Chicago Sun-Times

September 2008 Archives

Bears-Eagles inactives

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Bears

3rd QB Caleb Hanie
S Craig Steltz
CB Marcus Hamilton
G Dan Buenning
OT Chris Williams
DT Matt Toeaina
WR Earl Bennett
DT Tommie Harris

Harris out; Hester will suit up

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Tommie Harris will not see you on the field tonight, after all.

The three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle is inactive for tonight's game after missing the entire week of practice with a left knee injury.

The good news for the Bears is Devin Hester will play.

No official word yet as the only two people on the field are the guy cutting the grass and another worker repairing some turf.

But a team spokesman said it looked good for Devin Hester this morning and chances are he will be able to play tonight against Philadelphia.


With the Philadelphia Eagles coming to Soldier Field, ESPN will take a look back at the legendary "Fog Bowl" as the 20-year anniversary of the playoff game quickly approaches.

I've seen a copy of the segment that will air on "Sunday NFL Countdown" and it's a nice look back at the 20-12 victory by the Bears on Dec. 31, 1988. The fog began to roll in over the stadium with two minutes remaining in the first half and the entire rest of the game was played in a complete haze.

Commentary comes from Mike Singletary, CBS play-by-play man Vern Lundquist, referee Jim Tunney and WGN meteorologist Tom Skilling, among others.

Tampa Bay right tackle Jeremy Trueblood, the man the Bears claim started the pileup in the overtime session that led to a penalty against Charles Tillman, has been fined by the NFL.

Trueblood was docked $5,000 unnecessary roughness, striking Adewale Ogunleye in the head. Tillman was also fined $5,000 for that play.

Friday injury report

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The Eagles listed quarterback Donovan McNabb (chest) and running back Brian Westbrook (ankle) both questionable for Sunday's game. McNabb had full participation in practice Friday while Westbrook has yet to return to the field since being injured on the first play of the second quarter last Sunday vs. Pittsburgh.

A look at the Eagles' report:

OUT

DE Victor Abiamiri wrist

DOUBTFUL

RG Shawn Andrews back (this is the second straight start Andrews will miss)
WR Kevin Curtis hernia (had limited participation in practice and might be a week away)
TE L.J. Smith back (did not practice and this becomes another area of concern for Philly)

QUESTIONABLE

QB Donovan McNabb chest (he'll start)
RB Brian Westbrook ankle (those in Philly say it's unlikely he will play)

PROBABLE

FB Tony Hunt concussion
C Jamaam Jackson quad
DT Dan Klecko hand

Tommie Harris missed his third consecutive day of practice Friday and there is a chance the three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle will not play Sunday against Philadelphia. He is listed as questionable on the injury report.

"However you put it,'' coach Lovie Smith responded when asked if Harris was injured or just sore. "He's not in position to practice right now, whether that's injury, soreness or all of the above."

The Bears have been disappointed in Harris' production thus far. He's registered two tackles and one stop for loss through three games.

Harris said he would "see you on the field Sunday'' before going third-person on the situation.

Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb practiced for the first time this week on Friday. We'll see where he's listed on the injury report with his bruised chest. The bottom line is that it's expected that he will start Sunday night.

Running back Brian Westbrook (ankle) and tight end L.J. Smith (back) were present but did not practice. That means it looks more and more likely that Correll Buckhalter will have to replace Westbrook with Lorenzo Booker getting some opportunities as well.

UPDATED: Benson makes statement

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A day after two grand juries in Austin, Texas, cleared former Bears' first-round draft pick Cedric Benson of all charges from his two alcohol-related arrests this spring, he released a statement through attorney David Cornwell:

"I appeared before two grand juries yesterday and finally got the chance to tell my side of the story," Benson said. "I am grateful that the grand jurors agreed that I did not commit any crimes.

"This ordeal is finally behind me, but I will use the experience to continue to grow as a person and as a professional football player."

The Bears didn't have anything to say regarding Cedric Benson's big win in court on Thursday.

They were relatively confident Benson would eventually be cleared of the charges from the first arrest--drunk boating and resisting arrest. He was adamant following the boating arrest that he had been wrongly accused and even roughed up by authorities. The club stood behind Benson during the middle of the offseason program and the plan was for him to battle with rookie Matt Forte in training camp for the starting job.

Judging by how Forte has performed through three games--he's fourth in the league in rushing--the competition would not have lasted long. Benson lacked the speed and explosiveness to excel, was a liability in the passing game and was never a fit in the locker room where Forte won over almost instant respect.

But as such a touted prospect three years ago, someone is likely to kick his tires. After all, the NFL is full of second-chance stories. Thursday's development allows Benson, who pocketed nearly $13.8 million from the Bears, to move forward with one less piece of baggage. One would have to imagine general manager Jerry Angelo and a few others at Halas Hall are quietly pulling for him.

Cedric Benson was cleared on all charges in Texas today stemming from his spring arrests.

Two grand juries in Travis County returned a no bill on each of Benson's cases meaning he will not go to trial for his May arrest on charges of drunken boating and resisting arrest or his June arrest when he was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol.

Thursday injury report

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Wide receiver Brandon Lloyd was added to the injury report today with a hip injury. He was held out.

The Bears list:

Limited participation

Alex Brown -- left ankle
Tommie Harris -- left knee
Devin Hester -- ribs
Nathan Vasher -- shoulder
Chris Williams -- back

Full participation

Lance Briggs -- foot

Devin Hester is back.

The returner/wide receiver is on the practice field this afternoon for the first time since being carted off the field in Carolina during the third quarter on Sept. 14.

Hester, who has torn cartilage in his rib cage, will probably be in a limited role today but when media was allowed out at practice he was active and on the field. That's good news for the Bears, who could work him back in a limited role Sunday against Philadelphia. We'll get a better indication on his status when the injury report is released later.

Wide receiver Mark Bradley cleared waivers this afternoon, a little more than 24 hours after the Bears released him to make room for cornerback Marcus Hamilton.

The former second-round draft pick had been on the field for just one offensive snap this season, and spent the majority of the preseason running with the second and third teams.

