Chicago Sun-Times

October 2007 Archives

MLB Brian Urlacher was wearing a floppy hat, not a helmet for Wednesday's practice at Halas Hall, the first of two workouts scheduled for the bye week.

So much for rolling into the bye week with some momentum. Instead, the Bears enter with a thud and have twice as much time to contemplate how they arrived here at 3-5.

One of the more worn-out cliches in the league is that you’re never as good as you think you are when the tape is reviewed, and you’re never as bad as you think you are. It’s true. So the Bears will dissect the 16-7 loss to the Detroit Lions today at Halas Hall and determine there were small factors here and there that collaborated to create a humiliating performance against a Lions team that had closely resembled the Washington Generals away from Ford Field since Matt Millen took over as general manager in 2001.

Pregame: Vasher still out

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CB Nathan Vasher will miss his fifth straight game with a partially torn groin muscle.

He is listed as inactive along with QB Kyle Orton, RB Garrett Wolfe, S Brandon McGowan, FB Lousaka Polite, LB Darrell McClover, G Josh Beekman and WR Mike Hass.

DT Anthony Adams remains in the starting lineup with Darwin Walker playing in a backup role after missing the last two games with a sprained left knee.

Walker running in pregame

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DT Darwin Walker, who has missed the last two games with a sprained left knee, is doing some sprinting on the field with hopes of playing today.

Vasher returns to practice

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CB Nathan Vasher participated in portions of Friday's practice for the first time since he torn his groin muscle against Dallas in Week 3.

Friday practice update

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CB Nathan Vasher was stretching with teammates during special teams drills and it appeared like he might be returning to practice for the first time since he partially tore his groin muscle vs. Dallas Sept. 23.

We'll get an update on his status following the game.

Mailbag Vol. IV -- answers

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Rolling through a handful of questions before we head out to see who’s on the field and who’s not at the Friday practice. Send in your queries and we’ll do our best to get them answered next week during the bye.

Q: Kyle Orton played well two years ago, only to be benched. I think he’d make a more viable option than Brian Griese. What do you think from seeing the team every day?

Adam D., Parts Unknown

Adam: After watching Griese lead the Bears back in the fourth quarter at Philadelphia, I think it’s fair to say he’s the best option for the Bears right now. As far as Orton’s development, that is the great unknown. He didn’t get a lot of chances in the preseason, and how can you really judge the guy playing with third-teamers? He’s got little talent to work with and he’s going against guys with little talent. We don’t get to digest much of practice each day, in fact just a little bit more than stretching. I can tell you this: Orton has gotten more serious about his career in the last year and has handled everything like a pro. His contract runs through next season and he’s anxious for a chance somewhere, here or elsewhere. With Rex Grossman expected to depart following the season, Orton could go into 2008 as the No. 2 with an eye toward free agency.

RT Fred Miller returned to the practice field Thursday after missing Wednesday with an ankle injury.

DT Tommie Harris
(left hamstring) was also back to work.

Sidelined were S Brandon McGowan (right elbow), who is no longer constrained by a sling. DE Alex Brown (undisclosed) was also out.

Nothing botherin' Urlacher

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Brian Urlacher's press conferences have generated enough interest recently that we'll just put it all out there for you to digest for yourself.

A look at the full Q&A from today at Halas Hall:

CB Nathan Vasher, who has missed the last four games with a partially torn groin muscle, has his helmet out at practice today, the best sign we've seen from him in a month.

Vasher probably will not do much, and it looked like he was preparing to basically work on the side with trainers while the rest of the team stretched, but he should return soon. Whether or not he faces the Lions on Sunday at Soldier Field remains to be seen. Vasher could get an extra two weeks of rest with the bye following.

Stockton vacation

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For the first time in what seems like a long time, Dick Stockton and Brian Baldinger will not handle the TV duties for Fox during the Bears' game.

Bears' rally to be re-aired

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For the third straight week, the Bears will have their game re-aired on NFL Network.

It is as expected at right cornerback as rookie seventh-round pick Trumaine McBride will make his second start of the season with Nathan Vasher missing his fourth game with a torn groin muscle.

But defensive tackle Darwin Walker will not face his former team. He is inactive for the second week with a sprained left knee, meaning Anthony Adams will start again. The Bears need all the help they can get going against Eagles running back Brian Westbrook.

