Jay Cutler, Earl Bennett Impressing Early In Bears Camp
For me, the latter statement is quite annoying. I'm not saying the receivers are great. They aren't by any stretch. To say they have none and Cutler will be left with no one to throw to, though, is asinine.
Greg Olsen is a solid tight end, Devin Hester is a legitimate deep threat and Matt Forte is a premier pass-catching running back. So there are three weapons Cutler can use immediately. Next, he'll look to his collegiate teammate who was the Bears' third-rounder last season, Earl Bennett.
Thus far, the reports on both Cutler and Bennett from camp have been positive.
- Sunday, Cutler completed his first 12 passes -- the streak was broken when Forte dropped a pass. For the entire day, he completed 18 of 23 passes.
- Monday, Cutler drove the team down the field in the two-minute drill. The drive ended in a field goal, but he nearly completed a spectacular touchdown to Bennett.
- Most importantly, Cutler and Bennett have reportedly shown a very solid rapport with each other -- knocking off the rust from three years ago (when they were the Jay and Earl Show). The Bears are very confident in Bennett's ability to grow into the starting role. Last season was viewed a red-shirt year of sorts, though the Bears maintain he was ready to get on the field late in the season and didn't only because Brandon Lloyd returned from injury. Bears wide receivers coach Darryl Drake compared Bennett to Bernard Berrian, who has blossomed into a solid wideout after a modest beginning.
It's short-sighted when people want to count on third or fourth round picks at receiver when they are rookies, but if they don't do anything their rookie year, they are written off by the masses. Did Steve Smith teach us nothing? Brandon Marshall? I could go on. Bennett learned his position last year like so many before him and now this season it's his turn to show what he can do. It's best to reserve judgment until he's had the chance to prove himself on the field. And he gets to do so with a quarterback with whom he's already put up sick stats (at Vandy).
The Bears and Cutler are high on Bennett. They have just over a month until the season begins, in which time the rapport can continue to develop from where it already is.
Now, it's only been a few days of training camp, so let's not get ahead of ourselves. This isn't Manning-to-Harrison or Montana-to-Rice in the making. But, if the Bears see development from Bennett and Hester continues to grow, they'll have quite the well-rounded offense -- which takes pressure off the defense and makes the team a legitimate threat to take the NFC North, if not more.
That's the goal, and training camp is a time when teams begin to work toward their ultimate goals.