Wednesday injury report

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Here are the Bears who were OUT today:

WR Marty Booker -- personal
DE Alex Brown -- ankle
DT Tommie Harris -- left knee (interestingly, Harris was in full pads during stretching which he participated in)
WR Devin Hester -- ribs
CB Nathan Vasher -- shoulder


LIMITED PARTICIPATION IN PRACTICE

LB Lance Briggs -- foot
FS Mike Brown -- rest
LB Brian Urlacher -- rest
OT Chris Williams -- back

FedEx has delivered at least one letter to Halas Hall from the league office.

It was addressed to Jamar Williams. The linebacker said he picked up a $7,500 fine for the chippy affair Sunday between the Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Soldier Field.

The NFL came down on Williams for taunting, saying he stood over Dexter Jackson following a kickoff return in the first quarter and a tackle by Nick Roach. Williams was surprised by the unwanted delivery.

Quarterback Donovan McNabb and running back Brian Westbrook sat out practice today in Philadelphia.

McNabb suffered a chest contusion on the final play of the first quarter Sunday against Pittsburgh and then Westbrook suffered an ankle injury on the first play of the second quarter.

While McNabb is fully expected to start Sunday, Westbrook's situation is very uncertain. He said on his radio show Monday night in Philly that his injury is close to a high ankle sprain and those are rarely one-week affairs.

Also missing practice were guard Shawn Andrews (back), fullback Tony Hunt (concussion) and tight end L.J. Smith (back). Andrews and Smith could miss the game Sunday.

Seven weeks to the day since Chris Williams underwent surgery to repair a herniated disc in his lower back he is on the practice field.

Williams is taking part in practice on a limited basis as he works his way back. The team has never put a specific timetable on a return but general manager Jerry Angelo did say he thought Williams would be ready for game action before November. Williams certainly isn't close but there are 3.5 weeks before the team's final game of October vs. Minnesota on the 19th. The team has a bye the following week.

There is a lot that needs to be learned about the first-round pick from Vanderbilt before he can be inserted into game action because he was injured on the second day of training camp. There will have to be a need too as the line has been decent through the first three games.

The practice is being conducted in full pads. No word yet, but a good guess is Williams is off limits to any contact.

Thankfully, the postgame chatter has moved on from low blows but that doesn't mean shots are not still being taken.

Tampa Bay tight end Jerramy Stevens, fresh off his two-game league suspension, made his debut this season at Soldier Field and hauled in a one-yard touchdown catch to force overtime.

Stevens made five receptions for 61 yards, including a 31-yarder.

"I personally feel like some people on the Bears got exposed,'' Stevens said. "But I'm not going to mention no names.''

Seeing as the Bucs passed for 407 yards, Stevens has a point.

Marcus Hamilton was hoping that his chance opportunity to make his NFL debut on Sunday at Soldier Field would land him a regular gig.

Little did he know it would be with the Bears.

They claimed him off waivers Tuesday afternoon, making room for him by releasing wide receiver Mark Bradley. The move gives you an indication of how general manager Jerry Angelo feels about Hamilton because it's not like they have a pressing need for cornerbacks, especially with fifth-round draft pick Zack Bowman on the practice squad.

Hamilton served as the nickel back as rookie Elbert Mack was suspended for the game and first-round pick Aqib Talib was out with a pulled hamstring. He was on the field for about 20 snaps, by his estimation, and was credited with two pass breakups on third down and one tackle. Tampa was trying to move him back to its practice squad before the Bears made a move for him.

"I didn't know if that game was going to help me get a job, but that was my goal,'' Hamilton said. "I wanted to put some tape out there so people would take notice.

Another high pick from the Bears' 2005 draft class is history.

Wide receiver Mark Bradley was waived this afternoon to make room for cornerback Marcus Hamilton.

Bradley was a second-round pick from Oklahoma in the same draft that produced running back Cedric Benson in the first round. He came on in his rookie season before a torn ACL in the middle of the year derailed him. Bradley never recovered and spent much of last season in the doghouse. He was hailed as a starter after Bernard Berrian escaped via free agency and veteran Muhsin Muhammad was released, but Bradley required arthroscopic knee surgery in May and was essentially never seen from again. He appeared on the field for one offensive snap in three games.

Rashied Davis and Brandon Lloyd sat out eight plays each against Tampa Bay on Sunday and it will be interesting to see what happens with Davis' play time Sunday night when Philadelphia comes calling at Soldier Field. Here's a breakdown of the offensive play time:

The numbers vs. Tampa Bay

Wide receivers & Tight ends (74 total snaps)

Marty Booker 25
Mark Bradley 0
Rashied Davis 66
Devin Hester DNP
Brandon Lloyd 66
Desmond Clark 56
Kellen Davis 0
Greg Olsen 43


Cumulative statistics

Wide receivers

Total snaps through 3 games: 196 (does not count spike in Week 1 and kneel down in Week 2)

Earl Bennett DNP, DNP, DNP. Play time percentage: NA

Marty Booker 7/61, 23/61, 25/74. Play time percentage: 28.1 up from 24.6 last week

Mark Bradley DNP, 1/61, DNP. Play time percentage: 0.0 same as 0.0 last week

Rashied Davis 48/61, 49/61, 66/74. Play time percentage: 83.2 up from 79.5 last week

Devin Hester 21/61, 12/61, DNP. Play time percentage: 27.0 same as 27.0 last week

Brandon Lloyd 39/61, 43/61, 66/74. Play time percentage: 75.5 up from 67.2 last week

We've got the breakdown on play time for Sunday's game against Tampa Bay and we've crunched the numbers for the entire season.

We'll start with the defensive line and go over the offensive numbers at wide receiver and tight end later on this afternoon.

Defensive tackle Tommie Harris tied with end Adewale Ogunleye for the most action on the line with 67 snaps in the 84 plays the defense was on the field.

That brought Harris' play-time percentage for the season up significantly to 72.7. It is interesting to note that 72.7 is ahead of the rate he played at last season--71 percent.

Defensive tackle Dusty Dvoracek was on the field less against the Buccaneers and that's probably a function of the fact that Brian Griese passed the ball 67 times more than anything else. That meant more playing time for Israel Idonije.

As coach Lovie Smith said Monday, he wasn't particularly happy with the line, at least when it came to the pressure it generated on Griese. The Bears went without a sack for the first time in 24 regular-season games.

