Chicago Sun-Times

December 2007 Archives

Right tackle Fred Miller battled with a partially torn MCL in his right knee during the middle of the season, but had even bigger problems with a right ankle issue that forced him out of Giants game on Dec. 2. Miller is not one to miss games. It was just the second he had missed since 1998, when he started 15 games for the St. Louis Rams.

The Chicago chapter of the Pro Football Writers of America announced that linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer was selected as the Good Guy Award winner for 2007.

Hillenmeyer was chosen for his consistent and professional approach in handling the media obligations that come with the job and serves as an example for teammates to follow.

We interrupt this quarterback search—the Bears have already begun looking for their starter in 2008, right—to ring in the New Year with an issue of a different kind.

The Bears need to make a decision on what to do with veteran safety Mike Brown. The former Pro Bowl selection is signed through this next season, but it’s unknown if the organization has reached a decision on how to proceed with him after he appeared in just the season opener when he tore the ACL in his left knee.

Running back P.J. Pope became the fourth player to sign a futures contract on Monday.

Lovie Smith announced at his season-ending press conference Monday that he expects his entire coaching staff to remain in tact for 2008.

The NFL released the draft order for 2008.

It contains a complex tie at the top between Atlanta, Kansas City and Oakland for spots 3-5. Coin flips will be involved in deciding it.

To see the NFL's list: http://www.nfl.com/draft/story?id=09000d5d805a3a57&template=without-video&confirm=true

Guard Tyler Reed signed a futures contract to return to the Bears in 2008.

The sixth-round pick from Penn State in 2006 has been on the practice squad for the past two seasons.

Cornerback Greg Fassitt said he expects to sign a futures contract soon.

The Saints weren’t just beat Sunday at Soldier Field, they were beaten up.

Wide receivers Marques Colston (wrist) and Terrance Copper (concussion) and safety Josh Bullocks (ankle) were knocked out of the game. Tight end Eric Johnson was also sent to the bench.

Safety Leonard Peters and guard Mike Jones, both on the practice squad, are expected to sign futures contracts with the Bears, perhaps as soon as Monday.

Clubs have exclusive negotiating rights with players on their own practice squad for five days beginning Monday. Afterward, they can pursue players from other organizations.

Upon review, unofficial special teams rankings had the Bears first entering Sunday ahead of San Diego and San Francisco.

Brad Maynard’s four punts inside the 20 should help them. The official numbers are crunched by the Dallas Morning News’ Rick Gosselin, who created the complex ranking system that counts 22 categories.


Urlacher can drive 5-5

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Lovie Smith set out a goal for Brian Urlacher to have a 5-5 season as a linebacker in 2006.

He accomplished it this season, getting his fifth interception in the first quarter Sunday when he stepped in front of a Drew Brees pass for Marques Colston.

LB Lance Briggs will return from a hip injury to start today against the New Orleans Saints. Briggs will be an unrestricted free agent on March 1 and all signs point to him taking an offer from the highest bidder.

DT Darwin Walker will finish off his disappointing season in street clothes. Walker, who is expected to be released before March 1 as he has a $5.2 million option bonus due, injured his left elbow at Washington Dec. 6 and will end up missing the final three games despite practicing the last two weeks and being listed probable on Friday's injury report.

The remainder of the inactives:

The Bears are moving the site of their annual fan convention to Soldier Field.

The event, which was a sellout last spring for the first time, had been held at the Hilton and Towers since its inception. Now, the franchise will have more time to put a disappointing season behind before the rah-rah for the 2008 campaign begins.

Friday practice update

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The Bears are getting healthy just in time for the offseason.

All but LB Lance Briggs (hip) and QB Rex Grossman (knee) participated fully in Friday’s final practice of the season in the Walter Payton Center. Briggs and Grossman both participated on a limited basis and are listed questionable for Sunday’s game at Soldier Field with the New Orleans Saints.

Bernard Berrian’s competition on the open market just got thinner.

