Chicago Sun-Times

November 2007 Archives

Cornerback Nathan Vasher was suited up for practice for the third consecutive day at Halas Hall, improving the chances further he will play Sunday for the first time in more than two months. Vasher has been working his way back from a partially torn groin muscle.

Benson by the numbers

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The Sun-Times reported that Cedric Benson underwent successful surgery on his fractured left leg Thursday. The operation was performed by team physicians Armen Kelikian and Mark Bowen.

The injury comes at a bad time for Benson, who finished the season with 674 rushing yards. Had he gained 27 more yards—or less than three extra yards per game this season—he would have triggered a conditional roster bonus in his contract in the amount of $1.73 million. It’s lost money now for the running back.

Thursday injury report

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As reported earlier, DT Tommie Harris (left knee), LB Lance Briggs (knee) and WR Devin Hester (foot) returned to practice in a limited fashion Thursday.

Thursday's practice update

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Right tackle Fred Miller remained out of Thursday's practice with a sprained right ankle.

The good news is that cornerback Nathan Vasher (groin) was on the field for practice for the second consecutive day.

Had some more interesting information in regards to right tackle Fred Miller that did not make the print edition, so I’ll complement that piece here:

There are plenty who have been calling for the replacement of Miller, who has a sprained right ankle and could be replaced by veteran John St. Clair in Sunday’s game against the New York Giants. The right tackle is going to square off against future Hall of Fame defensive end Michael Strahan. Coach Lovie Smith made it clear Miller was the starter when healthy.

Miller is 34 and is earning $3 million this season with his base pay going up to $4 million in 2008. Miller’s salary-cap figure for ’08 is $5.8 million, a lot of money for an aging lineman. But you’re going to have to spend money to replace him, and skilled linemen who aren’t injury risks are hard to find. General manager Jerry Angelo doesn’t have a track record of success drafting offensive linemen, either. The Bears have gotten just 30 starts out of linemen drafted by Angelo.

Wednesday injury report

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Bears -- did not practice

LB Lance Briggs knee
DT Tommie Harris knee
KR/PR Devin Hester foot
RT Fred Miller right ankle

Limited participation

CB Nathan Vasher groin

The optimism Lovie Smith had Monday, or slipped with on Monday came through Wednesday as cornerback Nathan Vasher returned to practice Wednesday at Halas Hall. We'll find out what the report on him is afterward, and see if he can repeat the activity on Thursday.

With the NFC's biggest game of the year -- Green Bay at Dallas Thursday night -- siphoned off by the NFL Network, the Bears-Giants game at 3:15 p.m. Sunday at Soldier Field.

Devin Hester was named the NFC's special teams player of the week for the third time this season following his two-touchdown effort against Denver.

The Bears made an additional move Tuesday that was not announced by the organization.

Fullback Quadtrine Hill was placed on waivers. Hill was waived/injured on Aug. 29 with a back injury after being signed during training camp. He reverted to the injured reserve when he cleared waivers, and rehabilitated the injury.

Running back Cedric Benson was officially placed on injured reserve Tuesday afternoon, opening a roster space on the team. Soon he will undergo surgery on his fractured left leg.

The Bears also made two other moves, releasing safety Brandon Sharp from the practice squad after one week. Taking his place was offensive tackle Ryan Gibbons. The Northeastern product was on the practice squad of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers earlier this season after spending training camp with the Jacksonville Jaguars, and sitting on their practice squad for the first three weeks.

Gibbons was undrafted in 2006 and spent nearly the entire season on the Jaguars practice squad. He was with Hamburg in NFL Europa.

Mailbag, Vol. VI

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It's been a little too long since our last entry, but two red eye trips back from the West Coast and a holiday in between has shortened our weeks. We'll get back on schedule for the stretch run, so keep the inquiries coming.

Q: Where is Corey Dillon? Isn’t he available? Tiki Barber might come out of retirement for a real chance to win a title.

Tyree T., Chicago

Tyree: I’d assume Dillon is kicking back with the phone nearby waiting to hear from the New England Patriots. While Dillon’s agent Steve Feldman told the Sun-Times in September that his client would be interested in joining the Bears, the team wasn’t seeking any help at the time. When I checked with Feldman earlier this month, he said Dillon no longer had an interest in the Bears.

