Brandon Manumaleuna sidelined following knee scope

LAKE FOREST, Ill.--One of the pitfalls in spending big on free agents on the wrong side of 30 is the possibility of getting players who are beginning to break down.

The Bears are not concerned that is happening with Brandon Manumaleuna, not when you consider the veteran tight end has not missed a game in four seasons and has been held out of only two games in nine years.

But nonetheless one of the prizes from their big splash in free agency is on the sideline for minicamp, which began this morning. Manumaleuna underwent arthropscopic knee surgery five weeks ago and is fully expected to be 100 percent before training camp. Without him available, veterans Greg Olsen and Desmond Clark are getting more work in Mike Martz’s new offense.

Manumaleuna, who signed a $15 million, five-year contract with $6.1 million guaranteed, has dealt with some irritation in the knee over the last few years and had it drained twice in 2009. The doctors looked at it and made the determination that a minor cleanout would eliminate some of the maintenance he’s been forced to do with the knee.

He isn’t the only player sidelined. Wide receiver Earl Bennett, who also had arthroscopic knee surgery, hasn’t been cleared for a full return. He’s doing some drills on the side. Center Olin Kreutz, a six-time Pro Bowl performer, remains sidelined as he recovers from surgery to repair his Achilles tendon in January. The National Football Post reported the recovery time was four to six months, and Kreutz remains in that window for a comeback with the expectation that he will be ready for training camp.

Defensive tackle Tommie Harris, who has been given frequent time off in the past, will only practice once per day. The Bears have double sessions today and Saturday.

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