Dallas Cowboys WR Patrick Crayton took a below-market deal to remain with the team, something his agent Frederick Lyles admitted in telling reporters Thursday night: ``He could have easily secured more money on the open market. But his family is here. His wife and child and mother and siblings, they all live in Dallas. He was more concerned about not uprooting his family.’’

Bears check out CB Zemaitis

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The Bears brought CB Alan Zemaitis in for a look Thursday morning at Halas Hall, but it doesn’t look like the former All-American from Penn State will be signed.

Thursday practice update II

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The official injury report came out and DT Tommie Harris (left knee) and WR Muhsin Muhammad (ankle) were the only two players to miss.

Players who had limited participation: WR Bernard Berrian (knee), LB Lance Briggs (hip), QB Rex Grossman (knee), RT Fred Miller (ankle) and DT Darwin Walker (left elbow).

WR Muhsin Muhammad and DT Tommie Harris (left knee) were not dressed to participate in practice at the beginning of Thursday’s workout.

LB Lance Briggs (hip), DT Darwin Walker (left elbow), RT Fred Miller (ankle), WR Bernard Berrian (knee) all were stretching to practice. Miller and Berrian sat out Wednesday.

As expected, the Bears went ahead and placed CB Nathan Vasher (groin) on injured reserve Thursday morning and signed WR Brandon Rideau to the 53-man roster.

The Bears will need to create an opening on their 53-man roster today as the team is expected to sign WR Brandon Rideau to a contract.

Rideau had inside position for a roster spot during training camp and preseason before a serious right ankle injury suffered in the third exhibition game at Indianapolis sidelined him. He ended up being waived after reaching an injury settlement with the club. He’s an intriguing prospect who spent most of last season on the practice squad. Rideau is 6-3, 200 pounds, and can run well. The Bears really don’t have someone like that on the roster currently.

Brian Urlacher Q&A

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You don't get a lot of answers out of MLB Brian Urlacher these days in these parts, but he participated in a conference call with New Orleans media Wednesday.

Here's what he had to say:

Q: What’s at stake this week as well as last week, as you guys played with a lot of enthusiasm despite being eliminated?

A: We’re just trying to finish strong. It’s been a very disappointing season obviously not going to the playoffs or having a winning record. We just want to finish strong and kind of get things going next season.

The Bears filled the roster spot cleared by DE Mark Anderson when he went on injured reserve earlier in the week by promoting TE Fontel Mines.

If you were worried about catching New England's drive for perfection Saturday night when the 15-0 Patriots travel to the Meadowlands to play the New York Giants, don't worry any longer.

The league has agreed to simulcast its broadcast of the game on NFL Network, which many cable carriers do not provide, on NBC and CBS.

This from the league this afternoon:

“We have taken this extraordinary step because it is in the best interest of our fans,” commissioner Roger Goodell said. “What we have seen for the past year is a very strong consumer demand for NFL Network. We appreciate CBS and NBC delivering the NFL Network telecast on Saturday night to the broad audience that deserves to see this potentially historic game. Our commitment to the NFL Network is stronger than ever.”

P Brad Maynard was named the NFC's special teams player of the week.

It must have been for catching the snaps from Pat Mannelly and otherwise performining flawlessly in a game in which the wind and cold led to Green Bay's Jon Ryan dropping one snap and having two punts blocked.

Wednesday practice update II

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WR Bernard Berrian (knee), DT Tommie Harris (left knee), RT Fred Miller (ankle) and CB Nathan Vasher (groin) were held out of practice Wednesday.

LB Lance Briggs (hip) and DT Darwin Walker (left elbow), who both sat out Sunday’s win over Green Bay, were participating in stretching drills at the beginning of practice Wednesday. Briggs announced in the locker room before the session that he expected to play against the New Orleans Saints.

Players return to Halas Hall this morning with Sunday's season finale with the New Orleans Saints in clear focus after two off days.

Hopefully, we will get a better idea on the status of WLB Lance Briggs, who has a hip injury and did not play last week. If Briggs sits it will mean more time for Jamar Williams, whose been the heir apparent for a year now.