And that change of heart has nothing to do with the changing weather. Dillon would gladly return to the undefeated New England Patriots for another run at a Super Bowl ring. They might not need him, though. As far as Barber goes, his agent also told the Sun-Times back in September that Tiki was quite happy as a talking head these days.

The Bears may still bring a running back in with Cedric Benson lost for the season, but they were in no rush to make that move Monday, and it’s almost a guarantee anyone they do bring in will not be a household name. Many teams operate with only four backs and that’s what the Bears have now with backup fullback Lousaka Polite expected to dress for Sunday’s game vs. the Giants for the first time this season.

Plank out to tackle NIU job

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Had an interesting conversation with Doug Plank on Monday afternoon after Joe Novak’s retirement at Northern Illinois was announced. Plank mentioned earlier this season he was interested in exploring a head-coaching position at the college ranks when he was in town to cover a Bears game for Sports USA Radio Network.

Plank has been the head coach of the Georgia Force in the Arena Football League for the last three seasons. He’s won more games in that span than any coach in a three-year stretch in league history and twice has been named coach of the year.

The former Bears safety had some interesting ideas. Here’s a portion of the interview:

League sources indicate that no roster move is imminent for the Bears. Word is the Bears are saying they are not going to take any action this week.

It could be that the organization wants to wait and compile more medical information in regards to Cedric Benson's left ankle. The Bears also might want to bring in a few candidates for tryouts before charting a course.

With an update on the condition of running back Cedric Benson possible later on today, it’s not too early to start considering options to replace him.

Benson’s left ankle was rolled badly in the second quarter of the win over Denver, and he told the Sun-Times following the game that he was to have it re-evaluated downtown this morning. Benson is expected to miss the remainder of the season. A knee sprain sidelined the former No. 4 overall pick for six games in 2005, and then the time he was on the shelf during training camp in 2006 with a shoulder injury cost him any chance of unseating Thomas Jones.

It will be interesting to see how the Bears proceed if and when the determination is made that Benson will be placed on injured reserve. By moving Adrian Peterson into the starting position, it takes a key performer from the special teams unit, an area Garrett Wolfe has been pitching in on more and more lately.

Just as there is no shortage of storylines coming out of the Bears’ dramatic 37-34 overtime stunner Sunday evening at Soldier Field, there is no shortage of 5-6 teams in the NFC.

With the Philadelphia Eagles finally succumbing to New England in the NBC nightcap, six teams are mired at 5-6 in the Second Division, or whatever you want to call the NFC. Dallas and Green Bay meet Thursday night in Big D with superiority in the NFC on the line. The rest of the bunch is a giant mess right now.

The Bears, of course, are in that pile of teams a game behind the Detroit Lions (6-5). The Bears are actually two back of the Lions because they would lose a tiebreaker to them as Detroit swept the regular-season series.

Bears-Broncos inactives

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Brian Griese has reassumed his role as the backup quarterback to Rex Grossman.

And Ricky Manning Jr. will start at right cornerback instead of Trumaine McBride, who was slowed this week in practice with a hip injury. McBride is still active for the game.

Also, as reported earlier Andre Hall will replace Selvin Young (knee) as the Broncos starting running back.

One source said it is likely the Broncos make RB Selvin Young inactive for today's game, meaning Andre Hall will make his first NFL start.

Friday practice update

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DT Tommie Harris (left knee) was not suited up for practice at the start of the session Friday at Halas Hall. With the snow gone, the team moved back outside. It's still likely Harris will start Sunday.

From the Dept. of Redundancy Department, CB Nathan Vasher (groin) remained out.

The good news was WR Bernard Berrian (toe), FB Jason McKie (right foot) and CB Trumaine McBride (hip) were all suited up for practice.

More updates later in the afternoon.

Thanksgiving practice update

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From the looks of the stretching exercises at the beginning of Thursday's practice, DT Tommie Harris may try to do a little work on his injured left knee. The Bears are practicing in the Walter Payton Center, though, and the team has been cautious using him on artificial surface.

LB Lance Briggs, who missed Wednesday with a knee injury, also looked to be back to work along with CB Ricky Manning Jr., who was out ill Wednesday.

Wednesday practice update II

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The following players were held out of Wednesday's practice in the rain at Halas Hall:

WR Bernard Berrian (toe)
LB Lance Briggs (knee)
DT Tommie Harris (left knee)
CB Ricky Manning Jr. (illness)
CB Trumaine McBride (hip)
FB Jason McKie (foot)
CB Nathan Vasher (groin)

Coach Lovie Smith said all but Harris and Vasher should return to practice Thursday.

