Nick Laham - Getty Images
The Chicago Bears passing attack will look to continue to improve against the Detroit Lions on Monday Night. Hopefully the return of wide out Earl Bennett will ease the loss of rookie Alshon Jeffery.
When Chicago Bears rookie wide receiver Alshon Jeffery injured his hand catching a touchdown pass against the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Bears lost a key component of the new look offense. Jeffery had started to build a little rapport with quarterback Jay Cutler, accounting for 14 catches, 184 yards, and 2 TDs in his first 5 games as a pro.
His ascension into a more critical role came about partly because the Bears lost 5th year wide out Earl Bennett to an injury in week three. Bennett, who already has an established bond with Cutler, had 6 catches for 82 yards in those first three games while the Bears offense was working out some kinks.
It was fortuitous timing to have Bennett returning as Jeffery is rehabbing, but that's one reason GM Phil Emery added to the depth of the position. Both are different types of players, but Bennett should be able to slide right back in and keep the offense rolling. While Alshon was working primarily outside, Earl is more a classic slot receiver, but he does know all 3 WR positions.
The sure handed Bennett isn't as big as Jeffery, but pound for pound he's as tough as they come. I always harken back to last season when Bennett was really rolling as the Bears were stacking wins. When returning from his chest injury after the bye week, he and Cutler (and Earl's orange shoes) were really clicking. In weeks 9, 10, and 11, against the Eagles, Lions, and Chargers, Bennett had 14 receptions for 251 yards.
Bennett always seems to be able to snag the critical 3rd down play, and he's a smart receiver that usually makes himself available to his quarterback. I expect the Chicago offense will continue to improve and not miss a beat with Bennett back on the field. When Jeffery does return, and he'll be back in a month or so, the Bears offense will have another play maker to add to the mix. That's a pretty good problem to have.