BOURBONNAIS -- The fining and suspension of tight end Martellus Bennett boils down to this: the Bears want him back on the field as soon as possible, but only if he can control his emotions.
The Bears don't want to see a repeat of his rash actions that can hurt the team -- or his teammates.
Bennett was fined an unspecified amount and suspended for an "undetermined length of time," according to general manager Phil Emery, who said the sanctions were for "conduct detrimental to the team."
The 265-pound Bennett body-slammed first-round pick Kyle Fuller during Monday's practice after the 190-pound cornerback's attempt to rip the ball from his possession spun Bennett to the ground.
It was a clean play that wouldn't have drawn a penalty flag in a game situation. Bennett's retaliation would have cost the Bears 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct and likely have resulted in his ejection.
Monday's altercation was certainly not the first time Bennett has instigated extracurricular activity and interrupted a Bears practice.
During last year's training camp, Bennett flung 195-pound cornerback Kelvin Hayden to the ground. In the off-season, he got into it with 300-pound defensive end Lamarr Houston, at least picking on someone closer to his own size that time.
It was probably the cumulative effect off all those transgressions that resulted in the team taking action. But we can only guess at that because neither Emery nor Trestman would address any questions that sought a more thorough explanation for what is believed to be an unprecedented action stemming from misconduct during a training camp practice.
For all we know, Bennett may have been on double-secret probation.
Bennett didn't help his situation with his flippant and profanity-laced comments to reporters shortly after the incident. Asked if he expected to be fined, Bennett's cavalier answer was: "I can afford it."
He then claimed ignorance as to why he might be fined, before elaborating on a long-winded, self-serving explanation of why he behaves as he does and how he's a hard-worker. But his lackadaisical demeanor during training camp practices suggests otherwise.
Of course, the Bears want Bennett back on the field because he's a difference-maker and one of the main reasons last year's offense was No. 3 in yards per play. The drop-off from him to the No. 2 tight end in terms of pass-catching production is precipitous.
"Our goal is to have Martellus back as soon as possible," Emery said. "He's a very loved and respected teammate. We want him back, but it's a process we have to work through. He will remain on the active 90-man roster, but he will not be involved in any team activities at this time."
Both Emery and coach Marc Trestman spoke of a "process' that must be navigated before Bennett can return although without supplying any details.
"We're in communication with Marty," Trestman said. "I'll be talking with him (Tuesday). We've got a plan and a process in place. And as I told the team today, 'We love him. He works hard. He loves football. He's a good father, and we want to get him back as soon as we can.' We'll go through this process, and when the time is right he'll be back."
Bennett's 65 catches and 759 receiving yards in 2013 were both career highs for the seventh-year veteran. If he's in the proper frame of mind, there's no reason he can't exceed those numbers this season.
"We're really looking forward to Marty's return," offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer said. "Everybody on the team wants Marty back. We want the right Marty back."
It's doubtful that Bennett will be on the field for Friday night's preseason opener, but the longer he's away the more it hurts the offense.
"I'm going to talk to Marty today," Trestman said after Tuesday morning's practice. "(We'll) see where he's at and continue to talk each and every day and make sure we have an open line of communication, which we have."
On the field, quarterback Jay Cutler may miss Bennett more than anyone else because he loses an effective weapon.
"We're all supporting Marty and hope we get him back soon," the quarterback said. "We try to protect each other out here, and we need everybody. We've got to do our best in the heat of battle."
But Cutler went out of his way to compliment the rookie Fuller on his behavior.
"It's a tough situation," Cutler said. "I thought Kyle did a great job of handling himself, and we'll move forward. I was just making sure he's OK, first thing. He's mature beyond his years. He handled himself great. He's got a bright future."
For now, you can't say that about Bennett.
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