Williams only got in on 16 plays against Green Bay because the Packers were using so many three- and four-wide looks that the Bears were in nickel more than half the time. He'd likely see more action vs. the Saints.

In a move that amounts to more paperwork than anything with just one game remaining, defensive end Mark Anderson was placed on injured reserve with a left knee injury.

The league announced Sunday night that the Bears-Saints game will not be moved.

It will kickoff at noon.

Briggs, Vasher, Walker out

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LB Lance Briggs, CB Nathan Vasher and DT Darwin Walker are all inactive for today's game.

The Bears must be the best 5-9 team there is. Maybe the best team destined to have a losing record, period.

You have to assume as much when you look over the Pro Bowl selections.

With four players named to the Feb. 10 all-star game in Honolulu, the Bears have four more players headed to the game than the Jacksonville Jaguars, who enter today with a 10-4 record. They have more more players headed to the game than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who at 9-5 have already clinched the NFC South and a playoff berth. They have four more players than the New Orleans Saints, whose wild-card hopes remain very much alive entering play today with a 7-7 record. They have four more players than the Detroit Lions, who are stumbling at 6-8 but count two victories over the Bears this season.

The Bears were moved to prime time for the finale to the 2006 season when they played the Green Bay Packers on New Year’s Eve in a completely irrelevant contest. Don’t tell that to the Packers, who won their fourth straight and parlayed the hot ending into success this season.

Don’t look now but next Sunday’s meeting with the New Orleans Saints could be moved from its noon start. It depends on the playoff status of New Orleans, which is battling for an NFC wild-card position. Plenty goes into play in the decision, including tonight’s game in Minnesota between the Vikings and the Washington Redskins.

While the organization did zero to promote the fact that more than just returner Devin Hester and coverage ace Brendon Ayanbadejo were honored with Tuesday's release of Pro Bowl information, there is more good news.

Israel Idonije was selected as a third alternate behind Ayanbadejo, huge news considering his name was not on the fan ballot, that counts one-third in the selection process.

Looks like defensive end Mark Anderson will not play Sunday, and his season with just one game remaining could be in jeopardy. The Bears listed him as doubtful against Green Bay, signaling he will be out.

LB Lance Briggs was listed as questionable after not practicing all week, as were DT Tommie Harris and CB Nathan Vasher, who returned to do light work on Friday.

QB Rex Grossman is questionable, and KR Devin Hester was removed from the report.

The NFL levied fines against cornerback Charles Tillman and linebacker Lance Briggs for plays in Monday's 20-13 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.

Tillman was fined $7,500 for unnecessary roughness. Although no penalty was called on the play, the league deemed that he brought down Vikings receiver Robert Ferguson with a horse collar tackle at the end of his 71-yard reception. It's insult to injury as that was the play that jump-started Minnesota's offense, setting up the Vikes' first touchdown.

DT Tommie Harris (left knee) returned to the practice field Friday at Halas Hall for the first time this week.

Meanwhile, LB Lance Briggs (hip) and DE Mark Anderson (left knee) remained sidelined.

While CB Nathan Vasher (groin) was not in practice gear during the special teams portion of the workout, Vasher went inside and it could be the veteran was returning to take part in at least portions of the workout. Vasher has not practiced since playing Monday night at Minnesota after missing nearly three months of action.

DT Darwin Walker had limited participation in practice and KR Devin Hester and LB Rod Wilson had full participation.

While QB Rex Grossman was in uniform, he didn't do anything.

DL Tommie Harris and Mark Anderson, LB Lance Briggs and CB Nathan Vasher remained out.

QB Rex Grossman had his helmet on and cleats and was doing stretching with the team prior to the outside workout Thursday afternoon at Halas Hall.

While that doesn't mean Grossman is going to do a lot today, maybe he'll hit his goal of dressing as the emergency quarterback for next week's season finale against New Orleans.

Initial anger Antonio Garay held for Washington Redskins left tackle Chris Samuels has given way to understanding.