Veteran free safety Mike Brown was credited with 17 tackles by coaches after they finished reviewing game tape.

That's a career-high for Brown, whose previous high was 13 at Washington in the 2005 season opener.

It marks the second straight game a safety led the team in tackles, which means plays are finishing up downfield.

This was the last thing the front office and coaching staff wanted to see happen.

Brian Griese did not come into Soldier Field with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and get a victory. He came in and single-handedly directed an improbable comeback by setting a record against the Bears with 67 pass attempts. The quarterback that wasn't good enough to compete for the starting job here has to be a frontrunner for the NFC offensive player player of the week award at the expense of the defense he used to go against in practice all the time.

There were three years remaining on Griese's deal but a personality clash with the coaches, above all else, led the club to push the eject button. It's not like the Bears didn't know he was capable of this. They saw it first-hand last season when he rallied the offense 97 yards for a game-winning touchdown at Philadelphia.

"You know what, I don't know,'' Griese said when asked if he expected to be back with the Bears. "I was traded. Obviously, they didn't need me.''

And that's exactly what the Bears are going to keep telling themselves, that they didn't need Griese. The Bucs sure are glad to have him. They're calling him "Top Gun" in Tampa today.

From the For What It's Worth Department ... J.T. O'Sullivan tossed two touchdown passes Sunday in San Francisco's win over Detroit to raise the 49ers to 2-1.

Count the Bears thankful Kyle Orton was sharp with the exception of one misguided pass straight to defense end Gaines Adams that was returned 45 yards for a touchdown. Orton made some tough throws and show grit and determination running out of the pocket and collecting 21 yards rushing. We might have been writing about his game-winning drive had Rashied Davis not had a perfect pass over the middle hit off his hands, his second drop on third down in two weeks.

If these former NFC Central foes were still in the same division, there would be some bad blood brewing for a rematch later in the season.

The Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers did not leave cheap shots on the field Sunday afternoon at Soldier Field as some strong allegations regarding dirty play were made afterward.

It was the skirmish after Brian Griese's two-yard pass to Jerramy Stevens on third-and-nine from the Bucs' eight-yard line that heightened emotions in what had been a chippy affair. Tampa was going to have to punt from its own 10-yard line early in overtime, setting the Bears up with premium field position, before one of the all-time boneheaded Bears' penalties moved the chains for the Bucs.

Cornerback Charles Tillman was singled out in the fracas for squaring off with Tampa wide receiver Michael Clayton and called for a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty. For his part, Tillman said emotions got the best of him.

"I was just trying to pull them off and one thing led to another,'' he said. "It got a little physical. [I've] just got to be smarter than that. No excuses.''

But it all started in the trenches where Bucs right tackle Jeremy Trueblood was rolling around with defensive end Adewale Ogunleye. Trueblood leveled some serious accusations after he was asked by the Sun-Times if he was at the root of the skirmish.

Hester out for Sunday's game

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Devin Hester will miss today's game against the Bucs with torn cartilage in his rib cage.

Rookie Earl Bennett will not be replacing him as a punt returner, either. Bennett is also inactive for the third consecutive game. The person who inherits the spot opened up by Hester is running back Adrian Peterson, who was down last week.

Playing catch and wearing his game socks didn't mean a thing for defensive tackle Anthony Adams, either. He's inactive for the third consecutive game also.

The other inactives:

3rd QB Caleb Hanie
S Craig Steltz
G Dan Buenning
OT Chris Williams
DT Matt Toeaina

We speculated earlier in the week that DT Anthony Adams might be active this week against Tampa Bay. No official word yet, but he's got his game socks on and is out on the field right now.

No Devin Hester sighting at this point but we have seen Bucs QB Brian Griese visiting with his friends on the Bears. Stay turned and we'll update the inactive list when we get it.

Had the Inside the Bears staff construct a chart on Bears safeties when putting together the gameday column earlier this week.

The Bears had one of the best combinations in the league with Mike Brown and Tony Parrish, who teamed on the 2001 NFC Central Division champion club.

The Bears had an abundance of free agents at the time, and Parrish was one of the few players not targeted by general manager Jerry Angelo. He went after some positions where they were even bigger questions at the time, and the move made sense. The Bears didn't want to commit $3 million and more per season to Parrish when they felt Brown was their best safety. Of course, Parrish went on to be a Pro Bowl performer for the 49ers.


Devin Hester has been listed as questionable for Sunday's game vs. Tampa Bay with the torn cartilage in his rib cage.

Hester did not practice this week and the prospects of him playing would seem to be worse than the 50-50 that some equate to questionable.

"The progress is getting better than it was [Thursday],'' Hester said. "[I'm] still pushing for Sunday and hoping I'll be able to go out there and play.

"I'll let everything get cleared by the trainers and whenever they come to an agreement that they feel I'm ready, then I'll go with it."

If Hester does not play, Marty Booker and perhaps Mark Bradley are expected to see increased playing time on offense. Danieal Manning is locked into the role as the kick returner and it's a toss-up between Nathan Vasher and Earl Bennett on punt returns. Rashied Davis also took some reps in practice this week.

The NFL added insult to injury for Brandon McGowan as the veteran safety will have to cough up $5,000 for playing in what could be his final game as a Bear.

The league fined him for unnecessary roughness, striking an opponent late, for his actions after Brandon Lloyd had returned Darrell McClover's blocked punt nine yards for a touchdown in the first quarter last Sunday at Carolina. He drew a 15-yard penalty on the play.

The promotion of linebacker Joey LaRocque from the practice squad this late in the week means one thing--he can expect to play Sunday at Soldier Field against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The rookie seventh-round pick from Oregon State was informed Thursday night he would be promoted and the move will officially be made this afternoon when safety Brandon McGowan is placed on injured reserve, as we Twittered more than 90 minutes ago. LaRocque can figure he will be on the field because the Bears do not hand out roster spots for players to stand on the sidelines with a terrific view and collect a game check.

With Devin Hester missing practice for the third consecutive day on Friday it looks less likely he will play Sunday.

