By Chris Emma-
BOURBONNAIS (CBS) — News broke in Bears camp late Monday afternoon and spread throughout the dorms of Olivet Nazarene: Martellus Bennett was suspended indefinitely following an ugly altercation with rookie cornerback Kyle Fuller.
When the Bears’ offense lined up on Tuesday, the 6-foot-6 tight end wasn’t there. In fact, he wasn’t even on campus in Bourbonnais. Bennett was sent home from camp for an “undetermined time,” general manager Phil Emery said.
“This is a process that we’re working with Martellus,” Emery said. “We are in contact with him. Our goal is to have Martellus back as soon as possible. He’s a very loved and respected teammate, and we want him back. It’s a process we’ll have to work through.”
A hotly contested practice on Monday came to an early close when Bennett slammed Fuller to the ground, in response to a physical tackle from the cornerback. Tempers escalated, with Bennett infuriated.
More than an hour after practice, Bennett attempted to downplay the situation.
“Practice is practice,” Bennett said. “I sound like Allen Iverson. (S—) happens.”
Now, the Bears must move forward without Bennett, all while making him still welcomed within the team. It’s something coach Marc Trestman — widely known for his emphasis on chemistry — is confident in.
“We’ve got a plan and a process in place,” Trestman said. “As I told the team today, we love him, he works hard, he loves football, he’s a good father. We want to get him back as soon as we can.”
With Bennett away from the team, Zach Miller worked in with the first-team offense at tight end, but the Bears rotated Dante Rosario in, too.
Rosario was one of the first Bears to learn of Bennett’s suspension. He didn’t see the altercation as a character flaw.
“He’s a good guy,” Rosario said. “It was just a bad situation. Coach Trestman made the decision to suspend him. Hopefully we can have him back as soon as possible.”
Kromer looks to Friday
With a high-octane offense in place, offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer can feel confident about his starters in place — but he still has a lot to evaluate on the unit’s depth.
The Bears take to Soldier Field on Friday for their first preseason game and the first game-like environment to evaluate the reserve roles.
Kromer is eager to see what his offense has beyond the starting roles, but he’ll remain patient throughout the process.
“If they play well, we’re going to be talking about consistency,” Kromer said. “If they don’t play well, we’re going to be talking about improvement and getting another chance. It’s not the time or place to kick a guy off or not give them another chance if they don’t do it well on Friday night.”
The most notable battle at hand is the fight to become the Bears’ backup quarterback. Jordan Palmer is currently listed ahead of Jimmy Clausen for the second spot, but the live reps will offer a more genuine look at each player’s abilities.
It’s still very early in camp — far from the time where decisions are made — and Kromer is taking in all he can with the battle.
“All you can say there is, as time goes, as guys digest the offense, work with guys longer, they’ll continue to have more success as the month goes,” he said. “It’s a long process. We’re early in the process. We’re enjoying the process. The guys are coming out to work every day.”
Bears battling injury woes
Just shy of its first preseason game, Chicago must work around injury issues. Two more names were added to the list Tuesday; starting tackle Jordan Mills left practice with a foot injury and reserve cornerback Isaiah Frey hurt his hamstring.
Mills and Frey join a list of injured Bears that includes cornerback Tim Jennings, receiver Marquess Wilson, tackle Eben Britton and safeties Craig Steltz and Chris Conte.
In addition, defensive end Jared Allen missed his third consecutive practice, excused for a second straight day with family matters. His status for Friday’s game remains uncertain.
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