Samuels wasn’t trying to deliver a malicious hit when he chop blocked the Bears defensive tackle earlier this month at FedEx Field in Landover, Md., fracturing his right ankle and sending him to injured reserve.

``Initially, any person that was in that situation would be [angry at Samuels],’’ Garay said Wednesday as he sat at his locker in Halas Hall with crutches by his side. ``At the time, I knew I got chopped from behind so I was very [hacked] off about that to put it bluntly.

``But I don’t think in any way he did it intentionally or maliciously. I wish him good luck with the rest of his season.’’

Six-time Pro Bowl center is the first alternate for the NFC behind starter Andre Gurode of Dallas and backup Matt Birk of Minnesota.

Any suspense remaining in the Bears’ quarterback situation ended when Kyle Orton appeared at the podium Wednesday afternoon in the press conference for the starting quarterback.

``I thought I played well in stretches and I thought there was a stretch where I didn’t play so well,’’ Orton said. ``So I tried to correct all the stuff I did wrong and get back at it this week and work hard and hopefully play a lot better game this week.’’

For a 5-9 team, the Bears did pretty well getting four players named to the Pro Bowl on Tuesday.

What the team would not say is if any players were chosen as alternates for the all-star game in Honolulu on Feb. 10. A public relations official said it was the organization’s policy not to release that information, although when the Bears were riding high last December all of that information was freely available.

Here’s a possible explanation for why that information was not being released: Brian Urlacher got just about zero support from players and coaches around the league in Pro Bowl balloting. Urlacher was the runaway winner in fan balloting, which counts one-third in the selection process. Votes from the coaches and players count one third, also.

According to information gathered from various sources, including ESPN.com’s John Clayton, Urlacher is no better than a fourth alternate at inside linebacker. Seattle’s Lofa Tatupu and San Francisco’s Patrick Willis were selected for the game. Green Bay announced Nick Barnett is the first alternate. Minnesota announced E.J. Henderson is the second alternate. Washington announced London Fletcher is the third alternate.

Ex-Bear Harris on hit parade

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How good of a season is Chris Harris having with the Carolina Panthers?

The ex-Bears safety just got credit for a forced fumble on Monday for a hit on Houston tight end Owen Daniels in Week 2.

Talk about a jarring shot. Turns out the league had credited Harris with the force all along even though Carolina coaches had given it to fellow safety Deke Cooper.

Harris leads the league with eight forced fumbles, a Panthers’ record, and needs one more to tie the league mark for a single season. He’s also tops among safeties in the league in tackles.

Lance Briggs and Bernard Berrian are gunning for big pay days in free agency and the man leading them there is going to be awfully busy.

The Bears players are just two of 26 unrestricted free agents Drew Rosenhaus is scheduled to have come March 1. Pro Bowl Bears special teamer Brendon Ayanbadejo is one of them. Ayanbadejo is angling to become the highest-paid special teams player in the league. That’s a lot of contracts to work through, but as Rosenhaus said Monday night in Minneapolis it’s a fluid situation with deals getting done from time to time. Don’t look for any pre-March 1 deals for those three with the Bears.

It's never too soon to start talking NFL draft.

With two games remaining on the schedule, the Bears are currently in position to own the 10th pick. They are tied with the Cincinnati Bengals at 5-9, but based on strength of schedule the Bengals would be in the slot ahead of them.

Cornerback Nathan Vasher sounded like a man who wouldn’t fight it if the Bears decided to go ahead and put him on the shelf for the season following the loss Monday night at Minnesota.

No kidding around this time, either.

But after listening to Lovie Smith talk about his desire to beat Green Bay on Sunday and build a little momentum going into the offseason, chances look good Vasher and all other non-injured bodies will be out there. Vasher proved he could return from his partially torn groin muscle, and forced two turnovers with a pick and a timely hit.

The players who give the Bears the best chance to win Sunday against the Green Bay Packers will start. That’s the message Lovie Smith drove home about a half-dozen times during his press conference that just wrapped up at Halas Hall.

