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November 2008 Archives

With cornerback Nathan Vasher on injured reserve, rookie wide receiver Earl Bennett will be active for the first time in three weeks. Bennett is needed as the backup punt returner to Devin Hester, a role Vasher previously held. Brandon Rideau was active last week instead of Bennett.

Once again, veteran running back Kevin Jones is inactive as the Bears try to get as many bodies as possible for special teams. The rest of the inactives:

3rd QB Caleb Hanie
FB Jason McKie
G Terrence Metcalf
DT Matt Toeaina
DE Ervin Baldwin

Fullback Jason McKie suffered a quad injury in practice this afternoon and will be listed as questionable for Sunday's game at Minnesota.

That could create some issues as the Bears do not have another fullback on the roster.

Other than that, coach Lovie Smith said everyone else should be ready to go with the exception of cornerback Nathan Vasher, who had his right hand/wrist in a hard cast.

The Bears got good news on the injury front as three starters and two key role players returned to the field for a morning workout in the Walter Payton Center. Tight end Desmond Clark (right knee), strong safety Mike Brown (calf) and defensive tackle Tommie Harris (left knee) all returned to practice on a limited basis. Linebacker Jamar Williams (groin) and wide receiver Marty Booker (knee) also were back at work.

Wide receiver Devin Hester was held out with coach Lovie Smith citing rest.

Nathan Vasher has a fracture in his right hand and reinjured his thumb where he had a pin inserted in October.

Lovie Smith refused to rule him out for the remainder of the season, but said he will not play Sunday.

Corey Graham will start at right cornerback.

Alex Brown had it right on Monday at Halas Hall when he was asked about the resurgent pass rush the Bears broke out in St. Louis.

It's not about the pass rush this week and getting to statuesque quarterback Gus Frerotte. It's about Adrian Peterson and stopping Minnesota's talented running back. Peterson has wasted no time in his short career becoming the thorn in the Bears' side that Randy Moss used to be. He's run for at least two touchdowns in all three meetings with the Bears and the numbers are a little staggering:

The Bears brought fullback Jason Davis back to the practice squad Monday. He was with the team until the Oakland Raiders signed him to their 53-man roster on Oct. 28. Davis was let go in Oakland last week.

To make room for him, fullback Jed Collins was released from the practice squad.

Linebacker Darrell McClover has been placed on inured reserve with a hamstring injury.

McClover was injured last week at Green Bay and did not play at St. Louis.

He was put down to make room for guard Terrence Metcalf.

Bears coach Lovie Smith said that tight end Desmond Clark's right knee injury is "minor" and the veteran left the Edward Jones Dome without a brace or anything like that on Sunday.

Strong safety Mike Brown also suffered only a minor lower leg injury and is also expected to be OK. Brown left the game after the first half and did not return.

ST. LOUIS--The Bears' six-game season just became a five-game season. Here we go.

There is not going to be any time to celebrate today's 27-3 victory over the hapless St. Louis Rams. The Bears travel to Minnesota for an appearance on NBC's "Sunday Night Football" this coming week with both teams 6-5 and the Green Bay Packers (5-5) in a critical game at New Orleans Monday night.

Some rambling thoughts while watching Indianapolis-Green Bay at my hotel in the shadow of the Arch:

*** Matt Forte looked strong in rushing for a season-high 132 yards on 20 carries. The 47-yard touchdown run he had in the second quarter helped boost his season average to 4.0 yards per carry. That's a nice plateau to reach and if he can improve it down the stretch, that will bode very well for the Bears. With 909 yards on the season (fifth in the league), Forte is on pace to have 1,322 yards and that could secure offensive rookie of the year honors for him when considering he already has six rushing touchdowns and three touchdown catches.

*** If tight end Desmond Clark is out for any length of time with his right knee injury, offensive coordinator Ron Turner is going to have to take a long look at the playbook. The offense has been very reliant on double tight end sets and Clark is far and away the best blocker of the group. Third tight end Kellen Davis is a rookie and turning to him for the 40-plus snaps a game Clark has been getting would be turning yo an unproven player.