Of course, coach Lovie Smith has allowed players who have not practiced during the week to play in the past, and he'll do the same with Hester if he's ready. The issue is that Hester's torn rib cartilage could potentially be made worse if he goes out and reinjures himself.

"There is [danger] every time you come out on the football field,'' Smith said. "We won't put anyone who isn't healthy out on the football field. But if he is ready to go, we'll always let our players go. But if they're not, we'll do whatever we can to protect them. It's a long year.''

Lance Briggs looked through the mail in his locker and didn't see any correspondences from the NFL.

That's because the league deemed his hit on Carolina quarterback Jake Delhomme to be legal. Delhomme scrambled out of the pocket on a third down in the third quarter and ran downfield before sliding late. Briggs popped him as his slide was beginning and no penalty was called even though the Panthers complained loudly.

"Lance Briggs will not be fined,'' a league spokesman said. "It was a legal hit and there was no penalty called on the play. The quarterback slid late and Briggs had already committed. It was not a foul."

Watching replays of fullback Jason McKie being stacked up in the backfield, you couldn't help but wonder if the play would have been a success with ex-Bears tight end John Gilmore on the field.

That's because rookie tight end Kellen Davis whiffed on his block of Carolina linebacker Thomas Davis on fourth-and-one from the 50-yard line Sunday. Thomas Davis came across his face and was in the backfield almost instantly as Kellen Davis was slow reacting out of his stance.

That's what the veteran Gilmore was best known for when he was here, blocking. It's what the Tampa Bay Buccaneers brought him on board for, too. The difference in Gilmore wearing a Bucs uniform Sunday at Soldier Field and a Bears uniform came down to a few hundred thousand dollars.

No word yet on what the Bears will do with their open roster spot now that Brandon McGowan is done for the season.

This late in the week, it wouldn't be a surprise if they took their time through the weekend to get a better handle on what direction they want to go. No one they signed today or Thursday would be active on Sunday. Coach Lovie Smith would not provide insight as to whether or not the 53rd man will come from the practice squad or outside the building.

"We keep all of our options open, always,'' Smith said.

Back to Plan C at nickel back

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Welcome to Plan C at nickel back.

It probably should not be a great surprise to anyone that Brandon McGowan will miss the remainder of the season to undergo surgery on his left ankle. He missed 25 regular-season games over the last three seasons with various injuries. McGowan twisted his ankle in the fourth quarter Sunday at Carolina, injuring it on a kickoff return. His loss will also be felt on special teams where he was a four-phase contributor.

With McGowan heading to injured reserve that means Danieal Manning will likely have the opportunity to win back his job as the nickel. Manning was Plan A when Ricky Manning Jr. was phased out at the start of the offseason program. The coaching staff moved to Plan B after the third preseason game, moving McGowan over from a starting role at strong safety to nickel back. That lasted all of two games and that brings them to Plan C.

McGowan out for the season

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Brandon McGowan, who was demoted from strong safety to nickel back right before the season, will miss the remainder of the year. He will have surgery on his left ankle.

Devin Hester is not participating in the practice in full pads this afternoon at Halas Hall. He is on the field but not in uniform, and nickel back Brandon McGowan was not spotted on the field when the media was allowed to view the beginning of practice.

Hester injured the left side of his ribs running back a kickoff in the third quarter at Carolina on Sunday. He had an MRI Tuesday and it's not believed the injury is serious, that it could have been just a fluke occurrence. Hester has said he is feeling fine and expects to play Sunday vs. Tampa Bay.

Hester expects to play vs. Bucs

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The first injury report of the week is not due until 3 p.m., and the best guess is that Devin Hester will appear on it in some form with the fluke rib injury he suffered Sunday at Carolina.

But the receiver/returner has a good chance of playing this week against Tampa Bay. He has said that he is feeling fine and expects to play.

Hester had an MRI Tuesday on the area to determine what was wrong and sources said Monday morning that he was not ailing from broken or bruised ribs.

Had an opportunity to go over the play-time statistics from Week 2 and combine them with the numbers from Week 1.

Dusty Dvoracek had the most snaps at tackle with 39, one more than Tommie Harris, and he proved he was deserving by leading the linemen with nine tackles. The player who lost out in the rotation was Israel Idonije. After getting 35 plays at Indianapolis, he fell to 16 and that can be attributed to the fact that the Bears used far less nickel to defend the Panthers than they did Peyton Manning and the Colts.

Mark Anderson's snaps also dipped at Carolina. He was on the field for 34 plays against the Colts and had 19 vs. the Panthers.

As far as the receivers and tight ends go, the only real fluctuation was with Devin Hester and Marty Booker and that's directly related to Hester's rib injury which kept him off the field on offense during the second half. Hester went from 21 to 12 and Booker's play rose from seven to 23. The plan was to get Booker more time though.

Tackling the issue

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Strong safety Kevin Payne was credited with a team-high 13 tackles by coaches Monday when they finished review of game film. He's now leading the team with 18.

Dusty Dvoracek
made nine tackles, a lot for a defensive tackle. That was a product of the Bears doing a pretty solid job of bottling up the run until late in the third quarter.

The Bears are waiting for the swelling to go down before taking an MRI of the left side of Devin Hester's rib area.

Hester left the game Sunday following a kickoff return during the third quarter. He ran out of bounds on the Carolina sideline on the play and clutched his side. A source close to the player said he didn't take a hit in the area earlier in the game and that it is unlikely he is suffering from bruised or cracked ribs. The expectation is that Hester pulled something but more will not be known until he undergoes the MRI, which might not happen until tomorrow.

Ten random thoughts on today's 20-17 victory by the Panthers at Bank of America Stadium:

1. Have you ever seen a home team have more trouble with false starts? The Panthers picked up five in the first half and it looked like several of them were the product of Jake Delhomme trying to sort out what the Bears were doing defensively at the line of scrimmage. Delhomme was barking out some calls and the play clock was running low and his guys couldn't maintain their stances. Carolina was making about every mistake you could think of and the Bears simply didn't capitalize enough.

2. The most bothersome thing about Greg Olsen's two lost fumbles is neither looked to be the product of a jarring hit. Thomas Davis got the first one out and Chris Harris accurately described the second one. He compared it to playing lazy defense in basketball and going for the pickpocket when you're behind your man. When there are huge hits, fumbles happen for even the most sure-handed carriers.