QB Brian Griese (left shoulder) did participate in all of practice.

Smith also said when Griese is healthy he will be the No. 2 quarterback.

The bitter weather, rain and wind didn't prevent the Bears from practicing outside today.

DT Tommie Harris (left knee) and CB Nathan Vasher (groin) were not on the field. It also appeared that CB's Trumaine McBride (undisclosed) and Ricky Manning Jr. (undisclosed) were sidelined. That would leave perhaps rookie Corey Graham as the starter in practice.

Bears make Roach move official

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As reported first here in this space on Tuesday, the Bears signed rookie linebacker Nick Roach to the 53-man roster today.

Roach was signed off the practice squad of the San Diego Chargers as cornerback Ade Jimoh was finally placed on injured reserve with a fractured collarbone.

That wasn't the only move the team made. Safety Brandon Sharp was signed to fill out the practice squad. Sharp, an undrafted free agent from Louisville, spent time with tthe Tennessee Titans. The Jacksonville, Fla., native made 25 starts at Louisville.

The Sun-Times has confirmed an earlier report that Nick Roach will become a Bear after he passes a physical. The team is expected to make an announcement later today or Wednesday.

The former Northwestern product was flying here from San Diego this afternoon after agreeing to sign a multi-year contract. He will take the place of cornerback Ade Jimoh on the 53-man roster, and could be contributing on special teams soon.

The Sun-Times has learned Tuesday morning that the Bears are attempting to sign former Northwestern linebacker Nick Roach off the practice squad of the San Diego Chargers to fill their roster.

Special teams performer Ade Jimoh will miss the remainder of the season with a broken collarbone suffered on a punt return in the second quarter of Sunday's loss at Seattle.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is taking in his first Bears' game since Super Bowl XLI. Of course, it didn't work out so well the last time he showed up to watch them.

Orton serving as No. 2 QB

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Kyle Orton will serve as the No. 2 quarterback for the first time since the playoffs following the 2005 season.

Brian Griese, who suffered a minor sprain of the AC joint in his non-throwing left shoulder, has been moved down to No. 3. Griese practiced some on Wednesday and participated in all of Friday's workout, but the call went to Orton.

No word yet on backup QB

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Brian Griese and Kyle Orton are both on the field warming up here more than two hours before kickoff.

The duo usually practices the lost art of drop kicking and that is the case again. Griese is usually a little more accurate, but he's yet to pull a Doug Flutie during a game.

Check back in a while for the inactive list when we'll find out who is backing up Rex Grossman.

Defensive tackle Tommie Harris remained sidelined for Friday's practice at Halas Hall with what has been listed as a left knee injury.

Harris' knee was injured when he was leg whipped by Dallas' Marc Colombo in Week 3, and has been a lingering issue for him as well as his surgically repaired left knee. Harris has more or less been playing on one leg this season and is tied with Adewale Ogunleye for the team lead with seven sacks.

Harris has yet to practice this week.

Linebacker Lance Briggs has been difficult to pin down much this season, but he visited with Sirius NFL Radio on Tuesday on "The Afternoon Blitz."

Here are some highlights:

Host, Adam Schein: “When you take a look at this season for the Chicago Bears has it entered your mind, in terms of a possibility, that this is your last season in Chicago?”

Lance Briggs: “Every day. Every day I wake up. Every day I go out to practice. Every day I laugh with my teammates and my coaches and the people of Chicago I know that this could possibly be the last go-around with Chicago. But it’s been that way for the last couple of years that I’ve been here.”

Thursday practice update

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Brian Griese was wearing his helmet at the start of Thursday's practice, a good sign he will be participating in at least portions of the workout.

CB Nathan Vasher, who has missed the last six games, was also stretching as if he was going to participate.

The Bears’ trip to Seattle for Sunday’s game could be an opportunity for Brian Urlacher to catch up with his extended family. While stories of his upbringing in Lovington, N.M., abound, the middle linebacker was born in Pasco, Wash., about a 3 1/2-hour drive from Seattle.

Urlacher participated in a conference call with Seahawks media on Wednesday. A look:

(On this season…) “We’re turning it around a little bit, we played a little better last week. It’s not as bad as it seems I guess.”