The Bears' win here will come at a cost. The question is how steep it will be.

Cornerback Nathan Vasher just headed to the locker room with a right thumb injury that will knock him out. It's the same thumb he had surgery on at the start of October.

Tight end Desmond Clark is also done with a right knee injury and also just went to the locker room.

How far behind is third-round draft pick Earl Bennett?

The wide receiver is inactive for today's game with the St. Louis Rams, losing a roster spot to Brandon Rideau, who was officially promoted from the practice squad on Saturday.

Bennett has dressed for five games this season but has yet to have a reception. The Bears need another wide receiver today with veteran Marty Booker sidelined with a bone bruise in his knee.

Veteran offensive tackle Fred Miller will undergo shoulder surgery early next month. He was placed on season-ending injured reserve today, making space for wide receiver Brandon Rideau to be promoted from the practice squad. Miller injured his shoulder last season and it flared up recently. Team medical personnel recommended that he have it cleaned up.

Colin Cole's price for toppling Devin Hester on the sideline after the returner was out of bounds last Sunday at Green Bay is apparently only 15 yards.

An NFL spokesman said Cole was not fined on the play for which he drew a penalty for unnecessary roughness. Cole was not involved in the play in which Hester was run out of bounds by Tramon Williams. The Bears had submitted the play to the league office for review and were confident Cole would be levied for the hit.

``I just know we're going to show it before we see them next time,'' special teams coordinator Dave Toub said earlier in the week. ``We've got to show it to the players. I was [mad] when I saw it on film. We didn't know what was going on from our sideline. What are you going to do?''

Wide receiver Brandon Rideau will sign a contract and be promoted from the practice squad to the 53-man roster on Friday.

Rideau led the league with three touchdown catches during preseason and was one of the final cuts despite a productive summer. At 6-3, 198 pounds, he adds a dimension to the roster the team doesn't have at the position.

It's unknown at this point whether or not Rideau will be active on Sunday at St. Louis, but veteran Marty Booker missed practice the last two days with a knee injury and Rideau has been getting a crash course on special teams this week after practice.

Through happenstance or by design, Lance Briggs has become the unofficial spokesman for the Bears' 19th-ranked defense.

He's the player that is trotted out behind the podium at Halas Hall every Thursday at noon to take questions at large on the defense, lately queries about why the Bears can't stop the pass, can't rush the quarterback and now all of a sudden can't stop the run.

For weeks, Briggs has maintained that the unit can be dominant and great again with one caveat--when it wants to be. So the question moving into Week 12, and on the heels of a 37-3 drubbing Sunday at Lambeau Field, is when the Bears will desire to be good again.

"I think it's tough," he said. "We know what we have been, I know what we can be and the thing about it is we're fighting for something right now and that's what we have to do. We've been saying it for a long time, I said this defense will play great football when we decide. Our problems are not from our coaching, it's not from the technique, it's not from the defense. It is within ourselves and that's something that we have to solve within our own selves, within our group."

Bears trailing at the polls

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In a presidential election year, big numbers showed up at the polls but that doesn't mean Bears fans are getting out and voting.

The Bears are doing worse in fan balloting this season than in any year in recent memory. The NFL released numbers on Tuesday and the Bears do not have a leader at any position. Brian Urlacher is second among inside linebacker and Devin Hester, despite a prolonged slump, is second among kick returners.

Fan balloting continues through Dec. 9 and counts one-third in the selection process with players and coaches getting a third of the say each.

The Bears typically do well in fan balloting as do the teams that are playing well at the time. Perhaps the election, with the implications in Washington, got Redskins fans out in mass. They lead voting at 16 positions.

Terrence Metcalf has rejoined the Bears and was at Halas Hall Monday, but he will not be eligible to take the playing field until the club makes room for him on the roster.

Metcalf was removed from the suspended list Monday and the Bears have received a one-week exemption for the veteran guard. That means he can practice and do everything else but he is not eligible for the game day roster until a move is made to create a roster space. The Bears currently have 54 players, including Metcalf.