Inactives below:

Defensive tackle Darwin Walker is expected to make his way back on to the field Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field after missing a game with a sprained left knee. Nothing spoke more loudly about Walker’s value than the 311 rushing yards the Minnesota Vikings rolled to in his absence.

Walker spent the last six seasons in an Eagles uniform before he was traded to Buffalo and then here when his contract situation became an obstacle for the Bills. In dealing Walker, Philadelphia picked up weak-side linebacker Takeo Spikes, who has been steady yet unspectacular. Still, the deal has worked out for the Eagles. Walker was going to lose his starting job to Brodrick Bunkley, and in dealing a backup who had the potential to be unhappy if he remained, they received a starter in a position that has been revamped.


LB Brian Urlacher is practicing on a Friday for the first time since Week 1, dispelling the notion his back is bothering him.

DT's Darwin Walker (left knee) and Tommie Harris (left hamstring) were also practicing.

Urlacher took exception to a line of questioning about his health on Thursday. He had been listed probable on the injury report in Weeks 2 through 6 with a back injury. Maybe it's cleared up.

Thursday's practice update

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The Bears are getting healthier. DT Tommie Harris (hamstring) returned to practice at Halas Hall, leaving CB Nathan Vasher as the only player to sit out.

Mailbag Vol. III -- answers

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The referee has thrown the flag and I’ve been whistled for a five-yard penalty—delay of game. More like delay of Q&A. So without putting this task off any further, we’ll jump into the questions and comments that were selected. Keep them coming.

It’s been since before the Green Bay game that we came with answers, so here we go:

Brian Urlacher has played every Sunday, so there is not anything wrong with him.

That’s the point the Bears’ middle linebacker drove home with the Philadelphia media during a conference call Wednesday afternoon.

Wednesday practice update

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DT Tommie Harris is sitting out practice with his sprained left knee and tweaked hamstring. CB Nathan Vasher was also sidelined with his groin pull and is not expected to play this week.

There was good news, though.

Berrian signs with Rosenhaus

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Wide receiver Bernard Berrian has officially signed with high-profile agent Drew Rosenhaus, becoming the fifth Bear since 2004 to switch to the Miami-based agent while on the team. This news, according to NFLPA documents.

The book on Benson

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The book is out on Bears running back Cedric Benson, and it’s been well circulated, at least as far as one defensive coordinator can see.

Benson plodded along again Sunday in the 34-31 loss to Minnesota with a startling difference evident between the No. 4 pick in 2005 and the No. 7 selection in 2007, the Vikings’ Adrian Peterson. What makes it more stinging is it’s a comparison the Bears are going to have to live with twice a year for seasons to come.

Help available: Ian Scott

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Provided his balky left knee is healed up, ex-Bear Ian Scott is free to sign with another team now.

Scott had knee problems when he was with the Bears, undergoing arthroscopic surgery in August 2006, and lingering issues kept him from ever competing for a job with this Sunday’s opponent, the Eagles.

Defensive stats released

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You might have thought it was just a bad rumor the Bears had tackles in Sunday's 34-31 loss to Minnesota. But following review of the game film by the coaching staff, LB Lance Briggs was credited with a team-high 10 tackles, six of them solos.

Stockton overdrive

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On the call for the game this coming Sunday at Philadelphia for Fox ... Dick Stockton and Brian Baldinger.

If you happened to miss it or actually want to sit through it again, NFL Network will replay Sunday's 34-31 loss to Minnesota. Adrian Peterson broke Chuck Foreman's 31-year old Minnesota mark of 200 rushing yards in one game by going for 224. It was the most the Bears have ever surrendered to an oppsing back.

Picking up the pieces

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There will be plenty of elements from Sunday's bewildering 34-31 loss to Minnesota to dissect from just about every angle. Players should be released from meetings starting in about an hour, and Lovie Smith will address the situation at 3 p.m.

LB Jamar Williams was taken to the locker room to have his ribs examined after being injured on the kickoff coverage following Bernard Berrian's touchdown, WBBM AM-780 reports. Williams is questionable to return.

If he’s making a final recruiting trip for wide receiver Bernard Berrian, Drew Rosenhaus wasn’t saying as he stood against the outside of Soldier Field Sunday morning.

Approached by the Sun-Times at 10:30 a.m., Rosenhaus declined comment on the story in Sunday’s edition that said Berrian will hire Rosenhaus this coming week after termination papers go through on his firing of Maximum Sports Management and Roosevelt Barnes.