(On how many people are coming to watch him…) “I really don’t know, I haven’t got that many phone calls. I talked to a couple of my uncles and my cousins, beyond that I’m not sure. Sometimes they come out here now and watch us play at Soldier Field so maybe it’s getting old, I don’t know, maybe it’s too long of a trip.”

A scoring error in the Bears-Raiders game has taken Cedric Benson's career-high 29 carries down a notch.

LeVoir snatched by Rams

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On the day the Bears added guard Mike Jones to the practice squad, they lost offensive tackle Mark LeVoir to the St. Louis Rams.

Bears coach Lovie Smith announced following practice that Rex Grossman would be the starting quarterback for Sunday's game at Seattle.

Brian Griese revealed that he is suffering from a sprained AC joint in his right shoulder, and said that he expects to be available to play Sunday.

You would have to think that with cornerback Nathan Vasher (partially torn groin muscle) on the sideline for Wednesday's practice that the veteran will now miss his seventh consecutive game.

Vasher has been sidelined for nearly two months and at this point the possibility has to exist that he could eventually land on injured reserve, especially if the Bears don't go on a winning streak soon.

It's Grossman

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Based on performance, injury or both Rex Grossman looks to be the Bears’ starting quarterback for Sunday’s game at Seattle.

The Bears (4-5) will look to climb to .500 for the first time since Week 2 with the former first-round pick at the helm based on the fact that he was with the first team during the beginning of Wednesday’s practice and Brian Griese was sidelined, recovering from a bruised left non-throwing shoulder.

The Bears filled out their practice squad by signing guard Mike Jones.

The Iowa product was an undrafted free agent in camp with San Diego before being released in August.

Big Z in the building

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No word yet on who will be under center when practice begins in about a half-hour, but there is another option at Halas Hall today, someone with a big arm.

Carlos Zambrano was walking down the hallway toward the locker room just minutes ago. Whether or not Big Z is looking for a tryout, who knows.

TV talkers

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Fox viewers will get another dose of Matt Vasgersian and J.C. Pearson on the call of Sunday's game at Seattle. Kickoff is set for 3:15 p.m.

As you might expect them to do, the Bears have ratcheted up the suspense on their quarterback situation for Sunday’s game at Seattle.

In breaking from the norm, there will be no quarterback press conference at noon, leaving the media to toss questions at an empty podium, not unlike your run-of-the-mill Brian Urlacher Q&A.

It wasn’t about playing through the pain of a right shoulder injury any longer for Ruben Brown.

After consulting with multiple doctors on his injury, he was told he had to shut it down for the remainder of the season. That was the upshot of Brown’s talk with Score morning host Mike North on Tuesday.

Yes, the Bears may have been bumped from their prime time perch by the forces that be in the league office and at NBC, but Sunday's meeting at Seattle will be telling no matter what the start time is.

Some have jumped out and declared the Bears right back in the mix of things following the comeback 17-6 victory at Oakland. It may be a little premature to do that until they put together the most modest of winning streaks -- two games -- but you certainly cannot count them out.

Sunday inactives

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No big surprises for the Bears in terms of inactives as CB Nathan Vasher will miss his sixth straight game with a partially torn groin muscle.

Also out:

third QB Kyle Orton
S Brandon McGowan
FB Lousaka Polite
LB Rod Wilson
G/C Josh Beekman
WR Mike Hass
DT Antonio Garay

The Raiders took a big hit with top cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha being sidelined with a knee injury. Chris Carr will start in his place, meaning the Raiders are likely to use a considerable amount of zone coverage.

Also out for Oakland:

third QB JaMarcus Russell
QB Andrew Walter
CB Fabian Washington
LB Sam Williams
C Jake Grove
OT Mario Henderson
DT Josh Shaw

Olin Kreutz pulled on Ruben Brown’s white No. 74 practice jersey on Friday as a tribute to injured teammate.

Brown was placed on season-ending injured reserve on Thursday with a shoulder injury that will require surgery. He had attributed a renewed passion and love for the game to playing alongside Kreutz since signing as a free agent in 2004. Kreutz’s get-up went beyond the jersey, too. He also wore a blue bandana on his head, a frequent accessory in Brown’s pigskin wardrobe.

Updating Ruben Brown

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The nine-time Pro Bowl left guard has been placed on season-ending injured reserve.