The third-round pick from 2002 was suspended four games by the NFL for violation of the league's policy on anabolic steroids and related substances. That suspension ended with Sunday's game at Green Bay. No telling what kind of move the club makes to create room for Metcalf, who lost $211,765 through the suspension. Linebacker Darrell McClover has a hamstring injury that could put him in jeopardy with only six games remaining.

NBC will not opt for another game on Nov. 30.

The Bears and Vikings will play on NBC at 7:15 p.m. The NFC North rivals are tied for first place and it's an attractive game for the network because Chicago is the league's second-largest media market and NBC believes Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is an attractive player to showcase.

There is not going to be any pretty way for the Bears to paint this one when they open the doors to the media at Halas Hall a little later on today.

The familiar coaching refrain is that after reviewing game film, it's never as good as you thought it was going to be and it's never as bad as you thought it was going to be.

What didn't stink about the 37-3 loss to Green Bay Sunday at Halas Hall?

We'll let coach Lovie Smith fill us in on that later on.

First, a few tidbits:

*** The awful defensive effort dropped the Bears to 19th overall in the league on defense pending the outcome of the Monday night tilt in Buffalo with Cleveland. The Bears fell to sixth vs. the run after being trampled for 200 yards rushing, and remained 30th vs. the pass.

You say points is the ultimate statistics, and I say you're right. The Bears are now 21st overall. That's not what they're paying for.

Linebacker Darrell McClover, the second-leading special teams tackler, is out of the game with a hamstring injury.

Running back Kevin Jones, who has gotten just two carries the last two games, will not be active today. Jones is not injured although he did miss one practice this past week for personal reasons and was excused.

Linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer is active after missing two games following surgery on his right thumb. Wide receiver Brandon Lloyd will play for the first time since Sept. 28 when he injured his left knee.

Hillenmeyer will not have his starting job back though. Nick Roach starts on the strong side.

Orton warming up on the field

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Kyle Orton is warming up with quarterbacks coach Pep Hamilton while he visits with Fox broadcaster Troy Aikman.

We should have official inactives any minute.

NFL Network will air the classic William "Refrigerator" Perry game at Lambeau Field from the 1985 season this evening at 8 p.m.

This is the game in which the Fridge came out of the backfield as a fullback to catch a touchdown pass from Jim McMahon. Walter Payton rushes for 192 yards in the game.

The game will re-air on NFL Network at 2 a.m. and then again Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m.

Three Bears probable

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The official injury report came out and quarterback Kyle Orton is indeed probable with his right ankle injury. Orton had limited participation in practice as did cornerback Charles Tillman (shoulders). Linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer (right thumb) had full participation. Hillenmeyer and Tillman are probable also.

Offensive tackle Fred Miller (shoulder) will not dress. He is doubtful and was held out of practice the last two days.

Kyle Orton announced after practice Friday that he will be probable for Sunday's game at Green Bay, meaning the Bears' quarterback will return to the starting lineup after missing one game with a right ankle injury.

Orton worked with the first team again in the short practice at Halas Hall and will test out the ankle again Saturday in a brief walk-through before the team travels by bus to Green Bay.

"Kyle looked better today than he did [Thursday],'' coach Lovie Smith said. ``So we're keeping our fingers crossed with him. See how it goes for him [Saturday], but he's gotten better each day, there's no reason to think that won't continue [through] Sunday.''

Kyle Orton looked OK on the Halas Hall fields Wednesday afternoon until it came time to drop back on a few warmup passes. Then, he looked a little gimpy on his right ankle, and he was limited in his participation in practice. There are four days until the Bears face the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field, and the quarterback remains confident he will be able to return in time to start.

"I'm preparing like I am,'' he said. "Just going to go from there."

He said he feels better than he did Sunday when he missed a game because of injury for the first time in his career. He's yet to face the Packers in Green Bay.

"This is what you play for, play Green Bay, play your division rivals in November," Orton said. "We're in first place. These are huge games from here on out. This is what I put the effort in for so I am going to do everything I can to be out there."

