Bennett Rookie Diary: 11th Entry

The Chicago Bears took Earl Bennett in Round 3 of the NFL Draft thinking he may be able to contribute right away, but up until this point he's been inactive. In another installment of his Rookie Diary, Bennett writes about maybe getting a chance to be the punt returner Sunday if Devin Hester can't go.

It was a disappointing loss last weekend, especially coming after that great win in Indianapolis. Most of the guys in the locker room afterwards were pretty frustrated. It was pretty much the opposite of the feeling in our locker room the weekend before after we'd won against the Colts.

But one of the first things I'm learning now that the regular season has begun is that, at this level, nobody worries about a game that's over for too long. Nobody has the luxury of dwelling on mistakes or spending too much time patting himself on the back after a big win. You can get excited about a win and angry about a loss, but then it's time to move on. The season is simply too long to waste any time worrying about something that's over and you can't change. It's a waste of effort and distracts your focus that should be on the upcoming game.

I think we're confident going into the game against Tampa Bay this weekend. If you were here in the locker room with me Wednesday, you'd see some of the guys playing four-square on the carpet. When the team is doing that, it means the guys are relaxed and ready to go.

Tampa is a strong team offensively, and their quarterback, Brian Griese, is somebody many of our players know quite well, so it will be interesting to see how that plays out. I'm wondering how many of the plays they use will look familiar to us. Tampa's defense is quite similar to the Bears' system, so we are expecting to encounter quite a few of the same things we see against our defense when we practice. I see that as a definite advantage for our offense. Tampa is fast and smart, but it's a good matchup for us because we concentrate on speed, as well. The key to this game could be in avoiding penalties and turnovers.

The Buccaneers are known for their coverage, so it will be up to us to play at the top of our ability – but that's what is expected of us every week. The game plan is in place, and that's what we'll be working out this afternoon.

We're all really glad to have the opportunity to play at home at Soldier Field. Two games on the road before you get that first home game is difficult. At least last week's travel wasn't tiring. The flight was an hour, then we were back at O'Hare.

The weather conditions this Sunday should be ideal – warm and dry. It was brutal in Charlotte, with the heat index being well over 100 degrees. It's extremely difficult to play well in conditions like that because you are always facing dehydration. Even if you're careful to get a drink whenever you're on the sideline, it can creep up on you anyway with the exertion required. So I'm sure that's something we'll all be paying attention to this coming weekend.

We're waiting to hear about Devin Hester's status for the Tampa game. He had some kind of a rib injury last weekend. We don't really have any details yet, but he did go in for an MRI. You never want to have one of your big players go out, so we're all hoping that Devin will be fine. He's such an impact player on special teams, as well as on the offense. But there are many phases to our game, and if he can't play, then everybody else will just have to pick it up a notch.

WR Earl Bennett
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

I've been inactive the last two games. So if Devin is on the sideline, that might have an impact on that. I've definitely noticed a little more media by my locker today, so I guess somebody thinks I might be on the field this weekend.

I've been asked how far ahead I know if I am not going to play. So far, it has been pretty much right before the start of the game. I practice as usual all week in the hopes that I will be out there, but if it doesn't happen, I'm fine with that. It isn't disappointing – just part of the overall rookie learning process.

With this possible chance to play against Tampa, I'm still doing business as usual in terms of what I am trying to accomplish during practice. I think you should always play your best, whether or not you think you'd be called on to get into the game. And that is certainly what our coaches expect of us.

I have four family members coming to see the game. It doesn't cause me any added pressure, but it will definitely add to the fun. We've all been waiting for this for a long time, so I think it will be memorable.

I'm feeling ready physically, and mentally I'm definitely there. I'd love the opportunity to get some punt returns, but if not I'll be on the sideline learning all that I can.

We've been in two noisy stadiums recently, but just about everybody there has been cheering for the other guys. Finally, we'll be at home in front of our fans for the next two weeks. I'm certainly looking forward to that.

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

Bear Report Top Stories