Bears' Bennett is done for the year

Updated 12/8/2015 7:22 PM
  • Bears tight end Martellus Bennett was placed on season-ending injured reserve Tuesday with injured ribs

    Bears tight end Martellus Bennett was placed on season-ending injured reserve Tuesday with injured ribs Associated Press

What started out as potentially an encore season for Chicago Bears tight end Martellus Bennett after his first Pro Bowl berth in 2014 has ended with a thud.

Bennett was placed on season-ending injured reserve Tuesday with injured ribs. A rib injury kept him out of the Thanksgiving Night victory over the Packers at Lambeau Field. But he returned to start vs. the 49ers on Sunday and caught 3 passes for 14 yards. He left the game briefly after fumbling but returned.

Bennett boycotted all of the voluntary portion of the Bears' off-season program in a failed ploy to renegotiate his $20.4 million, four-year deal at the halfway point. Even though he was coming off career bests of 90 catches, 916 yards and 6 touchdowns, it seemed a questionable move at the time, considering the Bears had recently assembled a new coaching staff after hiring John Fox to replace Marc Trestman as head coach.

Despite that, Bennett got off to an excellent start. In the first four games, the 6-foot-6, 265-pound eight-year veteran was targeted 31 times and caught 24 passes for 201 yards and 2 touchdowns. In the next four games, he was targeted 36 times and had 21 catches for 191 yards and 1 touchdown. But, in the most recent four-game segment, including the game he missed, Bennett was targeted 13 times and caught 5 passes for 44 yards.

Bennett still leads the Bears with 53 receptions, but he averaged a career-low 8.3 yards per catch. His 439 receiving yards are third on the team.

Bennett has reportedly been upset with his shrinking role in the offense, which has pivoted toward former backup tight end Zach Miller, who is now first on the depth chart with Bennett sidelined.

Miller caught just 3 passes for 35 yards in the first seven games but has 13 catches for 193 yards and 4 touchdowns in the past five games despite catching just 1 pass for 6 yards against the 49ers.

In those same five games, Bennett has 16 catches but for just 115 yards and no touchdowns.

On Monday, Fox made no mention of Bennett's injury.

"As I mentioned (Sunday), we didn't have any injuries where guys weren't able to return," the Bears coach said. "That has not changed since."

Asked specifically about Bennett's ribs, Fox said: "We'll just evaluate it again. It's truly day to day. They were in (Monday) got a lift, a flush from the game. They have (Tuesday) off. I'm sure he'll have treatment, and then we'll see where we are Wednesday."

Tight end Rob Housler was signed to the 53-man roster to provide depth behind Miller and undrafted rookie Khari Lee, who is primarily used as an extra blocker but has 1 catch for 7 yards.

The 6-foot-5, 250-pound Housler has 106 receptions for 1,139 yards (10.7-yard average) and 1 touchdown in five seasons with the Arizona Cardinals (2011-14) and Cleveland Browns (2015).

Blanchard on practice squad

The Bears signed quarterback Matt Blanchard to the practice squad and terminated the practice squad contract of quarterback Justin Worley.

Blanchard led Lake Zurich High School to the 7-A championship game in 2006 and entered the NFL with the Bears in 2012 as an undrafted rookie out of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

Blanchard spent a majority the 2012 season on the Bears' practice squad and the 2013 preseason with the team. He has also spent time with the Carolina Panthers, Green Bay Packers, Cleveland Browns and Indianapolis Colts.

Off the list

Sixth-round rookie offensive tackle Tayo Fabuluje has been removed from the reserve/suspended-by-the-commissioner list for failure to comply with the NFL's policy on performance enhancing drugs.

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