UPDATED 2:45 P.M.:


Six-time Pro Bowl linebacker Brian Urlacher was not selected for the league’s all-star game this season, a source told the Sun-Times. Urlacher had been selected to the Pro Bowl each year inn his career with the exception of 2004 when he missed seven games because of injury.

The NFL will release the Pro Bowl teams at 3 p.m. today on the league's television station.

It will be interesting to see how many Bears are chosen. Returner Devin Hester is a lock.

He was one of four Bears who led their position in fan balloting. DT Tommie Harris, ILB Brian Urlacher and special teamer Brendon Ayanbadejo are also in good position.

Things that pop into your mind during a postgame trip back to the hotel:

1. It’s fair to say that Kyle Orton was not put in the best position to succeed with a hapless running game to lean on against the league’s top-ranked run defense. Remember, he had a productive Thomas Jones with him the last time he played. But here’s a question to ponder—do the Bears win the game here if Brian Griese is the quarterback?

Needing to see what Orton can do made sense, but did he really provide the best opportunity to win? Would a veteran like Griese have been able to handle some of the situations a little better? The offense didn’t manage a first down until its sixth possession, and there were six three-and-punts. When you manage four takeaways and the opponent misses an extra point, you should win the game. Every time.

The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome is located off of 5th Street in Minneapolis, not on 34th Street. Nonetheless, it was the place of a miracle Monday night.

If you fell for Nathan Vasher’s antics last week, that is.

The Bears’ veteran cornerback is active for tonight’s game vs. the Vikings, meaning he is expected to play for the first time in nearly three months since partially tearing his groin muscle Sept. 23. The Sun-Times reported Monday that Vasher was expected to play.

Vikings plot to stop Hester

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Devin Hester had the big punt return the first time the Bears and Vikings got together, scoring on an 89-yard run back to open the scoring in the 34-31 loss to Minnesota at Soldier Field Oct. 14.

The big return of the game, though, was the 53-yard kickoff return by Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson in the closing minutes after the Bears had rallied to a tie on an 81-yard touchdown pass from Brian Griese to Hester. Peterson’s run back went to the Bears’ 38-yard line, setting up Ryan Longwell’s game-winning 55-yard field goal.

Despite being busted for misdemeanor possession of marijuana on Thursday night, it appears Minnesota Vikings starting free safety Dwight Smith will play on Monday against the Bears.

Coach Brad Childress told reporters in Minnesota on Saturday that he anticipates Smith will play.

``I am going to get all the facts before I pass any judgment on it,’’ Childress told reporters there. "I'd anticipate him playing, yes."

According to the police report, Smith admitted having just smoked marijuana when an officer approached the vehicle. Police report the vehicle was impeding traffic outside Sheik’s Palace Royale, a downtown strip joint. Defensive tackle Pat Williams was also named in the police report but was in the area and not believed to be in Smith's vehicle.

Former '85 Bear Leslie Frazier is in the playoff hunt as the defensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings a year after being an assistant for the Colts and topping the Bears in Super Bowl XLI.

Here is what Frazier had to say about preparing for Monday night's rematch with the Bears:

Q: Brad Childress has talked about the buy-in factor is always better when you are winning. Some of the defensive players like Darren Sharper had lobbied for certain things; do feel like you guys are hearing less of that when you are winning?

A: To be honest with you when Sharp made those comments you've just got to consider the source. We didn't change anything over the last four weeks or the last five weeks. You've just got to know who your players are and what their personalities are. You want guys to buy in; you are trying to get that done from OTAs all the way to the end of the season, so it's important that everybody buys in.

Bears players did more than just toss around names during their meetings Friday morning at Halas Hall when they voted for Pro Bowl selections that will be announced by the league on Tuesday.

They tossed around some cash for Jackie Taylor, the one-year-old daughter of slain Redskins safety Sean Taylor.

