WR Earl Bennett, Free agent
HT: 5-11, WT: 209, Born: 3-23-1987, College: Vanderbilt, Drafted: Round 3
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Earl Bennett was signed by Cleveland on May 15 as veteran depth. With Josh Gordon’s suspension and the team cutting ties with Greg Little, Bennett could see some playing time this season, but he’s currently behind some younger players.
2013 Game Summaries
Week 1 - Earl Bennett saw very limited action when the Bears were running three wide receiver sets, or when Alshon Jeffery or Brandon Marshall were taking a breather. He had only 1 target and catch for the day - a quick six yard slant on the opening drive of the third quarter.
Week 2 - Earl Bennett saw more playing time, but was not really involved in the offense. He had one nice catch late in the second quarter for 16 yards and another short curl for 3 yards at the end of the third.
Week 3 - Earl Bennett had just two catches on the day, but the second one was a big one. The Bears watched their 21 point lead dwindle down to just four points when the Steelers kicked a field goal to open the 4th quarter. Jay Cutler led the Bears down to the Pittsburgh 17 with two key third down conversions and they were facing 3rd and 5 again. From the shotgun formation, Cutler launched a perfect throw to Bennett’s outside shoulder. The play was initially ruled incomplete, but after the Bears challenged the call, you could see from the replay that Bennett dragged his toe. It pushed the Bears back to a 10 point lead and crushed the hopes of any comeback from the Steelers.
Week 4 - Earl Bennett’s only action came during garbage time in the 4th quarter then the Bears were down by 24 points with less than five minutes to play. Bennett also had a 27 yard catch on a crossing route in the third quarter but it was called back for an illegal hands to the face penalty on the Chicago offensive line. On the play before the touchdown, Bennett was targeted by a pass from Jay Cutler just before the end zone, but it was tipped at the line and Bennett couldn’t come up with it. He was flagged for offensive pass interference on the play but it was picked up due to the tip. On the next play, Cutler was under pressure, scrambled and threw a nice pass to Bennett who had come back to the pylon and was standing in the corner of the end zone. He made the catch, giving Chicago a slim chance of making a comeback.
Week 5 - Earl Bennett was involved in several key plays for Chicago in this game, but neither will appear on the stat sheet for him. In the second quarter, he ran a crossing route with Alshon Jeffery on the goal line and when the defenders ran into each other, Jeffery was able to come free and Jay Cutler hit him with a nice pass. In the fourth quarter, Bennett was targeted on a critical 4th and 2. The Bears were down by two scores and needed to push for the touchdown. Bennett ran an inside-out route and had enough separation and distance to get the first down. Jay Cutler threw the ball perfectly but Bennett took his eyes off the ball and it hit him in the facemask and bounced incomplete.
Week 6 - Earl Bennett was definitely on the field, and even saw a couple target passes thrown his way. In fact, at the end of the first half, Jay Cutler targeted Bennett in the end zone on his final pass of the half. But the pass was overthrown and fell incomplete. Cutler also targeted him late in the fourth quarter on a sideline route, but the ball was off target and Bennett couldn’t stay in bounds and make the catch.
Week 7 - Earl Bennett didn’t have a catch until late in the third quarter. His first catch was a quick screen where Bennett broke down the right side of the field after the catch for nine yards. His next reception was a quick slant pass from Josh McCown there Bennett was hit hard, but held on to the ball for a gain of eight. On the next play, Matt Forte took the ball 50 yards for a touchdown. On 3rd and 6 as the Bears began the 4th quarter, Bennett caught his final pass – a medium square in that was good for seven yards and a 1st down. Bennett had a TD late in the game called back because he lined up on the line of scrimmage with the TE and the Bears were flagged for an illegal formation. Martellus Bennett scored just two plays later.
Week 10 - Earl Bennett played most of the game as the WR3, but has very few looks in his direction. He finished the game with just two catches, a short two yarder in second quarter and an eight yard dump on the final drive of the game. On that play, he caught a short screen and scampered up the left sideline for eight yards, but the Lions drew a 15 yard penalty for roughing the passer, making the play a big 23 yard gain.
Week 11 - Earl Bennett had one catch in this game – a short pass in the first quarter where he was forced out of bounds after only a one yard gain.
Week 12 - Earl Bennett had a career game against the Rams, coming up with eight receptions on eight targets. However, only the last one was for any serious length – a 17 yard catch and run where Josh McCown was under pressure, scrambled and hit found Bennett wide open for a nice catch and run. It was Bennett’s third consecutive catch, keeping the Bears comeback hopes alive. However, McCown fumbled on the next play and the Ram recovered it and returned it for a touchdown, ending any hope that the Bears would come back. Earlier in the quarter, Bennett drew a pass interference in the end zone which set up Chicago at 1st and goal from the 1, where there were able to plunge it in eight plays later.
Week 13 - Earl Bennett had only two catches in this game and neither were of any significance. The first one came late in the second quarter, and although it was for a big 16 yard gain, it was on third down and 18, and the Vikings simply didn’t cover him. He lined up in the slot and ran straight down the right hashmark. Josh McCown put the ball on him and he was tackled by the safety short of the first down. His only other catch came as the game was winding down – a short pass to the left flat where he was turned around, caught the ball and fell backwards for only a two yard gain, but he did not get out of bounds and the Bears had to use a timeout to stop the clock.
Week 14 - Earl Bennett has been the forgotten man in Chicago’s offense this season. But it was the Cowboys that forgot him on third and goal from the four yard line. Bennett lined up in the left slot and the defense left him completely alone. He ran to the end zone, turned around and there wasn’t a defender within three yards of him. Josh McCown flipped him the ball for the easy score. Bennett converted another third down for the Bears in the third quarter. On third and nine, he ran a square in over the middle about seven yards beyond the line of scrimmage. McCown dumped him the ball and he spun away from the defender, running up field for a 14 yard gain and another first down.
Week 15 - Earl Bennett caught every pass that he was thrown in this game, and most of them were short check-down type of passes. His best catch happened with five minutes left in the 4th quarter, a short four yard TD catch. Bennett lined up in the slot, arm checked his defender and ran four yards to the goal line and turned around. Jay Cutler hit him with a tight spiral and despite being well defended; Bennett made the catch and scored.
Week 16 - Bennett had one catch just during the first 3 quarters – a desperation pass where Jay Cutler had no other options. Bennett was tackled for no gain. He added a two point conversion reception after the only Chicago touchdown – a short slant route from the slot where the defense left him completely uncovered and he was wide open. He was the target of the pick-six that Cutler threw for his last pass of the game, and Bennett added a meaningless 12 yard reception late in the 4th quarter when the Bears were down by 43 points.