Chicago Sun-Times

October 2009 Archives

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There will surely be some tributes to Walter Payton this weekend in many of the various media outlets in the city as Sunday marks the 10th anniversary of his death. The Sun-Times will have a story in the Sunday edition.

The Bears are going to have a ceremony honoring the Hall of Fame running back at halftime of their game with the Cleveland Browns at Soldier Field. Perhaps no athlete was a greater representative of the franchise than Sweetness. The NFL named its Man of the Year award after him following his death, a tribute to the impact he had as a player and a person.

I started at the Sun-Times a little more than 10 years ago, and remember one of my first tasks of significance being to put together a myriad of statistical packages on Payton for a special section. I never covered Payton, whose career ended after the 1987 season, and I never saw him play in person. But you couldn't miss his greatness watching on television. I am sure many of the regular readers here have terrific memories of Payton both watching him and perhaps some personal memories.

The halftime ceremony will include a video tribute. Payton's family will be on hand with his former teammate and blocking buddy Matt Suhey. Fans attending the game are being encouraged to wear their Payton jerseys.

Getting last week off has gotten defensive tackle Tommie Harris in a good frame of mind.

There's a good chance that had as much to do with his own little bye week as much as his left knee, and now he's ready to roll Sunday against the Cleveland Browns.

"Yeah, greatly,'' Harris said when asked if the time off helped. ``It helped a lot.

"[Lovie Smith] knows what I can do, and everybody knows what I can do. I don't have to prove anything to anybody. It's all about I prove it to myself, I owe it to my teammates, I owe it to this organization to get back to tip-top shape, so that's what I'm doing.''

Asked about his chronic left knee, Harris said "I don't even think that was an issue,'' lending more credence to the theory that Harris was sat down by Smith as a wakeup call two weeks after the Bears had a real bye week. The Sun-Times reported on Monday that Harris said his knee was not the reason for the benching last Sunday at Cincinnati when the Bears were blown out 45-10 in one of the worst performances of the Smith era.

Harris is fine with the expectations that have been placed on him, and understands the scrutiny.

It's a complex time in the NFL when it comes to the labor issues, and Bears players held a union meeting at the end of the day on Thursday where kicker Robbie Gould and wide receiver Rashied Davis were selected as alternate representatives to the NFLPA.

Linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer is the team's player rep, and attended the meetings in Hawaii in March when DeMaurice Smith was elected as the executive director of the players association. The vote was needed because Mike Brown and John Tait, both ex-Bears, served roles in the past.

Defensive end Adewale Ogunleye returned to the practice squad this afternoon, maybe with an eye on being able to face ex-Bear John St. Clair on Sunday at Soldier Field.

The Bears and Cleveland Browns essentially flipped offensive tackles when Cleveland signed St. Clair in free agency, and the Bears turned around and picked up Shaffer after he was cut loose. St. Clair is starting at right tackle for the Browns, where Ogunleye often faced him in training camp and in the offseason.

"It's going to be fun going against him,'' Ogunleye said. "I'm just going to say that he tries hard. He's the kind of guy that goes in every game and busts his ass, excuse me, busts his tail. He's the kind of guy that you want on your team, so he's a good guy."

Ogunleye had two sacks in the opener vs. Green Bay's Allen Barbre and 2 1/2 a month ago against Detroit's Gosder Cherilus, but he's been shut out in the other games. The Bears' pass rush has been shut out the last two games. According to Stats Inc., St. Clair surrendered 10 of the Bears' 29 sacks last season, most on the team.

With Frank Omiyale headed to the bench and Josh Beekman becoming the starting left guard, I thought it would be good to dig up some statistics when it comes to pass protection.

Stats Inc. keeps track of the statistic and it should be noted that it's a subjective analysis. Thus far, the Bears have allowed 11 sacks of quarterback Jay Cutler, putting them on pace to have 29. That's the same number they allowed last season with a very different line. The numbers never add up to the exact total because some sacks are deemed coverage sacks or pinned on the quarterback, not a lineman or a blocker.

Here is how the Bears break down right now protecting Cutler:

Orlando Pace 2 1/2
Greg Olsen 2
Garrett Wolfe 2
Chris Williams 1
Roberto Garza 1/2
Olin Kreutz 1/2
Frank Omiyale 1/2

Lovie Smith was exasperated when asked if there will be changes on the offensive line, particularly at left guard where it is believed Josh Beekman took reps with the first team on Wednesday.

"We don't want to give the opponent an advantage. We want them to wonder what we're going to do, like you are right now,'' Smith said. "That's the way it's been throughout. So it's not like there's something new that I'm coming up with right now.

"OK, I'm not going to talk about anything personnel-wise. To me that's pretty clear. If that's all you want to talk about there's nothing else to talk about."

General manager Jerry Angelo announced that he expected some potential changes in personnel on the team's Web site this morning.

"I don't want to go too far into this, but certainly there are things that need to be corrected and things that we need to do better,'' Angelo said. "Do we need to look at some personnel? Yeah, we do. There's some of that going on as you'll see Sunday. But we can't overreact. I feel very confident that Lovie [Smith] and his staff see that and will get the wrongs righted. We're going to focus on what we can control, and that's Sunday's game against Cleveland."

Offensive coordinator Ron Turner wouldn't say if a change is in the works on the offensive line, and Josh Beekman said he was headed to meetings after practice this afternoon, declining to stop and answer questions if he has been working with the first team in practice.

"You'll have to talk to Lovie about that,'' Turner said when asked if Frank Omiyale will maintain his starting job at left guard.

There is a possibility the Bears could rotate left guards starting in Sunday's game vs. Cleveland at Soldier Field.