At the urging of the NFLPA, players are being asked to donate a little to a trust fund for the little girl. Strong-side linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer, the club’s NFLPA rep, said nearly everyone chipped in, agreeing to donations that will be deducted directly from their paychecks making it easy.

It will be interesting to see how Minnesota coach Brad Childress handles the situation with starting free safety Dwight Smith.

He was pinched Thursday night by Minneapolis cops and charged with possession of marijuana.

Here's more on the situation: http://nc.startribune.com/blogs/vikings/?p=1222#comments

Antonio Garay received justice, however insignificant it actually is, when the league announced Friday that Washington Redskins left tackle Chris Samuels was fined $12,500 for an illegal chop block that ended the defensive tackle’s season.

Friday practice update

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While DT Tommie Harris (left knee) returned to practice on Friday in the Walter Payton Center, fellow DT Darwin Walker (left elbow) remained sidelined.

Both were listed as questionable for the game, as was CB Nathan Vasher (groin). While Vasher told reporters Thursday it would take a miracle for him to play Monday at Minnesota, it's expected he may give it a go.

DT Darwin Walker remained out of Thursday’s practice in the Walter Payton Center with a banged up elbow. But CB Nathan Vasher was practicing again, and LB Hunter Hillenmeyer (shoulder) was also back to work. QB Rex Grossman (knee) was also sidelined

We’ll get a look at the first injury report of the week in about an hour.

The Bears continued to bolster their weakened interior Wednesday, signing DT Matt Toeaina to a three-year contract.

They grabbed him off the practice squad of the Cincinnati Bengals where he spent the first 14 weeks of the season. Toeaina was a sixth-round draft pick from Oregon.

Kennedy nearly a Bear in 2003

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The selection of Penn State defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy with the 12th pick in the 2003 draft wound up throwing a wrench in the plans of the Bears, but did not work well for the Rams in the long run.

Bears general manager Jerry Angelo was set to select Kennedy 13th as a wide-body tackle to plug into a defense that Ted Washington and Keith Traylor anchored at the time for Dick Jauron and Greg Blache. When St. Louis swiped him a pick earlier, the Bears didn’t know what to do. They were targeting Rex Grossman with the 22nd pick, but knew it was too early to go for him.

Uncertain, they traded out of the 13th spot with New England, where the Patriots chose Texas A&M defensive tackle Ty Warren. Interestingly, some were known to prefer Warren. With him gone as well, the Bears came back with the next pick and took Kennedy’s college teammate Michael Haynes, who was cut at the end of the 2006 preseason and eventually settled an injury settlement with the club for a back injury.

Momentum for the Gridiron Greats fund is growing as the schedule inches closer to the Dec. 23 weekend when some players have pledged to donate game checks, or portions of their game checks to the organization that is dedicated to helping retired players in need of financial assistance.

Minnesota Vikings center Matt Birk announced at a press conference Tuesday his donation of $25,000, and Bears defensive tackle Darwin Walker has contacted the group for more information.

Defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy’s arrival at practice Tuesday morning wasn’t the only news.

A nagging shoulder injury sidelined strong-side linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer, who could miss a little more time this week. Cornerback Nathan Vasher got a visit from coach Lovie Smith during stretching drills, and he was participating in the workout in the Walter Payton Center.


Lovie Smith will announce the Bears' starting quarterback for next Monday's game at Minnesota shortly.

The vibe in the locker room was that Kyle Orton will now get his chance after Rex Grossman was lost for the season with a knee injury at Washington, and the team was essentially eliminated from the playoff race.

Some things are coming into focus as the season winds near an end.

Today, the Bears will put to rest the ugly 24-16 loss at Washington on Thursday. The team chose not to put the defeat behind itself with a post-mortem press conference on Friday and a chance to offer answers to some of the questions that arose.

Perhaps Lovie Smith will shed some light on player usage moving forward, such as who will play quarterback when the Bears travel to Minnesota next Monday night.