Lineup changes

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As expected, the Vikings will start Tarvaris Jackson at quarterback. Anthony Herrera will also replace Artis Hicks at right guard for Minnesota.

For the Bears, Anthony Adams will get his first start in place of Darwin Walker, who has a sprained left knee. Once again, Danieal Manning will start at right corner in place of Nathan Vasher. Brandon McGowan is starting again at free safety.

Inactives

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LT John Tait and WR Bernard Berrian will start today vs. Minnesota after missing practice until Friday. CB Charles Tillman, who had a rib injury disclosed on the injury report on Friday, will also start.

Alert for Cubs fans

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On the call for Fox for Sunday's game will be play-by-play man Dick Stockton. He's partnered with analyst Brian Baldinger.

LT John Tait (sprained right ankle) and WR Bernard Berrian (sprained right toe) returned to practice for the first time this week, an indication both should be able to suit up Sunday vs. Minnesota. Also back to practice was DT Tommie Harris (sprained left knee).

Mailbag, Vol. III

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Send in your questions and we'll post answers this weekend.

Hug it out

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The Vikings are going to battle with themselves in preparation for Sunday's meeting with the Bears at Soldier Field.

DE Erasmus James and RB Chester Taylor got into a scuffle in the locker room following Wednesday's practice that prompted a team meeting called by coach Brad Childress.

Taylor's right eye is reportedly black, the result of a punch thrown by James. The upshot of the whole deal is James is now on the injury report with a shoulder problem. No one knows if it came from the altercation. Things reportedly ended when Taylor heaved a chair at Taylor and inadvertently hit LT Bryant McKinnie. That's the kind of accuracy you expect from QB Tarvaris Jackson, if anyone.

Special teams ace Brendon Ayanbadejo joined the list of injured as he sat out practice Thursday with a foot issue. It's believed he will play Sunday.

LB Lance Briggs joined the injured players whon sat out Thursday's practice. We'll get more information later, but it's probably just to rest his hamstring which kept him out of 1 1/2 games.

It doesn't matter to Brian Urlacher which quarterback Minnesota coach Brad Childress ultimately chooses for Sunday's game at Soldier Field.

Popular thinking is Tarvaris Jackson will get the call after missing the last two games with a groin injury. But he's not 100 percent, and that would take away from one of his greatest assets. Kelly Holcomb hardly shined when given his opportunity. The Vikings have gone as far as their running game has carried them.

Playing for a contract

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CB Nathan Vasher knows what it's like to be on the field playing for a contract. Vasher made it clear he wanted a new deal before last season began, and then went out and put together a solid season. LB Lance Briggs is in the position of having to put together a second contract season to get a big payday -- one that now could come from the Bears if things work out.

Wednesday practice update

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Mark Bradley's no longer sitting No. 5 on the depth chart.

He was running with the first team during portions of the beginning of Wednesday's practice at Halas Hall with WR Bernard Berrian sidelined with his right toe injury.

LB Lance Briggs said despite some definitive statements in the offseason that he wanted out, he's willing to return to the Bears if they come forward with the long-term extension he and his agent Drew Rosenhaus are seeking.

Re-live the victory

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For those who did not TiVo the win over Green Bay Sunday night, it will be on the air again.

NFL Network will re-air the game Wednesday at 7 p.m. At 9:30, the network will show the wild Dallas-Buffalo game from Monday.

NFL Replay highlights the five most exciting games from the weekend, re-broadcasting them in a fast-paced 90-minute format on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday evenings. The contests air minus halftime and other elements not critical to the outcome.

Lovie Smith had an interesting explanation for why he's opposed to the adage that you never take points off the board.

"Normally, when you get field goals instead of touchdowns, they come back to haunt you," he said.

Smith took Robbie Gould's 36-yard field goal off the board Sunday night at Lambeau Field and the Bears wound up punching the ball in the end zone two plays later.

One more reason why he made the move? Gould hit from 36 and he would have made a shorter kick, if necessary, following the penalty against Corey Williams for lining up over long snapper Pat Mannelly. Gould is 8-for-9 this season with the only miss coming on a block. Now for the penalty itself ... it looked questionable. Williams was at an angle. The Packers have said they intend to bring it to the attention of the league.

WLB Lance Briggs recorded a career-high 19 tackles in Sunday's victory at Green Bay.

Following review of film by coaches, he was credited with 15 solo stops and four assists. His previous career high was 16 last season at Arizona.

