Earl Bennett #80 of the Chicago Bears runs after a catch against the Buffalo Bills at Rogers Centre on November 7, 2010 in Toronto, Canada.
Earl Bennett rose in prominence over the course of the Bears 2010 season, but expect him to have a much bigger role in 2011. According to Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz, Bennett is a special kind of receiver.
“Earl is one of those receivers who has a unique ability to make an adjustment on the ball in the air,” said offensive coordinator Mike Martz. “He can get himself all turned around and twisted like a pretzel and still make the catch. He’s just a natural.”
Quarterback Jay Cutler knew this. As Bennett's teammate at Vanderbilt, Cutler already had a connection with the wideout. Cutler told Martz to give Bennett a chance, and when he did, the Bears benefited.
Bennett was the Bears second-leading receiver, with 46 catches and 561 yards. He would have likely had more if it wasn't for injury problems, especially considering Bennett's most impressive statistic: zero drops. If he got his hand on the ball, the Bears could count on a catch.
He has also been hard at work in the prolonged off-season, tweeting daily about his workouts. (As well as his shoe-shopping adventures. No word on if that will further endear him to Martz.)
For that reason, expect to see Martz use Bennett more often in the upcoming season.
“We didn’t throw it to him enough,” Martz said. “That will be remedied. He will figure in a much larger role than he did last year. He came to us late. He was injured. I wasn’t really sure where he was with all the stuff. But he established himself as a guy who needs to get a lot more balls than he did.
In the second year with Martz, Bennett should be much more comfortable with his scheme. His off-season work should help squelch any injury problems. With Martz and Cutler on his side, expect to hear his name called more often in 2011.