NFL

Bennett gets feisty at Bears practice

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BOURBONNAIS, Ill. (AP)

Martellus Bennett's mood changed in a hurry.

The Chicago Bears tight end on Friday went from joking and smiling to being involved in one of the bigger practice fights to break out since the team started holding training camp at Olivet Nazarene University in 2002.

''It's hot,'' Bennett said. ''I'm actually a mean person. I know you (reporters) all think I joke around all the time but I don't. I'm very aggressive. They're aggressive with me, I'm aggressive with them.

''You come hard at me, I come hard at you. It's all day. I don't back down from anything, anyone, never have.''

Bennett threw safety Major Wright to the ground during a tight end-defensive back pass blocking drill, and engaged in a shoving match with safety Chris Conte a play later.

Safety Craig Steltz intervened to stop the second one, but quickly was caught up in a shoving match with Bennett.

The drill ended. But when the team went into a full-squad scrimmage, Bennett caught a short pass near a sideline and cornerback Kelvin Hayden wrestled him to the ground hard with a high tackle near the neck.

Conte then delivered a late hit on the ground and a pile ensued, with both offensive and defensive players rushing onto the field. Bennett's helmet was knocked off in the fracas.

''It's just camp, the way things are,'' Conte said. ''But we're a family and we're brothers. Brothers sometimes fight. But you know, we get through it.''

No one was injured.

After others broke up the fight, coach Marc Trestman called the entire team around him and delivered a lecture.

''During the course of training camp, these things will happen,'' Trestman said. ''I don't think it festered, I don't think it lingered. The guys are extremely professional. We moved on to the next play.

''It became a highly competitive practice. The guys kept their composure and moved on. That's what we would expect. It's going to happen in a game where somebody's going to lose their mind.

''When one guy does, it's not who he is - he just lost his composure for a minute. The team's gotta bring him along and I thought the team did a very good job of pushing through practice and not lowering the effort, but actually the effort was raised and we finished with a very clean practice.''

The practice involved an unusual amount of hard hits compared to other practices in Trestman's first camp.

Safety Anthony Walters put rookie receiver Marquess Wilson to the turf with a big hit immediately after the initial shoving incidents, and later wide receiver Earl Bennett was knocked to the turf in the end zone.

Martellus Bennett, who also played for the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys and was signed in free agency, has become a favorite quickly with fans for his humor and candor.

He had called himself one of the most interesting players on the team earlier in the day at a news conference.

''I just like to be happy all the time,'' he added. ''Even when I'm in meetings, I'm happy and smiling.''

NOTES: Tight end Brody Eldridge and punter Austin Signor were waived and linebacker Andrew Starks, a native of Plainfield, Ill, was signed. Also free agent tight end Leonard Pope visited camp for a workout. ... Several veterans were given the day off to rest, including Julius Peppers, wide receiver Brandon Marshall and cornerback Charles Tillman. It was Marshall's second day off from practices since workouts began July 26. ... An MRI on the hip injury suffered Thursday by defensive end Corey Wootton showed no serious damage and Trestman called Wootton day to day. ... Cornerback Tim Jennings returned to camp after being excused for two personal days.

Tagged: Bears, Tim Jennings, Martellus Bennett, Earl Bennett, Chris Conte

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