From the sounds of things, Brandon Lloyd will be 100 percent by kickoff Sunday at Green Bay.

In fact, the wide receiver might have been 100 percent this past Sunday against Tennessee when he was made inactive before the game by coach Lovie Smith.

Visiting with Dan Hampton and Laurence Holmes on The Score 670-AM Tuesday, Lloyd said he fully expects to suit up against the Packers after missing the last five games with a sprained posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. (Listen to the entire interview here). He's had the bye plus those five weeks to heal up an injury that was expected to sideline him two to four weeks. Despite missing all of the time, Lloyd (15 catches, 249 yards, one touchdown) is just 84 yards behind the leading wide receiver on the team--Rashied Davis (28 catches, 333 yards).

"The plan is to play against Green Bay,'' Lloyd told Hampton and Holmes. "That's the plan. It's not a secret. This is not a surprise. That's the plan. I know you guys are going to have fun with everybody's comments but you know, like I just said earlier, there's no point in me being out there and not being able to do the things I was able to do to make this team successful. It's not fair to me. It's not fair to the team."

Perhaps it is with an eye toward jump-starting a lethargic pass rush that the Bears promoted rookie seventh-round pick Ervin Baldwin to the active roster today from the practice squad.

The defensive end joins the mix after veteran safety Terrence Holt was released, ending a three-week stay on the roster for him.

Baldwin joins a veteran group at defensive end that already has starters Alex Brown and Adewale Ogunleye and reserve Mark Anderson. Holt was expendable with Danieal Manning returning from a hamstring pull.

For all the hoopla surrounding the Bears' struggles defending the pass lately, especially Sunday against Tennessee, we went back and took a look at the tape of Kerry Collins' 42 drop backs.

A central complaint of defensive linemen, tired of hearing they are not generating enough pressure on the passer, has been that they're pretty much helpless against an onslaught of three-step drops. Well, we found nine by Collins from under center. We broke the pass plays down into five categories, first giving plays in the shotgun their own category. Then, we charted three-step drops from under center, five-step drops from under center, seven-step drops from under center and finally the play-fake rollouts Collins did, which seemed to warrant their own category.

We're not going to pretend to be able to diagnose with certainty what call the Bears were in on every down, so we will not try. But here's what we came up with when tabulating the results:

It was a sparse crowd in open locker room this afternoon at Halas Hall but cornerback Nathan Vasher stopped to chat about the shortcomings of the defense. We'll check in later with some comments and analysis of the situation.

After coaches' review of the game, linebacker Lance Briggs was credited with a team-high 13 tackles (nine solos) in the 21-14 loss to Tennessee, valuting him ahead of strong safety Kevin Payne for the team lead with 78 tackles. Payne is next with 77 after notching 11.

The Green Bay Packers' defense that has had difficulty stopping the run all season just took a significant hit with news linebacker Nick Barnett will miss the remainder of the season with a torn knee ligament.

Minnesota's Adrian Peterson rolled for 192 yards in the Vikings' 28-27 victory over the Packers Sunday at the Metrodome.

That was not just a good outing by the Bears when it came to stopping Tennessee's two-headed running game Sunday. It was a great effort, marking just the fifth time in the last 21 seasons the Bears have held an opponent to 20 yards on the ground or less.

A look at those games:

Nov. 9, 2008 Tennessee 28 rushes, 20 yards L, 14-21
Nov. 18, 2001 Tampa Bay 15 rushes, 19 yards W, 27-24
Nov. 9, 2003 Detroit 20 rushes, 17 yards L, 12-10
Oct. 28, 1996 Minnesota 14 rushes, 11 yards W, 15-13
Oct. 2, 1988 Buffalo 10 rushes, 0 yards W, 24-3

The Bears' run defense could not have been any better than it was in the 21-14 loss to Tennessee this afternoon.

The Titans were held to 20 yards rushing on 29 carries. Any time a team has more runs for no gain or a loss of yardage than it does actual gains, well, the defense is working.