DT Walker down

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Darwin Walker appears to have a left knee injury. He's walking off the field gingerly, which is a good sign, but if there is one position this team cannot take any more injuries at, it would be here.

Secondary tweak

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Brandon McGowan's performance at Detroit last week when he led the team with 13 tackles probably played a factor in the reworked secondary.

He is slated to start at free safety, the fifth start of his career. McGowan started last week at strong safety when Adam Archuleta missed the game with a broken right hand.

Worthy viewing

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In the press box, there are large signs with the initials "TP" and "JA" just below where Bears president Ted Phillips and general manager Jerry Angelo are to sit.

The signs are for the NBC cameras to get the right person during the telecast.

Here are some others to look for: big Bears fan Ashton Kutcher is said to be in attendance with wife Demi Moore. Also at Lambeau Field tonight, Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel. No word on whether or not a wardrobe malfunction is planned for Biel.

Briggs, Tillman to start

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LB Lance Briggs and CB Charles Tillman are both active and expected to start after missing last week's game at Detroit.

LT John Tait is out with a sprained right ankle and will be replaced by John St. Clair.

Tank hoping to roll early

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It looks like ex-Bear Tank Johnson is up to his good behavior shtick again. According to the Dallas Morning News, Johnson is attending counseling sessions at the Dallas Cowboys' facility with the hope of being able to persuade commissioner Roger Goodell to allow him to return after just a six-game suspension which would make Johnson eligible to play in two weeks.

In the era of free agency, it’s difficult for franchises to keep more than about 15 core players locked up. Simple math related to the salary cap dictates that. So, teams have to make difficult decisions about what players they should keep from year to year, even proven key starters. As general manager Jerry Angelo pointed out before, prior to the cap the Dallas Cowboys began their run in the early 1990’s with about 30-35 core players. Owner Jerry Jones dipped into his wallet and made it happen.

So, there’s a good deal of roster turnover from year to year, and sometimes you can’t always keep your own players as you would like. The Bears certainly wish linebacker Rosevelt Colvin had never left. But that hasn’t been part of the problem for the Bears in terms of developing—and keeping—their own offensive talent. As a supplement to the column in today’s edition, we look at how the Bears have only three starters in tonight’s game at Green Bay that were drafted by the organization—center Olin Kreutz, running back Cedric Benson and wide receiver Bernard Berrian. Kreutz was a third-round pick in 1998, four drafts before Angelo came on board from Tampa Bay. Angelo has presided over the last six Bears’ drafts.

An in-depth look:

It was just a matter of time. Don’t look now but your No. 3 quarterback Kyle Orton is gaining popularity, rapidly. From Kyle to the shotgun, the safeties and offensive linemen, plenty of queries came in. We sorted through and have answers. Keep the questions coming for next week.


Q: I agree we all should be more patient, but after being a Bear fan since 1961, and seeing seemingly year after year less than adequate play at QB, it becomes frustrating. Orton was thrown in as rookie and basically told not to lose the game. The result being a division title. When he was a Senior at Purdue, he was a leading candidate for the Heisman until he was hurt. I’ll be patient, but don’t you think just once a QB could fall into our laps, such as Tom Brady did with the Patriots or Tony Romo in Dallas?

Ted
Parts Unknown


Ted: Who’s saying Orton will not develop into Brady or Romo? How he has developed with a year-plus now to sit and watch will be interesting to see when his opportunity finally comes. Let’s give Brian Griese an opportunity to show what he can do before we all clamor for the QB turnstile to click once again. But guys like Brady and Romo don’t just come around. Brady was a sixth-round pick and the Patriots had no clue what they had in him until his chance came. Romo went undrafted. Scouting is an inexact science after all.

More follow:

Scouting the Packers

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While no one expected the Bears to be 1-3 at this point in the season, you’re not going to find anyone not wearing a foam cheesehead that would have predicted Green Bay would be 4-0 a month into the season. Certainly signs pointed to things turning the corner for Mike McCarthy in his second season, specifically the Packers’ close to the 2006 season when they won four straight.

No scouts are getting excited about Green Bay’s 4-0 record as they are the perfect starts in New England or Dallas, but you can’t poke too many holes in an unbeaten team that has certainly built a nice cushion for itself. A closer look at Green Bay:

Payne undergoes surgery

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Rookie S Kevin Payne had successful surgery to repair his broken right arm.

