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Tuesday, July 27, 2010
ChatWrap: What about Earl Bennett?

By Kevin Seifert
ESPN.com

Thanks to everyone for participating in the return of our SportsNation chat. We broke down looming training camp issues, touched on Joey Harrington's apparent role in "LOST" and before it was over, I was fending off multiple offers to start an NFC North-only fantasy league. (Not going to happen, but you fine readers are welcome to create one for yourselves.)

Meanwhile, Sean of Skokie, Ill., spurred a new answer on the old question of the Chicago Bears' receivers. Here is the relevant exchange:
Sean (Skokie, IL)

Since your guess is just about as good as anyone else's: Who do you think will be the Bears leading receiver at the end of the year? (Note: I consider Matt Forte an acceptable answer)

Kevin Seifert (2:30 PM)

And it would be a guess. ... I think Forte's got a good shot at it, but his catches might be "split" with Chester Taylor. So I'm going to go rogue and say Earl Bennett. No one has talked about him this offseason, but if this offense is based on trusting the receiver, there is no receiver Jay Cutler trusts more than Bennett.

We all know about the chemistry Cutler and Bennett developed at Vanderbilt; it translated into Bennett catching 54 passes last season. (Devin Hester led Bears receivers with 57 catches.) But consider what Cutler recently told the Chicago Sun-Times while discussing the differences between Martz's offense and the West Coast schemes he has played in:
In the West Coast [offense], you can see it and let it fly. But this system is total trust. You have to trust the receivers. You have to trust the call. You have to trust the spots. If you don't, if you don't let it fly when it's supposed to, it's going to be an interception. You take your seven steps, you identify the coverage and let the ball go. The receiver is supposed to be there.

Bennett hasn't gotten as much attention as Hester, Johnny Knox and even Devin Aromashodu during offseason discussion of this transition. But what do you think? Aren't we overlooking the long-time chemistry Cutler and Bennett have developed? Or do you think Bennett, known as a "possession receiver," is going to be phased out of the speed-first Martz scheme?