Olsen's first fumble took probably at least three points off the scoreboard. He wasn't going anywhere on the second-and-seven play from the Carolina-25-yard line, so the Bears would have been facing third and a decent distance, but that's in Robbie Gould's wheelhouse right there. It could have been 10-0 midway through the first quarter. As far as the second fumble, that happened deep in the Bears end, that gave a team desperately seeking momentum just that.

He wasn't the only one who had a bad game. Just off the top, there was at least one drop for Rashied Davis and one penalty. Davis, who started, caught three passes for 11 yards. Brandon McGowan had two penalties, one of the uncalled for 15-yard variety following the blocked punt touchdown, before he was injured.

You cannot judge a player's injury by how he moves in the locker room after a game, but know this much about returner and wide receiver Devin Hester--he was moving very gingerly after leaving the game midway through the third quarter with what was called a rib injury.

Hester was hurt at the end of a kickoff return when he was tackled by rookie Dan Connor.

Panthers beat the heat in white

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With game-time temperatures expected to be in the low 90's, the Panthers are wearing their white jerseys meaning the Bears will be in their typical home navy tops.

Dehydration could be a key issue. Carolina is used to these conditions. It was rarely this warm even during training camp for the Bears.

WR Bradley active vs. Panthers

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Perhaps with the idea in mind that the offense will need to create more big plays this week, wide receiver Mark Bradley will be active today vs. Carolina.

Bradley was one of the eight gameday inactives last week at Indianapolis.

Sitting in his place this week will be running back Adrian Peterson, who played on special teams only vs. the Colts.

CHARLOTTE, N.C.--If Devin Hester has been pressing a little since signing his $40 million contract extension in July, he's not admitting it.

It's at least one explanation for the daredevil attempt to start the third quarter in Indianapolis when he tried to bring out a kick from seven yards deep in the end zone. For as much attention as that effort has received, keep in mind if he hadn't been brought down at the three by a defender he never saw, he might well have had a 107-yard touchdown. Don't look for the Bears to be putting the brakes on him.

"We won't,'' coach Lovie Smith said. "We expect him to make good decisions. Will you make the right decision every time? I've never seen anyone that does. But we're going to let Devin be himself. He does have a knack and we're expecting big plays from him this week like we will every week.''

CHARLOTTE, N.C.--Veteran wide receiver Marty Booker was seldom used in preseason and that was the case again last Sunday in the opener at Indianapolis.

He got one catch to extend his Bears' record of consecutive games with a reception to 59, but was on the field for just seven snaps.

Wide receivers coach Darryl Drake expects that to change against Carolina, but there are no guarantees. One reason given for Booker's limited role against the Colts is all of a sudden he is being used at the Z, a new position for him in his return to the team. Mark Bradley had been working there a lot and with Bradley and rookie third-round draft pick Earl Bennett inactive in Week 1, someone needed to fill the role.

Injury report

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Friday, Sept. 12

DT Tommie Harris, ankle. Harris was limited in his participation in practice and is probable.

LB Lance Briggs, ankle. Briggs had full participation in practice and is probable.

CB Nathan Vasher, shoulder/back. Vasher had limited participation in practice and the team added back to his list of ailments. He is probable.

WR-KR-PR Devin Hester, foot. Hester had full participation in practice and is probable.

LT John Tait, groin. Tait had full participation in practice and is probable.

RB Matt Forte, ankle. Forte had limited participation in practice and is probable.

For the Panthers, WR Ryne Robinson (knee) and G Travelle Wharton (knee) are doubtful and did not practice. LB Na'il Diggs (shoulder), CB Chris Gamble (arm) and TE Dante Rosario (foot) are questionable. They all had limited participation in practice.

The league dipped into the wallet of Adewale Ogunleye this week, fining the defensive end $5,000 for the 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty he picked up late in the fourth quarter Sunday at Indianapolis. Ogunleye was engaged in a little jawing with Colts tight end Gijon Robinson and punctuated the exchange with a head butt, drawing a flag right in front of referee John Parry.

Rookie running back Matt Forte was limited in practice Friday with a "tight ankle" according to coach Lovie Smith.

It's the first time this week Forte's name has been mentioned when it comes to the injury report that will be released later today, but Smith insisted he will be fine for Sunday's game at Carolina.

Drew Rosenhaus' stable in the Bears locker room has grown by one.

The agent is now representing running back Kevin Jones, according to profootballtalk.com. That gives him seven players on the team, more than any other firm.

Rosenhaus was outside Halas Hall Thursday afternoon and the visit could have coincided with the switch for Jones, who according to NFLPA documents is still with Impact Sports and Mitch Frankel.

Judging by some of the posts on here earlier, there hasn't been this much fan reaction to the departure of a seventh-round pick in a long time.

No one reacted like this when safety Mike Green was sent packing a few years ago and he actually started 45 games in a Bears uniform over five seasons.

Kirk Barton was waived Wednesday because the Bears deemed it necessary to bring in an offensive tackle with experience and it cannot be disputed Fred Miller has a better working knowledge of the offense. The Dolphins were the only team to submit a claim for Barton, meaning 30 other teams didn't see enough on his game tape to make a play for him.

Barton claimed by Dolphins

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Kirk Barton will not be returning to the Bears.

The rookie seventh-round pick, who was waived Wednesday to make room for veteran Fred Miller, was claimed off waivers this afternoon by the Miami Dolphins. He will join the Dolphins' 53-man roster.

Barton, a four-year starter at Ohio State, was the No. 3 tackle almost from the start of training camp with top pick Chris Williams being injured, and he played extensively in preseason giving the Dolphins and every other team plenty of tape to scout.

Injury report

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Thursday, Sept. 11

DT Tommie Harris, ankle. Harris was limited in his participation in practice Thursday.

LB Lance Briggs, ankle. Briggs was limited in his participation in practice Thursday.

CB Nathan Vasher, shoulder. Vasher had full participation in practice Thursday, an improvement from Wednesday

WR-KR-PR Devin Hester, foot. Hester was limited in his participation in practice Thursday.

LT John Tait, groin. Tait was limited in his participation in practice Thursday.