Brown has battled a shoulder injury all season, and the decision was finally made to place him on IR and turn the job over to Terrence Metcalf, who has been the heir apparent for some time.

Ruben Brown out for Sunday

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Left guard Ruben Brown will not play in Sunday's game at Oakland.

He will be replaced by Terrence Metcalf in the lineup.

Brown was held out of practice Thursday for the second consecutive day.

Thursday practice update

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WR Devin Hester returned after missing a day with an illness, but CB Nathan Vasher (groin) and DT Tommie Harris (left knee) were absent at the beginning of practice.

The chances of Vasher playing Sunday at Oakland are now nearly vanished, and while Lovie Smith insists the Bears continue to get healthier coming off their bye week, Harris skipping a second consecutive day is not a good sign.

Running back P.J. Pope was moved from the practice squad to the practice squad injured list. Pope has a chest injury.

Taking his place on the practice squad is Notre Dame defensive end Chris Frome.

Wilson expected to be fine

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LB Rod Wilson suffered what is believed to be a neck stinger in practice Wednesday.

Raiders trending downward

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Here's a stunner for you ... the struggling Oakland Raiders at 2-6 have yet to be a home underdog.

Go figure.

The Bears will be the first visitor this Sunday to enter McAfee Coliseum as the favorite, rating a three-point edge according to oddsmakers.

LB Rod Wilson put a scare into the Bears at the end of Wednesday's practice when he went down with a neck injury at Halas Hall. No word yet on how serious the injury is. Check back for news later.

Devin Hester is not at Halas Hall today to get the good news that Raiders coach Lane Kiffin has pledged to kick the ball to him.

Hester is ill and is not at the facility, one of four players to miss practice Wednesday.

CB Nathan Vasher (groin) was doing some walking around the field when practice opened. Safety Brandon McGowan (right elbow) and left guard Ruben Brown were also sidelined.

Rookie Oakland coach Lane Kiffin has no fear of Devin Hester.

None he's showing, any way.

Asked if he would kick the ball to Hester during the game Sunday in Oakland, Kiffin responded yes.

The surprising answer led media to ask for a clarification. Will he kick to Hester?

"Yes," Kiffin replied.

The NFL pulled the Bears-Seattle game on Nov. 18 out of prime time on Monday, and now the game the following week is on the move.

Mailbag Vol. V -- answers

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After a bye weekend for everyone, we jump back into the blog. Send your questions and we’ll have another round out in no time.

Q: Brian Griese has thrown more picks than TDs; fumbled three snaps in five games called out Mark Bradley for not picking up his signal against Detroit that led to, according to Griese, the free safety knowing where the ball was going, notwithstanding that his arm could not get it there; underthrew a fly to Devin Hester, who had two steps on the corner at Philly; took credit for calling the plays in the Philly game; blamed his coach for not opening up the playbook, even though he typically dumps the ball off before the receivers have broken on their routes; is a Green Bay collapse and Ed Hochuli call away from being 0-5; has said that he has never seen a team lacking leadership (shot at the captains, coaches, Rex Grossman?); and slid instead of diving for the first down against Detroit, when all needed was one more yard to the get the first down and keeping the defense on the sideline?

Not sure when you and the other media members will wake up to these facts, but this is why Mike Shanahan ran him out of Denver. It's time for you to stop trying to justify the change to Griese and report on his unique way of disrupting team chemistry and otherwise playing like a poor man's Shane Matthews.

Timothy C., Chicago

Timothy: Can you tell us how you really feel about Griese? I understand he’s played very poorly at times, there’s no other way to describe how the Detroit Lions intercept you seven times inside their own 40-yard line in two games. Take away the bulk of those and it’s probably two wins for the Bears and they’re not currently delirious in Motown with a 4-4 club.

But where would you have the Bears and Lovie Smith turn? Most of the people clamoring for Griese to go are forgetting how bad Rex Grossman was in his three starts. One touchdown. Six picks. Nine sacks. The deeper we go into the season the more apparent it is that Jerry Angelo will once again be on a quarterback of the future hunt. It’s a tired storyline in this town.

Anderson fined five large

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Jon Kitna was wrong, indeed.

The Detroit Lions quarterback lashed out at Alex Brown earlier this week accusing the Bears defensive end of a big twist on his facemask during last Sunday's game at Soldier Field. Brown told the Sun-Times he had no business in such activity.

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

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