The fifth-round pick from Louisiana-Monroe was injured in a spot start last Sunday at Detroit and is expected to fully recover well in advance of the offseason program.

The Bears got a boost on the practice field Friday at Halas Hall as LB Lance Briggs (hamstring) and CB Charles Tillman returned to practice.

While it's not a given they will play Sunday at Lambeau Field, it's certainly an encouraging sign as both have been out since the Dallas game.

NFL fines Graham $7,500

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Rookie CB Corey Graham will be playing for about half pay this Sunday.

Graham's check was light $7,500 this week as the NFL fined him for a horse-collar tackle of returner Troy Walters in Detroit.

Beating the press

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WR Rashied Davis and CB Charles Tillman were two of the last players off the practice field on Wednesday.

While Tillman sat out the practice, he did some individual work with Davis that didn't involve anything that would jeopardize his sprained right ankle.

Davis and Tillman worked on hand punches. It's a drill you see offensive linemen do a lot, something ex-Steelers lineman Tunch Ilkin is credited with popularizing.

Thursday practice update

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DT Tommie Harris (left knee) returned to the practice field on Thursday.

Also back was S Brandon McGowan (shoulder).

CB Charles Tillman was taped up and ready to go Wednesday, but that didn't mean he participated in practice. Tillman, however, did test out his sprained right ankle with some running on the side. It's something LB Lance Briggs (hamstring) did also.

Free-agent Leonard Peters was officially signed to the practice squad today after the safety from Hawaii passed his physical. More on the injured players later on.

LT John Tait was sidelined when practice began Wednesday. He suffered a high right ankle sprain last week.

Also missing were DT Tommie Harris (left knee), CB Nathan Vasher (groin), RB Adrian Peterson, who had a calf injury last week.

LB Lance Briggs
(hamstring) was being held out and S Brandon McGowan is out with an unknown injury.

There was good news:

So losing NFC special teams player of the week honors to Arizona's Steve Breaston wasn't so bad after all.

Devin Hester was named the NFC special teams player of the month for September.

There is justice after all.

Hester robbed

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When you start talking about handing out awards, especially for weekly performances, you're getting into a real subjective area.

But how Devin Hester was not named the NFC special teams player of the week for his performance at Detroit on Sunday is beyond this writer. An inquiry should be starterd.

Hester racked up 314 return yards, second in league history behind only New Orleans' Tyrone Hughes, who had 347 in 1994 vs. the Los Angeles Rams. Hester scored on a 97-yard kickoff return, his seventh career kick return touchdown, bringing him within six of Brian Mitchell's all-time record.

Leonard Peters, an undrafted free agent from Hawaii, is expected to join the Bears practice squad Wednesday provided he passes a physical.

Mailbag, Vol. II

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E-mail in your questions for this week and I will have answers up later in the week.

Roster move official

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As reported here Monday, the Bears officially promoted rookie safety Josh Gattis to the 53-man roster.

Gattis takes the place of Kevin Payne, who was placed on injured reserve with a broken right arm. Payne may require surgery, but is expected to make a full recovery for participation in the offseason program.

"There is a lot that is similar [in terms of the cover-two scheme] here to what I played in college," said Gattis, who was informed of the promotion Monday.

Here's something the Bears found out about their injury-depleted secondary at Detroit: S Brandon McGowan can play.

When the coaches finished tabulating the defensive statistics after film review Monday, McGowan led the team with 13 tackles, nine of which were solos. That's a promising sign for a unit that could potentially be without veteran Adam Archuleta again Sunday at Green Bay.

The Bears terminated the contract of FB Obafemi Ayanbadejo on Monday, the day he was eligible to return from the reserve/suspended list.

The Bears have promoted safety Josh Gattis to the 53-man roster from the practice squad.

He will take the place of Kevin Payne, who broke his right arm Sunday in Detroit. Payne is going on injured reserve. More to come later.

Payne has broken arm

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Rookie safety Kevin Payne has a broken right arm, the Sun-Times has learned.

Payne was injured in Sunday's loss at Detroit and left Ford Field with his arm in a sling.

Prime-time bumping?

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Don't look now, but could NBC give the Bears the boot from prime time? The Nov. 18 game at Seattle is the first weekend in which the network has flexible scheduling.

According to the NFLPA, the Bears can get a one-week exemption for FB Obafemi Ayanbadejo, who is eligible to come off the suspended list today.

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This page is an archive of entries from October 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

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