For the Panthers, TE Dante Rosario (foot) and LB Na'il Diggs (shoulder) were bumped up to limited participation in practice Thursday after sitting out Wednesday. G Travelle Wharton (knee) remained out.

Brian Griese has been named the starting quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for Sunday's game against Atlanta. That's not big news but for the fact that it greatly increases the chances he will start against the Bears when the Bucs come to visit Soldier Field Sept. 21.

Griese was the best quarterback for Tampa during preseason and Jeff Garcia was downright bad in the opener at New Orleans. With a bum ankle and likely hurt feelings over Jon Gruden's flirtations with Brett Favre during the summer, the thinking is Griese could captain the pirate's ship for the remainder of the season.

The Bears are planning to bring back offensive tackle Kirk Barton to the practice squad this afternoon provided he clears waivers, a league source said.

Barton was released Wednesday to make room for veteran Fred Miller.

Couple notes and quotes here to start off the day ...

Panthers coach John Fox on his impressions of the Bears defense against Indianapolis:

"They ran a lot more one deep than I have seen them run in a long time," Fox said. "They were very aggressive in how they disguised their fronts and the number of people they had up in the box and they played very, very fast, for sure."

That will be one of the real interesting things, to see how Bob Babich mixes things up this week to go against the Panthers. Jake Delhomme doesn't have the shiny statistics Peyton Manning does, but he's still a savvy performer. You would think the Bears can gamble and be more aggressive than usual against Carolina with Steve Smith not in the lineup.

Business is good at Halas Hall these days, according to Forbes magazine anyway.

The Bears came in ninth in the annual ranking by the publication of the most valuable NFL franchises. The Bears are valued at $1.064 billion, an eight percent increase from last season to put them in the billion dollar club.

The franchise's $226 million revenue is tied for sixth and the operating income figure of $33.7 million is fifth.

Dallas, with a new stadium on the way, is the most valuable franchise at $1.612 billion. Washington is next at $1.538 billion.

Injury report

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Wednesday, Sept. 10

DT Tommie Harris, ankle. Harris was limited in his participation in practice Wednesday.

LB Lance Briggs, ankle. Briggs was limited in his participation in practice Wednesday.

CB Nathan Vasher, shoulder. Vasher was limited in his participation in practice Wednesday.

WR-KR-PR Devin Hester, foot. Hester was limited in his participation in practice Wednesday.

LT John Tait, groin. Tait was limited in his participation in practice Wednesday.

Panthers coach John Fox was asked the obligatory question, "will you kick to Devin Hester?"

"I don't think I'd tell you even if I knew," Fox responded. "We'll mix it up."

The shame of it is the Panthers don't have loquacious ex-Bears punter Todd Sauerbrun any longer. Sauerbrun approached the challenge with vigor last season when he was with Denver. As a side note, Sauerbrun is believed to be the first and only punter ever requested on a media conference call back in '05 when he was with Carolina.

Adewale Ogunleye, who made three tackles for loss in Sunday's upset at Indianapolis, including a stop of Colts running back Joseph Addai in the end zone for a safety, was named the NFC defensive player of the week.

Two days after the Carolina Panthers ganged up on San Diego running back LaDainian Tomlinson and limited him to 97 yards on 21 rushes, strong safety Chris Harris was asked if the gameplan for this week's meeting in Carolina will be for the Panthers to shut down the Bears' running game.

After a month of talking with Fred Miller about a return to the the Bears, the club and the player have reached agreement.

A source close to the player said the 35-year-old offensive tackle will sign a one-year contract to serve as a backup offensive tackle and should be on the practice field this afternoon at Halas Hall.

Miller worked out for the Bears on Tuesday and after the team swung and missed in its bid to claim James Marten, a third-round pick from Dallas in 2007 who was released Saturday, off waivers on Monday, it apparently went back to Plan A and got a deal done with Miller.

A little later than we like, we get to some final thoughts on the game Sunday night in Indianapolis. Like the team, we've got to put this one behind us and move on to the next one at Carolina, and we'll do that starting Wednesday morning. Here are some notes and quotes coming out of the game:

***
Maybe defensive tackle Tommie Harris didn't get as much rest as you thought during the game. Harris was on the field for 44 of the Colts' 66 offensive plays, the most of any interior lineman. Of course, that's not at the 74 percent clip Harris wants to be at for the end of the season. His de-escalating roster bonus is contingent on making the Pro Bowl and being on the field for 74 percent of the snaps for the season. He would have needed an additional five snaps in the game to be at that pace.

Israel Idonije had 35 snaps at defensive tackle followed by 33 for Dusty Dvoracek, who started. Rookie Marcus Harrison had 18 snaps and while the sack of Peyton Manning got great publicity, don't forget about another play he made. Harrison drove center Jamey RIchard clear into the backfield on the fourth-and-one play from the 50-yard line at the start of the fourth quarter with the Bears leading 22-13. That blew up the play right there and allowed Lance Briggs and Adewale Ogunleye to easily stuff running back Dominic Rhodes for a two-yard loss.

The Bears might not be done reworking their offensive line after the trade for guard Dan Buenning last week.

In fact, they made a move for a tackle on Monday only to lose out.

The Bears placed a waiver claim for James Marten, who was released by the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday, but the the third-round pick from 2007 was awarded to the Oakland Raiders, the other team to submit a claim for him.

Dallas had to clear a roster spot to sign a fourth wide receiver, Mike Jefferson, for its game at Cleveland and the team's plan was to add Marten to the practice squad. It's interesting because in choosing to part ways with a high draft pick, the Cowboys kept 11 defensive backs. That gives you an idea of how he had advanced for them. Marten was inactive for every game last season, and spent some time working at guard this summer.

Lovie Smith just wrapped up his Monday afternoon press conference and recapped the action Sunday night:

*** There are no significant injuries to report. He said there are some normal bumps and bruises and everyone should check out OK.

*** He preaches scoring on defense first and the unit responded by putting nine points on the board.

*** Obviously, the running game was praised but Smith pointed out the production on third down where the Bears were 10-for-16.

We're packing up the car and pointing it north on Interstate 65. After we catch some rest, we'll work on recapping some of the things that went into the 29-13 victory.

