging."

Cutler hooked up with Bennett frequently throughout training-camp practices. But that connection must be established in game situations if the Bears' offense is to be more diversified than last season, when Marshall had a lopsided 41 percent of the team's receptions and 46 percent of the receiving yards.

"I think we have a good idea of what he can do through practice," Cutler said of Bennett. "This next game, hopefully we get him going a little bit, too."

Getting noticed:

Rookie Michael Ford's 100-yard kickoff return against the Chargers won't move him past Devin Hester as the team's No. 1 return man, but it will help his chances of making the 53-man roster.

"I hope so," said the undrafted running back from LSU. "Special teams is where it's at because we have two great running backs in Matt Forte and Michael Bush. So I just have to find my niche somewhere else because those guys are great running backs.

"But you never know. It's a long season. I could go in if somebody goes down, but pray to God that doesn't happen, just have to find my way somewhere."

Ford is competing for the No. 3 job with Armando Allen, who played that role least season, and veteran Curtis Brinkley, who was added late in training camp. Allen has been out for more than a week with a hamstring injury, and Brinkley has yet to handle the ball.

Sack attack:

Defensive end Julius Peppers is expected to see his first preseason playing time Friday night against the Raiders after being held out of the first two games as a precaution.

But Peppers' absence against the Chargers gave Corey Wootton and Shea McClellin additional snaps, as they compete for the other end spot. Each of the contenders had a sack.

Wootton, who missed the preseason opener with a calf injury, bull-rushed past first-round pick D.J. Fluker, while McClellin used speed off the edge to get around veteran Max Starks.

"Normally, we probably would have been switching off," Wootton said of McClellin and himself. "But it was good for us to both get the same amount of reps because we're competing with each other, and it's good for us to both be out there and get some good tape."

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