But there was no answer for Kerry Collins, the quarterback who came in having not passed for 200 yards this season. Yeah, the same guy who had gone the last three games without throwing a touchdown pass.

That didn't stop the Bears from making him look like a new man as Collins passed for 289 yards, completing 30-of-41 passes. He had two touchdown passes and was sacked just once as the pass rush was minimal, at best, even with an array of blitzes.

Graham remains at nickel

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After missing two games with a pulled hamstring, Danieal Manning has returned to action this week.

He has ntot returned to his role as the nickel back.

Corey Graham manned the position on the first third down of the game. He cut down Titans wide receiver Brandon Jones for a two-yard loss on the play, leading to a Tennessee punt.

We'll see what kind of role Manning has beyond special teams responsibilities.

Kyle Orton (right ankle) will serve as the third quarterback today after testing out his injury a while ago.

Wide receiver Brandon Lloyd will miss his fifth consecutive game with a sprained posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. He practiced all week and was probable on the injury report. Same thing goes for linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer, who will miss his second game following surgery on his right thumb.

UPDATED: Defensive back Danieal Manning will play after missing two games with a pulled hamstring. Nick Roach will start in place of Hillenmeyer.

For Tennessee, weak-side linebacker Keith Bulluck will extend his streak of consecutive starts to 106 games. He is playing with torn rib cartilage and will not be 100 percent. Dave Ball will start in place of Vanden Bosch. He made seven tackles and a sack in replacing Vanden Bosch last week when he left the Titans' win over Green Bay in the first quarter.

Through recent experience the Bears know how the hype of an undefeated season can creep into discussion. They started 7-0 two seasons ago, not even getting to the halfway point before it became a national point of discussion with Joe Theismann predicting the Bears could run the table.

Tennessee enters today's game perfect through the first half of the season at 8-0. Of the eight teams the Titans have defeated, only one has a winning record right now.

If talk of perfection is going on in Nashville, Tenn., it's not happening in the club's locker room. Defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch told's Alex Marvez that the Titans expect to lose. Maybe even a couple games. That doesn't mean Tennessee, a three-point favorite today, is predicting doom today. But the Titans know the reality of the NFL. They also know 16-0 did the New England Patriots little good when they got to the postseason last year.

A week after the Bears played on one of the worst surfaces at Soldier Field the team has experienced in years, the team and the Chicago Park District had the playing surface tarped over night.

A crew is just beginning to remove the tarp now for pregame warmups. The decision last week to leave the field untarped was made the by the team and the park district. The field took on about 1/10 of an inch of rain nine hours before the game, and a team official explained there was little wind to dry the surface. Team PR director Scott Hagel said tarping the field, in that instance, might have led to the surface being even wetter because of condensation that would have built up under the tarp.

At any rate, the field has a massive sheet of blue over it now and it should be uncovered in the next half-hour or so.

The Bears just released their injury report for Sunday's meeting with Tennessee and quarterback Kyle Orton is doubtful, meaning you can repeat the popular phrase "Rex is our quarterback" this weekend.

Cornerback Charles Tillman is questionable with shoulder injuries after being limited in practice but he is expected to play.

The NFL continued its consistent pattern of coming down on players who bring down opponents with horse-collar tackles.

Detroit Lions safety Kalvin Pearson has been fined $7,500 for his horse-collar tackle of Devin Hester on a punt return in the fourth quarter of the game last Sunday. It came at the end of a 20-yard return. The penalty set the Bears up on their own 46-yard line for what turned out to be the game-winning drive.

Setback for CB Tillman

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Cornerback Charles Tillman, who has battled injuries to both shoulders for nearly a month now, had some type of setback following practice Thursday.

He is expected to be listed as questionable for Sunday's game after limited work in practice Friday. Tillman had been held out on Wednesday with the club using "rest" as the official reason. He returned to full participation on Thursday, when he was removed from the injury report.

Now, he's back on it and there is at least some doubt as to whether or not he will participate.

