Bennett Rookie Diary: 7th Entry

An awful lot has happened to Chicago Bears rookie Earl Bennett since the last time he checked in, like his first career TD in the pros. In this installment of his Rookie Diary, Bennett writes about scoring off that punt and the decision to anoint Kyle Orton as the team's starting quarterback.

It's great to be back in Chicago now that camp is over. So much has happened since I last checked in.

Overall, camp was pretty much what I'd expected it to be: a lot of hard work and very long hours. But that's why I'm here – to learn what I need to know to succeed in this league.

We worked from early in the morning until late at night every day of the week. We went from conditioning to practice to meetings with little or no free time. And whenever we found that we had nothing to do, most of us would head for our rooms to study the playbook or get some sleep.

One thing I had not expected was that our weight was so closely monitored. I learned pretty fast how to eat the correct diet. You don't want to be out there too fat to move. Really, it was difficult at times. You work hard, you get hungry, you eat a lot. And believe me, what they had in the dining hall was all very good. But I followed my routine and came out just about where I wanted to be in terms of weight.

Two weeks ago, I was in my first game at Soldier Field. The veterans had told me what to expect in terms of crowd noise, but it was really crazy out there. I can't imagine what it will be like during the regular season.

In Vanderbilt's stadium I thought it could get loud, but that was nothing compared to Soldier Field's noise level. As a player, I can say I really enjoyed it. Fans that enthusiastic get your adrenaline going.

Our second preseason game was a few nights ago in Seattle. It's really different when you are traveling with a professional football team as opposed to traveling with your team in college. Everything is a lot nicer at this level. So although the flight was long and there was a quick turnaround in terms of coming back home, it was enjoyable in terms of the travel experience.

Naturally, we wanted to win. It's frustrating when you feel you have done all you can do and the results are not in your favor.

One thing that I'll always remember is that I got my first NFL touchdown. I had a punt return for 75 yards.

When I saw the ball coming toward me, my first thought was to make a good catch and to secure the ball. Then I looked downfield for the best routes. I thought that if I made a few quick cuts I'd be able to get through to the end zone, and that's pretty much the way things worked out. There was some great blocking, and that made a real difference in my ability to get in OK.

When I went back to our bench, the guys were patting me on the back and saying nice things. But they also reminded me to keep my head in the game.


WR Earl Bennett
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

I guess that's a very common rookie mistake – you do something good and are so busy thinking about it or patting yourself on the back that you do something really dumb on the next play. So I tried not to think about it too much until the game was over. You can be sure I'm going to keep that ball.

We didn't come out with a win over the Seahawks, but I think I learned quite a bit. Facing other teams is quite a bit different from facing the people you know in scrimmage. There are some hard hits out there, and the speed of the game is definitely faster. As a rookie, you need to learn to react quickly.

Now we are back at Halas Hall preparing for the game against the 49ers this Thursday night. The topic of the day here is that Kyle Orton will be the starting quarterback. As a rookie who hasn't played very long with any of the Bears quarterbacks, it didn't make much of a difference to me who would be starting. But I think for the veterans it was important to get this established well before then next game.

What I'll be working on this week is punt returns and running routes, just as I have the past two games. I need to improve my technique and become faster and more confident out there. Each time I can be out on the field during a game my learning curve improves, so I'm hoping for a chance to do that. And if I'm not out there playing, you can be sure I'll there on the sidelines trying to learn all I can.

Earl Bennett writes his Rookie Diary with longtime correspondent Beth Gorr every week exclusively for BearReport.com.


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