As you watch the Detroit Lions give the NFC-leading Dallas Cowboys everything they can handle in more during the first half of their game Sunday at Ford Field, you have to pause and wonder how far off the Bears are from their division rival as well as the elite in the conference. It’s something worth pondering over the final three games of the season as the Bears (5-8) look for some momentum heading into the offseason.

Remember, Green Bay has credited much of its success to the four games it won to close out 2006. But who will be there to step up for the Bears remains unanswered. Defensive tackles Anthony Adams (right elbow) and Antonio Garay (right ankle) are out for the remainder of the season as the Sun-Times reported Saturday.

UPDATED AT 3:20 P.M.: As far as knee injuries go, it’s about the best news possible for Rex Grossman.

Sources close to the player said Friday afternoon that the Bears quarterback suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee and will not require surgery. While an MRI was being performed to confirm the original prognosis, the belief is that it is an injury he can recover from in three to four weeks.

The Bears finished their preparation for Thursday’s game with a workout this morning at Halas Hall before departing for O’Hare.

Middle linebacker Brian Urlacher popped up on the injury report with a new injury. He injured his calf in practice Tuesday and left the field early. He participated in today’s activities, though, and is listed as probably meaning he will start. Urlacher has been plagued since training camp with a chronic arthritic condition in his back.

Kickin' it on the Web

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It took a season-and-a-half, or a little longer, but now Devin Hester has a Web site devoted to, what else, him getting the ball.

kicktodevin.com implores opponents to stop kicking the ball out of bounds, and for the league to institute new rules for kickoffs and punts traveling out of bounds.

Reports of an agreement on a longterm contract extension for Pro Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs generated quite a stir Monday evening, more than anyone saw at Halas Hall earlier in the day.

Always entertaining and often on-the-money Web site profootballtalk.com reported Briggs had come to an agreement with the Bears before correcting itself an hour later. Briggs’ agent Drew Rosenhaus was involved all day in the funeral of Sean Taylor, the Washington Redskins’ safety who was his client. The Bears spent the day picking up the pieces from a come-from-ahead loss to the New York Giants that effectively ended their playoff hopes.

In case you missed it Sunday, or just want to view it again, the NFL Network will rebroadcast the Bears' collapse. Tune in Tuesday night at 7 if you want to catch it.

They have told you all along that they were close to being good, close to executing, close to being at the level of play that took them to the ultimate stage last season. And you see glimpses of it just about every time out, but the simple fact is this Bears team is not good enough to provide a sustained winning effort.

They did the unthinkable Sunday in winning the turnover ratio 4-0 and losing. The defense also forced three three-and-punts. That’s controlling seven Giants’ possessions. The Bears controlled nearly the entire game until the offense couldn’t provide any kind of surge in the second half. New York pulled within 16-14 and Lawrence Tynes’ kickoff went out of bounds.

Bears-Giants inactives

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CB Nathan Vasher is inactive for the ninth consecutive game with his groin injury. Vasher practiced three days this last week and barring a setback could return Thursday at Washington.

As expected, John St. Clair will start at right tackle for Fred Miller. Trumaine McBride will start again at cornerback in place of Vasher. And as WBBM reported Brandon McGowan will start at strong safety for Adam Archuleta.

Also inactive for the Bears are:

QB Kyle Orton (third QB)
LB Nick Roach
LB Darrell McClover
G Josh Beekman
WR Mike Hass
DT Antonio Garay

Archuleta sent to the bench

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The Bears' flagship radio partner WBBM kicked off its coverage of today's game by announcing that strong safety Adam Archuleta has been benched.

53rd roster spot still open

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There are a wealth of options for the Bears with the roster spot that remains open, but none of them are glamorous at this point.

The club elected not to sign someone to fill out the 53-man squad earlier this week after running back Cedric Benson was placed on injured reserve. Apparently, the decision was made that there isn’t a running back on the street right now who can step in and help. There are more than a handful of teams who operate with only four running backs on their roster, and that’s what the Bears have right now with Adrian Peterson backed by Garrett Wolfe and fullbacks Jason McKie and Lousaka Polite.

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