Benson More Important Than Ever

Bourbonnais - When Rex Grossman broke his ankle Friday, the Bears lost one of the players they were counting on to lead an offensive revival. Now getting first round pick RB Cedric Benson signed is increasingly important.

"We're running out of time," said head coach Lovie Smith. "We're breaking training camp this week and heading back to Halas Hall so we need to get Cedric in as soon as possible."

Benson has missed three weeks of training camp and the Bears will have their final practice in Bourbonnais on Wednesday. The talks appear no closer than when third pick Braylon Edwards signed a five-year deal with the Cleveland Browns last week worth $18 million guaranteed.

With Chad Hutchinson under center, the running game will be expected to carry the offense. Thomas Jones is the starter and it would be hard to imagine a scenario where Benson could supplant him for the job anytime soon.

There are only four practices scheduled before the Bears third preseason game at Indianapolis on Saturday. Meaning, even if Benson signs in the next day or two, he would likely sit against the Colts and play in just two preseason games.

End of the Line
Tight ends Desmond Clark and Dustin Lyman returned to practice on Sunday.

For Clark, it marks his first practice of in Ron Turner's offense, as he sat nearly three months with a sprained ankle. He is expected to assume the top spot on the depth chart, but will have to play catch up.

"It's just getting back out and seeing everything on the field," said Clark, who started 28 games for the Bears over the past two seasons. "As far as the book stuff goes, I know everything."

Clark's reception total dropped from 44 in 2003 to 24 last season. However, he initially feared his numbers would suffer an even worse fate when he injured his ankle during an individual workout in May.

"I was doing cone drills, planting and cutting back," Clark said. "I didn't have any ankle protection on or anything, and I was running, stopping and planting. My ankle just turned, it popped and I thought it was broke when I first did it."

It's unclear at this point if Clark will be cleared to play against the Colts.

Lyman has also missed time because of ankle injury. He played in the preseason opener, catching one pass for six yards, but was inactive against the Rams.

Ins & Outs
Receiver Mark Bradley missed practice on Sunday, as he recovers from a shoulder injury he suffered against St. Louis. The other spectators were linebacker Joe Odom (concussion), tight end Ron Johnson (ankle) and guard Steve Edwards (foot).

Safety Mike Green and kicker Doug Brien were had excused from practice because of personal reasons. Rookie Chris Harris worked with the first team defense in Green's absence.


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