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Friday, December 27, 2013
WR Earl Bennett could miss finale

By Michael C. Wright
ESPN.com

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The availability of receiver Earl Bennett remains in doubt with the team prepping for the season finale Sunday against the Green Bay Packers.

Bennett
Bennett missed another day of practice Friday as he deals with a personal family issue, and Bears coach Marc Trestman said "it's questionable right now at best" that the receiver will play after missing an entire week of practice.

"The fact he hasn't practiced is evidence of where we're going to have to go on this," Trestman said. "We just want to leave ourselves open [to the possibility that Bennett will return]. We don't want to close the door on it yet."

The team excused Bennett on Friday of last week to tend to the personal matter, and he returned to play in Sunday's game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Bennett caught two passes in that outing for 12 yards.

But when the team returned to Halas Hall to begin preparations for Green Bay, the Bears excused Bennett again.

Officially, Bennett is listed on Chicago's injury report as questionable while linebacker Lance Briggs (shoulder) is probable.

If Bennett is unable to play, Trestman plans to divvy up the receiver's repetitions between veteran Eric Weems and rookie Marquess Wilson. Wilson was inactive last week and has caught only one pass this season for 3 yards. Meanwhile, Weems is mainly a special teams contributor who has logged one reception for 8 yards.

"Eric and Marquess both would be in position to get more work if Earl doesn't get back," Trestman said. "They've got to know where to line up. They've got to know what to do, and we assume they are capable of doing that. We're excited for both of them to play. They've done very well at practice. We can count on them, and we think they'll do well and fit in. If Earl's not with us, we're certainly going to miss that in the locker room and on the field. But we feel very confident in those two guys."

A sixth-year veteran, Bennett is the club's No. 3 receiver. He possesses chemistry with quarterback Jay Cutler because they played ball together in college at Vanderbilt. Bennett has caught 32 passes this season for 243 yards and four touchdowns.