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updated: 8/11/2014 11:28 AM

Bears lift suspension; Bennett returns to practice

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  • Video: Trestman on Bennett's return

  • Tight end Martellus Bennett is back with the Bears, who suspended him last week. Bennett said he was greeted by his teammates with hugs and high-fives.

      Tight end Martellus Bennett is back with the Bears, who suspended him last week. Bennett said he was greeted by his teammates with hugs and high-fives.
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer/2013 file

 
 

BOURBONNAIS -- Tight end Martellus Bennett is back at training camp after serving a team-mandated six-day suspension, and he participated in Sunday's 3 p.m. practice.

Bennett was suspended the evening of Aug. 4 after he body-slammed first-round pick Kyle Fuller during a practice that morning. Bennett reacted violently after Fuller reached in to try to strip the ball from his grasp after the tight end caught a short pass. Fuller got all ball, but in the process yanked Bennett to the ground. The 6-foot-6, 265-pound tight end jumped up and tossed the 190-pound cornerback to the ground.

"We have a way we cooperate and a way we work, and he understands that," Trestman said after Sunday's practice. "He understands it fully. He knows what's expected of him. He's had time to think about it. I think he's really done a good job with the time he's had off, and we're happy to have him back."

Bennett was fined an undisclosed amount and suspended for an "undetermined length of time," for "conduct detrimental to the team," according to Bears general manager Phil Emery. Bennett missed two practices and the preseason opener Friday night.

The Bears' brain trust, including Trestman said at the time that a "process" had to be worked through before Bennett could return. "When the time is right, he'll be back," Trestman said late last week.

"We had a process, a protocol of what we wanted to do and he did it," Trestman said Sunday. "He did everything we wanted to do in a very positive and professional manner, and that's why he's back. He deserves to be back."

The Bears clearly needed to hear from Bennett that his pattern of violent outbursts against teammates on the practice field would cease, and that he accepted blame.

A year ago, Bennett slammed cornerback Kelvin Hayden to the ground during a practice and Bennett and defensive end Lamarr Houston fought during an off-season practice.

The seventh-year veteran apparently has seen the error of his ways.

"I did everything they asked me to do," a smiling Bennett said outside the Olivet Nazarene University cafeteria in the early afternoon. "That's why I'm standing in front of y'all right now. Everything they asked me to do, I did, and I did it exceptionally well."

Bennett was asked if he had learned a lesson from the incident.

"Now I understand how they want me to practice," he said. "I've always been a guy who practiced hard. I understand what they want me from me and just do it the way they want it to be done."

Bennett also acknowledged that he could have demonstrated better behavior and exercised better judgment.

"I think I could have handled the situation differently," he said. "Any way differently than what I did."

Bennett enjoyed a career year in 2013, his first season with the Bears, who signed him to a four-year $20.4 million in free agency. He caught 65 passes for 759 yards last year and became one of the major players on an offense that finished No. 2 in the NFL in yards per play.

Bennett is being counted on again this year. But in his absence Friday night in the preseason-opening 34-28 victory over the Eagles, Bears tight ends caught a total of 10 passes for 112 yards and 2 touchdowns. That included 6 catches for 68 yards by Zach Miller, who had the 2 TD grabs.

"It's always tough to watch a game," Bennett said. "You want to be out there with the team. But I thought the tight ends did me proud, so I was super excited for them. Zach was out there balling. He had some YAC (yards after the catch). Dante (Rosario) caught a big ball across the middle.

"I thought they played exceptionally well. To see all those guys get a chance to go out there and do what we've been working on together and having them perform at a high level, I was extremely happy about that."

According to Bennett, he received a warm welcome back from his teammates.

"They love me, and I love the guys," he said. "I got a lot of hugs and high-fives and slaps on the butt and all that good stuff and a lot of jokes. They all seemed very happy to have me back around. Guys say they missed me; I missed the guys. That's one of the best things about playing this sport is your friendships with the guys that you play with."

• Follow Bob's Bears and NFL reports on Twitter@BobLeGere.

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