By Adam Hoge-
HALAS HALL (CBS) Wide receiver Earl Bennett and defensive tackle Henry Melton were both cleared to practice Monday as the Bears’ first game week of the regular season began at Halas Hall.
Both players missed most of the preseason with concussions, but were able to return just in time as preparation for the Cincinnati Bengals got underway.
Of course, while both Bennett and Melton practiced Monday, their respective statuses for Sunday are unclear. Melton appears likely to play, but head coach Marc Trestman expressed some concern about the defensive tackle’s conditioning last week and admitted he could be limited. While the players had the weekend off, Melton worked diligently on his conditioning.
“They’ve been working me pretty hard all through the weekend, trying to get me back,” he said. “I’m feeling good. I went out there and ran a little bit. I’m feeling great.”
Bennett’s situation is a little murkier, as he has been out since Aug. 3 — about a week longer than Melton.
“Obviously he hasn’t had the practice time or the conditioning level right now. So it’s plausible,” Trestman said when asked if there was a chance Bennett won’t play Sunday. “I don’t want to say unlikely because I don’t know how the week’s going to go, but it’s plausible that he could be out on Sunday.”
Meanwhile, offensive tackle Jonathan Scott (knee), who missed all but three practices during the preseason, was also on the practice field Monday. Scott said he was limited and added that he’ll have to see how the knee responds this week before knowing if he would be able to play Sunday. Scott will serve as the backup left tackle to Jermon Bushrod if he’s healthy.
Linebacker D.J. Williams also practiced Monday as he continues to battle back from a calf injury, but it would be surprising if he sees much playing time Sunday as rookie Jon Bostic has emerged as the starter while Williams has been out. Still, Trestman continues to call the battle between Williams and Bostic a competition, so there could be shuffling down the road.
“Every day when we practice it really looks the way it looked in training camp and it looked in OTAs,” Trestman said about Williams, who is still considered day-to-day. “So we get a competitive environment between 1s on 1s and you get the games. So I think it’s an on-going competition.”
Bengals Prep Begins
Monday is traditionally a light day following a game during the regular season, so the Bears had a shorter practice with very little game plan installation.
“We did do some preliminary installation for Cincinnati, but we didn’t install the entire game plan or even the entire first-down package,” Trestman said. “We did get started with the guys to leave them some information and some video to spend their day off working on.”
Tuesday is the normal NFL-mandated off day before the in-depth installation begins on Wednesday.
– With the 53-man roster set, a number of rookies were able to change their numbers now that the regular season is here. Linebacker Khaseem Green is now 59, defensive end Cornelius Washington is 94 and defensive tackle Zach Minter is 96. Meanwhile, defensive end David Bass, who was added to the 53-man roster Sunday from the Oakland Raiders, is wearing No. 91. Tight end Dante Rosario, who the Bears traded for Monday from the Dallas Cowboys, was assigned No. 88.
– Tight end Martellus Bennett and rookie right guard Kyle Long are two of the more talkative jokesters on the team and now their lockers are right next to each other at Halas Hall. Before Monday, the rookies’ lockers were downstairs from the main locker room, so Long and the rest of the rookies who made the team were allowed to move into the main clubhouse Monday.
– Quarterback Jerrod Johnson, who the Bears signed to their practice squad Sunday after a workout last week at Halas Hall, is considered a “developmental quarterback” by general manager Phil Emery.