There wasn't much that went wrong for the Bears and it was a thorough beating.

DT Adams inactive for Bears

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Anthony Adams has gone from being a starter on the depth chart to being inactive.

That's the big pregame surprise at this point. No word yet on who will be starting at nose tackle in place of him. The best guess would be Dusty Dvoracek, but that's only a guess at this point.

Looks like they are rolling back the roof here at Lucas Oil Stadium. They also have windows at one end of the building that will open. It's a beautiful late afternoon/early evening for football.

Commissioner Roger Goodell is on hand and he will field questions soon. We'll see what he thinks about the Bears' quarterback carousel. I mean, we'll check in with him on an expanded regular season. Are you ready for some regular-season football in August?

Couple pregame notes about three hours from the start.

The Tigers wound up shutting out the Warriors in peewee action.

*** Keep an eye on rookie center Jamey Richard, who will start in place of Jeff Saturday tonight for the Colts. He's from the University of Buffalo. If the Bears cannot exploit Indy's inexperience from guard-to-guard it will be a long night.

I'm not sure if it's the glass surrounding parts of the building that you can look out of, or the setup in general, but the Colts new stadium has the look and feel of Ford Field in Detroit.

Locals say the entire RCA Dome can fit inside the new structure here. It's a pretty nice place. They've got a Super Bowl here in the future.

INDIANAPOLIS--Devin Hester did something that's even difficult for Hollywood to pull off.

He made the sequel as good as the original.

So on the verge of several significant NFL records with the start of his third season tonight here at Lucas Oil Stadium, what's next?

"I'm not going to make any predictions on that,'' special teams coordinator Dave Toub said. "Not with the bloops and squibs and punts out of bounds were getting now. It's probably highly unlikely.''

INDIANAPOLIS--Nearly three months after the Bears showed the door to Cedric Benson following his second booze-related arrest in five weeks, the running back has sparked some interest. How serious the interest is remains to be seen.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports that Benson has been there recently for a workout although no contract offer was extended to the No. 4 pick from the 2005 draft.

The day before 26 of the 32 teams kick off the season, here are some quotes and notes:

*** Caught up with running back Kevin Jones and spoke with him briefly about his expectations for the season.

"Right now, I don't have any really," Jones said. "I'm second string running the ball I would say but I don't have any expectations for how it is going to go."

YOU JUST WANT TO BE READY WHEN YOU'RE CALLED ON?

"Right. That's the goal right now. When I get opportunities I need to take advantage of them."

WHAT ARE YOUR PERSONAL GOALS FOR THE SEASON?

"I haven't really set anything. My main goal is to have an impact in the running game. I want to help put us in position to score."

ANY THOUGHTS ON YOUR FORMER TEAM THE LIONS BRINGING IN A VETERAN THIS WEEK IN RUDI JOHNSON?

"I thought they would do that in the offseason. I wasn't surprised they drafted Kevin Smith but I was surprised they didn't draft a running back earlier in the draft but they went with a lineman. I figured they needed one. It's good to have a veteran backup."

Injury report

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Sept, 5

All five players listed are probable and had full participation in practice:

DE Mark Anderson, right thumb
TE Desmond Clark, right knee
DT Dusty Dvoracek, right calf
DT Tommie Harris, left knee
G Terrence Metcalf, right knee

For Indianapolis, DE Curtis Johnson (shoulder) and WR Pierre Garcon (shoulder) are questionable. Johnson had full participation in practice and Garcon was limited.

QB Peyton Manning had full participation and is probable.

Nothing has changed in the Bears' philosophy. They are still a running team, you know the one that gets off the bus running.

Rookie Matt Forte, the second-round pick from Tulane, will lead that rushing attack Sunday night at Indianapolis and by all accounts he's looked good so far. Forte is the second high draft pick the Bears have used in effort to replace Thomas Jones, the bargain pickup who was dealt away to the New York Jets after carrying the offense to Super Bowl XLI.

Cedric Benson
, the man who had been blocked from playing time by Jones, remains out of the league while he winds his way through the Texas judicial system.

"[Forte] is an instant upgrade from what we had here last year," Pro Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs said Wednesday in an appearance on the Score, 670-AM.

Briggs' appearance revealed a story that doesn't always come out, that the players were incensed when Jones was traded to the Jets, not for a draft pick but simply for an opportunity for the Bears to move up in the second round.

"Honestly, more than I am frustrated that Cedric Benson didn't pan out here, I am more frustrated that a guy like Thomas Jones, who was our best offensive weapon for the years that he was here, was traded and let go,'' Briggs said. "Because the guy, Thomas Jones, he was a great, great leader for the Bears. He was a fiery leader. He was a guy that when he got out on the field there were no biases to who he went to and told, `Hey, we need to get this done.'

"He went out and he played hard every day and even when we didn't win our league, the guy gave his whole heart and soul. He was our best offensive player every year that he was here. That was more frustrating, that he's not with us today."

Injury report

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Thursday, Sept. 4

DT Tommie Harris, left knee. Harris participated fully in practice.

DE Mark Anderson, right thumb. Anderson participated fully in practice.

FS Mike Brown, knee. Brown participated fully in practice and was removed from the injury report.

LS Pat Mannelly, neck. Mannelly participated fully in practice and was removed from the injury report.

G Terrence Metcalf, right knee. Metcalf participated fully in practice.

DB Brandon McGowan, knee. McGowan participated fully in practice and was removed from the injury report.

DT Dusty Dvoracek, right calf. Dvoracek participated fully in practice.

TE Desmond Clark, right knee. Clark participated fully in practice.

For the Colts, safety Bob Sanders was held out of practice. The team announced he was rested.

Devin Hester's whereabouts on the field this season will be closely monitored. His progress as a wide receiver will be tracked by fans and opponents alike and his development is no doubt a critical element to the improvement of the offense.

The Indianapolis Colts, starting Sunday night, will be the first to ask where is No. 23?

Hester started the final three preseason games and using that as a barometer for things to come it's fair to assume he will be in that role along with Brandon Lloyd. How much Hester is employed at wide receiver could impact his future wearing No. 23. It's an interesting sidenote as he develops as a receiver because it's not in the group of numbers that can be assigned to full-time wide receivers according to Rule 5, Section 1, Article 2 of the NFL rulebook.