Proving once again he does not have a high ankle sprain, the kind of injury that would sideline an athlete six weeks, Kyle Orton took to the practice field Friday at Halas Hall and did limited work. While chances are Rex Grossman will start Sunday against Tennessee, Orton said not to rule him out and has continued to make progress, enough to allow him to suit up today.

"I can't go that far,'' coach Lovie Smith said when asked if Orton did enough to be on the field Sunday. "He's making progress, this is the first day he's actually where he's able to do anything so making progress, beyond that don't know."

Based on his past performances, Devin Hester would have about three return touchdowns by this point in the season.

He entered the year averaging a score every 13.8 returns and has yet to have one with 33 returns (20 kickoff, 13 punt) this season, fueling speculation for weeks that he is in a slump. His mentor Deion Sanders said the slump is on the special teams unit, though, not the return man.

"You should be worried about the 10 guys is blocking for Devin Hester," Sanders said Thursday in a visit with Tom Waddle and Marc Silverman on ESPN-1000. "That should be your concern. Devin, I think he's been doing well as a receiver. You really need to give him the ball a little more. I think he had his breakout game against the Atlanta Falcons. He looked great and he just needs more opportunities. As far as the return game, I think you're looking at different faces on the return unit that's normally blocking for him because Devin hadn't forgotten how to run, how to maneuver at all.''

Quarterback Kyle Orton is missing practice again this afternoon while he continues to rehabilitate his sprained right ankle. The Bears are practicing outside in the steady rain instead of moving inside to the Walter Payton Center.

Veteran free safety Mike Brown is back at practice on a limited basis after missing Wednesday's workout. He suffered a right calf strain late in the second quarter Sunday against Detroit and said he is feeling much better. In the past, it's the kind of injury that Brown probably would have tested in a game. He felt a twinge when he went to break out of his backpedal.

"Back in the day, I definitely would have tried to go back on the field and probably would've ended up hurting myself pretty bad,'' he said. "It wasn't something that was too painful. There were some things I was limited in doing like when I tried to get back out and warm up and see if I could continue. You know, back pedaling was a problem. That's what I do in the secondary. I didn't think it was too bad. Obviously, the MRI showed that. There's really nothing wrong with it. It's just more of a twinge than anything."

Veteran NFL referee Ed Hochuli and his crew will work a Bears game for the first time this season Sunday when Tennessee comes to town.

Hochuli came under intense scrutiny after a blown call in the San Diego-Denver meeting in Week 2 that led to the Broncos winning 39-38.

There have been a number of high-profile mistakes by the league's officiating crews this season but none has gotten more attention that the gaffe by Hochuli that he quickly admitted to making. The league, however, says officiating is as good as it has been in recent history.

Looks like the Bears will be turning to Rex Grossman.

Kyle Orton was carted off the field with less than a minute to play in the first half when his right ankle was twisted badly at the end of a scramble. Orton was running toward the Detroit sideline on third-and-two at the Lions' 35-yard line and was brought down from behind by tackle Cory Redding. As he was being brought down, defensive end Dewayne White joined the pile and he twised Orton's foot.

As expected, the Bears have their veterans back in the starting lineup at cornerback, and first-round draft pick Chris Williams will be active for the first time in his career.

Charles Tillman and Nathan Vasher are both starting today against the Detroit Lions, relegating Corey Graham to a reserve role.

Strong-side linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer will miss the game following surgery on his right thumb and will be replaced by Nick Roach, who gets his first career start.

Wide receiver Brandon Lloyd will miss his fourth consecutive game with a sprained posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. Lloyd, who has been out more than a month, was originally expected to miss two to four weeks.

Graham's playing time could come at nickel cornerback with Danieal Manning (hamstring) sidelined.

Williams takes the gameday roster spot of Fred Miller, who is inactive.

Hillenmeyer looks to be out

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No official word yet, but almost 90 minutes before kickoff it looks like strong-side linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer will be sidelined today, breaking a snap of 37 consecutive games.

He's sitting on the bench and has a small brace on his right thumb, which he had repaired by surgery a little more than a week ago.

Nick Roach, expected to start in his place, is warming up on the field.

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This page is an archive of entries from November 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

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