CHICAGO -- Martellus Bennett’s absence at Soldier Field for Friday’s preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles was expected, given that he’d missed two practices and a walk-through session leading into the contest.
The question now is when Bennett will be allowed to rejoin his teammates.
Chicago Bears coach Marc Trestman and general manager Phil Emery have said Bennett needs to go through “a process” before he can return. But how long does this process last? Chicago receives the day off after Friday’s game and returns Sunday to the practice fields at Olivet Nazarene University.
“You never want to see a player suspended. But I think the philosophy and the culture that Marc Trestman and Phil Emery have instilled, not just in the locker room, it’s not just about Martellus, but about the whole organization," team president Ted Phillips told Fox during its broadcast of Friday's game. "It’s important to keep it and it’s simple: Humility, respect, and believe that the guy next to you is every bit as important as you are and that every employee is part of a championship organization. That is going to be done. So I think Martellus, he’ll come out of it a better teammate.”
If Bennett remains a no-show when the team returns to camp, it would seem to indicate the transgressions the tight end is being punished for are deeper than we’ve all speculated. Multiple sources believed Bennett’s suspension was a result of an accumulation of incidents, with his fight with rookie Kyle Fuller being simply the latest.
Putting it lightly, the two sources described the tight end as difficult. But would Emery and Trestman potentially sacrifice the cohesiveness of the offense this season to make a point? That’s not to say Bennett shouldn’t be disciplined. He should be. But the Bears also need to be mindful that Bennett’s punishment -- depending on how this plays out -- could wind up turning into a negative situation if not handled properly.
The bottom line is the Bears need Bennett back in the fold as quickly as possible as they work to improve on what last year was one of the best offenses in the NFL.
The preseason opener against the Eagles would have been a good time to bring back Bennett, even if the club’s intention was that he didn’t participate in the game.