When Hester joined the Bears as a rookie in 2006, he was assigned No. 23 because he was a cornerback. Provided he remains primarily a kick and punt returner, at least according to the club's latest roster, he's perfectly fine wearing No. 23. If he becomes a full-fledged starter at receiver, playing the bulk of the game there, it could become an issue the league has to address. According to the NFL rulebook:

"If a player changes his position during his playing career in the NFL, and such change moves him out of a category specified above, he must be issued an appropriate new jersey numeral."

Injury report

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The first injury report of the season has been released.

We'll try to update them daily on here as they are released, typically around 3 p.m.

A look at the Bears:

Wednesday, Sept. 3

DT Tommie Harris, left knee. Harris participated partially in practice and is expected to be able to start Sunday.

DE Mark Anderson, right thumb. Anderson participated partially in practice and is expected to play Sunday.

FS Mike Brown, knee. Brown participated fully in practice and is expected to start Sunday.

LS Pat Mannelly, neck. Mannelly participated fully in practice and is expected to play Sunday.

G Terrence Metcalf, right knee. Metcalf participated fully in practice for the first time since undergoing arthroscopic surgery more than a month ago.

DB Brandon McGowan, knee. McGowan participated fully in practice and is expected to play Sunday.

DT Dusty Dvoracek, right calf. Dvoracek participated fully in practice and is expected to play Sunday.

TE Desmond Clark, right knee. Clark participated fully in practice and is expected to start Sunday.

Cornerback Zack Bowman, the fifth-round pick from Nebraska, has rejoined the Bears after being signed to the practice squad.

Bowman was waived on Tuesday to make room for guard Dan Buenning, who the Bears traded for to bolster the offensive line.

Veteran guard Dan Buenning passed his physical this morning to complete the trade with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was getting outfitted with equipment in the locker room before practice, which will start in about 15 minutes.

Peyton Manning would not put a percentage on the health of his left knee now seven weeks after he had surgery to remove an infected bursa sac, but said he is ready to continue his consecutive games started streak Sunday night when the Bears visit Lucas Oil Stadium.

Manning has started all 160 regular-season games in his 10-year career, a streak that only trails the one Brett Favre will continue with the New York Jets this season.

"I am certainly ready to play,'' he said this morning in a conference call with Chicago media. "I can't give myself a percentage, I guess. It's kind of been uncharted territory for me, it's been a different challenge for me.

"But I've worked hard to get prepared to play this game and hopefully can have a good week of practice, this week of preparation and I'll go out and hopefully play at a high level."

Before it gets too far out of our minds, we'll take a look at the finances involved in the decisions to release defensive end Dan Bazuin and linebacker Mike Okwo in the final roster cutdown Saturday. Bazuin was a second-round pick in 2007, the 62nd overall selection, and Okwo was a third-round pick, the 94th overall selection.

Click inside here for a look at the numbers:

Dan Buenning Q&A

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Offensive linemen can be a pretty reserved bunch. They never get too high, never get too low and typically let their actions speak for them. So Dan Buenning was about as excited as you'll catch a lineman Tuesday afternoon a short while after he was informed Tampa Bay had traded him to the Bears for the Bucs' sixth-round pick that they already held from the Brian Griese deal.

Buenning worked at center this summer and had more or less been fazed out in Tampa after a strong start to his career there which began when he was a fourth-round pick out of Wisconsin in 2005. He was one of only four rookie linemen in the league to start all 16 games that season and looked to be a fixture for years to come. But then he tore an ACL on Thanksgiving Day in 2006 and when Tampa Bay went young at guard last season with Arron Sears and Davin Joseph, he was on the sideline looking in.

With Jeff Faine getting a big contract to play center for the Bucs, and with another draft pick invested in an interior lineman to add Rutgers' Jeremy Zuttah, who the Bears took a good look at before the draft, Buenning looked out of the mix. He became really out of the mix Tuesday when Tampa Bay swung a deal to acquire Sean Mahan from Pittsburgh.

The Bears have acquired guard Dan Buenning from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a trade. Check back soon for more details.

Not only did the Bears get a fullback who is familiar with Ron Turner's offense when they signed Jason Davis to the practice squad, they got a starting-caliber player.

At least that is the way the Philadelphia Eagles viewed him before making the Illinois product one of their final cuts. Davis had been at the top of the depth chart for the entire offseason and preseason before a move was made in mid-August to try running back Tony Hunt, Penn State's all-time leader in carries, at the position. Hunt won out and Davis was forced to look elsewhere.

It was interesting to survey the action after practice this afternoon at Halas Hall. There was a ton of individual work taking place, from offensive linemen running springs to Devin Hester catching punts, Caleb Hanie working on his footwork and Mark Anderson doing a little extra conditioning. That was just some of it. Most of the roster stayed on the field for an extra 20 minutes or more doing various drills.

***
Tight end Desmond Clark and guard Terrence Metcalf both returned to practice for the first time. Clark suffered a sprained right knee in the second preseason game at Seattle and was wearing a brace. Metcalf had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee a month ago and was also wearing a brace. Both were limited in their work. Anderson also practiced for the first time since fracturing his right thumb at Seattle. He had both hands heavily taped and said he's been able to keep his conditioning up during his time off.

*** The irony of Kyle Orton being voted by teammates as one of the two offensive captains was not lost on those in attendance. Orton takes the role wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad held the last few seasons. You know, the wide receiver who wasn't shy about sharing his feelings about his quarterbacks. Center Olin Kreutz is the other offensive captain. Linebacker Brian Urlacher and safety Mike Brown have the distinction on defense. Long snapper Pat Mannelly is back to being a captain. He held the role for several seasons before it was given to Brendon Ayanbadejo last year.

Hass headed to Gotham

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Wide receiver Mike Hass will have a tryout with the New York Giants on Friday.

Terrence Metcalf, who underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee 27 days ago, is expected to return to practice this afternoon for the first time since suffering swelling in his knee in training camp.

Guard/center Anthony Oakley has been signed to the Arizona Cardinals' practice squad.

Oakley was one of the final cuts on Saturday and he spent the last three seasons with the Bears.

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