Bennett Rookie Diary: 13th Entry

Although he was inactive for the first four games of the year, Chicago Bears receiver Earl Bennett could not have been more excited to make his NFL debut last Sunday. In this installment of his Rookie Diary, Bennett writes about sitting atop the NFC North and getting ready for another road game at Atlanta.

Finally, I got the opportunity to play against the Lions last weekend. The experience was everything I had hoped it would be: exciting and amazing.

I got the word that I would be on the field just a few minutes after we got to the locker room on Sunday. It was such a great feeling. When I found out that it would be my turn, my heart just about jumped out of my chest. It's something that you think a lot about during training camp. You know that, sooner or later, you'll get your opportunity. But when that time arrives, it's unbelievable – a dream come true.

What I experienced out there was quite a bit different from anything I'd run across before. The speed and the intensity of a regular season game is completely different from that of preseason games. There's a lot more at stake.

It's not that the players are relaxing when you have a game during the preseason, but there isn't anything on the line. During the regular season, everybody knows that it's time to perform and to do well. Everybody brings it up a notch. You want to show the coaches what you can do, and you sure don't want anything that goes wrong to be your fault.

I was asked if a game where the Bears are in control pretty much the entire time is somewhat of a letdown. Not a chance. You know that at any time your opponent can come back and get you. That's exactly what happened to the Bears against Detroit last season. You can be sure that the veterans let us know all about that and made sure we weren't in any danger of taking the outcome of this game for granted.

Another question I had this week was whether or not nerves are a problem for a rookie in his first game. I can only answer for myself – of course. But for me, that was never a factor. I'm fortunate because I am in on special teams early in the game. It's better when you're in there right away. You get your hits, then you go on and play the rest of the game. I'd much rather do that than stand on the sideline waiting for my turn to come in and play.

I also think getting in early helps with the rookie problem of thinking too much before reacting. If you have to make plays early, you get into the flow of the game and you don't stand around worrying about things too much. The sooner a player is working from his instincts, the better. It makes a big difference in your overall speed.

WR Earl Bennett
Rex Arbogast/AP Images

I think one thing the team as a whole was pleased about was the fact that there was no letdown after the Eagles game. I know some of the media were questioning our ability to sustain a high level of intensity week after week. It seems to me that question has been answered. Our intention is to continue that same level of effort when we go to Atlanta next Sunday.

Atlanta is a tough team. Their defense is known for its speed and for the hard hits they can get you with. Their linemen and their linebackers can be particularly troublesome. It's our job on offense to stay clear and make the plays. That means playing fast and staying alert. That's our concentration right now.

This week I'll be working on perfecting my routes, getting away from the defense, working through the plays. As always, I'll be spending a lot of time on our playbook. As a rookie, I think that is something that takes up a lot of your time. It's essential to know everything you're going to do well before they call you to come in on a play.

I feel that I've been successful so far, but I realize that I have a long way to go. The important thing for me last weekend was to show the coaches that I could play at this level. I certainly hope that I was able to accomplish that and that I will get that same opportunity to be in there against the Falcons.

Now we are in the second quarter of the season, and we are at the top of our division. I know that this was a surprise for some people, mainly the ones who predicted that Green Bay and the Vikings would dominate. But for us, it was no surprise at all.

This is a talented bunch of guys, and we always want to come out on top. We went into the season focusing not only on the playoffs but on the Super Bowl. I think that remains a realistic goal. We're heading to Atlanta to improve on our record. The fact that it is an away game against a tough team only makes the challenge more interesting. I think we're all definitely looking forward to playing this game.

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

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