By Adam Hoge-
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. (CBS) — The Bears’ first preseason game is only a week away and it’s becoming apparent they could be without a number of key players in Charlotte next Friday.
Left tackle Jermon Bushrod has essentially missed four full practices after he hurt his calf in warmups Monday and even though he has been labeled as “day-to-day”, he’s not sure he will return for the preseason opener against the Panthers.
“It’d be nice. It’d be nice to get out there and put some of this hard work that we’ve been doing out there against another opponent,” he said Friday. “But I do not want to get it to the point where I’m out even longer.”
Bushrod is out of the walking boot he was originally fitted for after the injury occurred, but he said he’s “never had an injury like this before,” so he’s being as cautious as possible. The Bears also want to be careful as they understand how crucial it is for their new cornerstone left tackle to be healthy this season. At the same time, however, it’s important for Bushrod to be on the field earning the trust of quarterback Jay Cutler.
“I want to be out here for my team, so the more days I can strengthen this thing back up and then get it back feeling 100 (percent), then I’ll be ready to go,” Bushrod said.
Martellus Bennett Still Not Comfortable
The Bears’ other big free agent signing during the offseason was Martellus Bennett. So far in training camp, the tight end has shined and seemingly become a favorite target of Cutler. Surprisingly though, Bennett said Friday he’s still not comfortable in the offense.
“Honestly, I’m not very comfortable at all,” he said. “I’m very uncomfortable out there with everything. It’s just the way it is. Once you get comfortable with what’s going on, that’s when you start to scale it back, and I’m trying to pick it up a notch.”
That’s not the way it has looked to the naked eye, however. Bennett has joined Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery to form a reliable three-person tandem of big receiving targets — and a competitive one at that.
“If Brandon makes a great play, I have to make one, it’s my turn, come on coach call something for me, I want to make a play, and Alshon’s the same way,” Bennett said. “So you got three big guys out there that’s not only competing against the defense, we try to out-do each other.”
But they’re also there celebrating with each other when one of them makes an explosive play. Earlier this week, Marshall took the ball from Bennett after the tight end caught a touchdown and alley-ooped him the ball to dunk over the goalpost. Unfortunately, Bennett didn’t get high enough and was rejected by the crossbar.
“It was like seven hours later, toward the end of practice, we’ve been out there for for seven hours, legs were gone,” Bennett said. “First I didn’t think he’d be able to throw a nice pass, but he looked like Derrick Rose on the alley-oop. He threw it up, I went up and got it and I was in-between land. Should I finger roll it or should I dunk it? I couldn’t make up my mind and I ended up not doing either.”
– Cornerback Tim Jennings is back at training camp after being excused from practice for personal reasons.
– Linebacker D.J. Williams (calf) was no longer wearing a boot on his leg, but was still limping noticeably. He’s still listed as week-to-week.
– And in case you were wondering, Martellus Bennett wants you to know that he is everybody’s “BFF”.
Adam Hoge covers the Bears for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamHoge.