Chicago Sun-Times

Earl Bennett will be ready to go for playoff opener

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The Bears sure seemed to miss wide receiver Earl Bennett against the Packers on Sunday. At least Jay Cutler did.

Bennett sat out the Bears' 10-3 loss at Lambeau Field with an ankle injury. But he said Wednesday he'll be ready for the playoff game.

''It's going to help me out a lot -- getting well and getting ready for whoever we're playing,'' Bennett said of sitting out the regular-season finale. ''I'm going to be able to go full speed. It definitely helped.''

Bennett has 46 receptions for 561 yards (12.2 yards per catch) and three touchdowns this season. But his role has grown as Cutler has gotten the hang of Mike Martz's offense. In his last 10 games, Bennett has 33 receptions for 481 yards (14.6 yards per catch) and all three touchdowns -- 25 of his 33 receptions in that span (76 percent) have been for first downs or touchdowns, including a string of 18 straight.

And Bennett's emergence as a big-play, third-down, run-after-the-catch receiver (his first 13 receptions this season were for nine yards or less through Week 5) helped the Bears limit Devin Hester's offensive snaps, which seemed to spark the Hester renaissance as the best kick returner in the NFL. Since Week 4, Hester has averaged 20.6 yards on 22 punt returns and 35.6 yards on 12 kick returns.

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This page contains a single entry by Mark Potash published on January 5, 2011 7:14 PM.

Jay Cutler: 'We're Not Fixing Anything' was the previous entry in this blog.

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