"We could do anything. Have we talked about it? Are we going to? It hasn't even been discussed,'' Turner said. "We have a bunch of issues we're trying to straighten out. Could we [rotate left guards]? Sure.''

Smith wouldn't address the situation, however.

Defensive tackle Tommie Harris is practicing for the first time on a Wednesday this season, but end Adewale Ogunleye is sidelined with an ankle injury that must have been suffered in the loss at Cincinnati.

Harris was benched last week by coach Lovie Smith, who was very direct Monday when he said that Harris would need to be on the practice field. He is expected to start on Sunday vs. Cleveland.

The players were loose and talkative during the beginning of practice when media was allowed to survey the action, a sign that they've put the 35-point loss to the Bengals behind them.

There is no expenses-paid trip to Hawaii in it for the players this season.

But they still might appreciate your vote. The NFL made the decision for this season to move the all-star game to the site of the Super Bowl. That means the Pro Bowl will be played Jan. 31 in Miami, and no players from the Super Bowl clubs will be involved in the game. The short turnaround for players on the losing sides of the AFC and NFC Championship Games might not be too interested in wearing a helmet and pads the next week either.

The NFL opened the online polls for Pro Bowl voting on Monday. This link right here will take you directly to your own ballot. Balloting will end when the Packers-Bears game at Soldier Field concludes on Monday, Dec. 21. The Pro Bowl teams will be announced Dec. 29.

Tommie Harris was right on the money Sunday after the game in Cincinnati when he said the condition of his left knee had nothing to do with him sitting out the game.

Lovie Smith confirmed as much at his press conference this afternoon when he said that it was his decision for Harris to sit out last week and the game with an eye toward getting Harris energized for the remainder of the season. The message Harris sent was very clear: If you want to play, you need to practice. Harris has been taking Wednesday practices off, and last week Smith said enough is enough, take the week off.

Harris told the Sun-Times on Sunday that it wasn't true he missed the game because of pain in his left knee.

"There isn't anything wrong with Tommie,'' Smith said. "It was more a coach's decision as much as anything. I thought we had better options.

"Could Tommie have played if I wanted him to? Yes, but I thought we could get a better Tommie if we let him rest.''

It marks two bye weeks in a span of three weeks for Harris. The underlying tone was Smith wants to see more from Harris on the practice field and on Sundays. It's a catch-22 the Bears and Harris are in. He needs to practice more to become better as a player, but he also needs to rest to preserve his left knee. A team source said he received extra treatments on his knee last week, and Smith said repeatedly he was dealing with pain. There is not a new injury.

We will see if Bears coach Lovie Smith moves to take some of the guesswork out of the Tommie Harris' situation when his press conference begins in a little less than 90 minutes.

Know this: There's been considerable guesswork with members of the organization, Harris included, saying completely different stories about him missing Sunday's 45-10 loss at Cincinnati.

The belief is that Harris was inactive for the game--and three practices last week--because the Bears made an organizational decision to rest Harris. He had been experiencing pain in his left knee, as Smith said repeatedly last week. He did receive extra treatments on the knee as a team source said. Finally, he has not been playing up to the expectations the team holds for him, so combining all three factors, a decision was made to sit him out of the game vs. the Bengals.

Harris told the Sun-Times after the game Sunday that he did not sit out because of pain in the knee, and pointed out that he worked out on the Pal Brown Stadium turf prior to kickoff.

The NFL has changed ownership rules that could make it easier for the Bears to remain in the control of the McCaskey family for decades to come.

The Sports Business Journal reported this morning that the league voted two weeks ago at meetings in Boston to ease ownership requirements for a controlling owner that make succession plans easier for family-owned organizations and probably could have made a recent transition by the Rooney family much easier with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Previously, a controlling owner had to own at least 20 percent of the club with family members owning at least another 10 percent. In the revised format, a single controlling owner now need own only 10 percent of the franchise with other family members owning at least 20 percent to get to the same number of 30 percent. Prior to 2004, according to the report, a controlling owner had to have at least 30 percent, a figure that is more challenging with the rising values of franchises.

Forbes estimated the value of the Bears at $1.082 billion in September. So, the difference in a 10 percent stake in the team is in the range of $100 million. This will greatly aid family-owned teams looking to keep the family business in tact. Dallas, New England and New Orleans were cited as other family-operated organizations.

The report states that the Bears have been pushing for eased restrictions for years: "Several years ago, Mike McCaskey, son of 86-year-old Chicago Bears owner Virginia McCaskey approached the league about relaxing its ownership requirements. The league rebuffed him at the time, but at least on paper, a path to ownership now would be easier for him."

CINCINNATI--I'm pushing off to the airport here very soon but I wanted to put together some contrasting takes on the situation involving Tommie Harris and why he did not play Sunday in the 45-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

That's because this story is becoming more bizarre. I wrote about it here in the print and online edition of the newspaper but want to use this space to tie together the comments by the men involved and let their words speak.

First, here is what we know: Harris did not practice any day last week. Coach Lovie Smith said following the loss at Atlanta that Harris was dealing with soreness in his chronic left knee. He was listed on the injury report all week, and was classified as doubtful Friday afternoon when the final report came out.

Harris did some work on the field at Paul Brown Stadium about two hours before kickoff, not unlike work rehabbing players do from time to time before games even when they're not playing. It didn't look to be anything too rigorous. He was in shorts and a T-shirt. Anyway, let's back up to last week first.

General manager Jerry Angelo appeared on WSCR 670-AM last Thursday morning, before Harris had missed his second practice of the week, and was asked about the player:

"Tommie is healthy. That is not an issue,'' Angelo said.

"We've seen the flashes during the games. So I feel good he has the physical traits to continue to be a top rusher and really that is what we're looking for Tommie to do. On Sunday, we haven't seen the consistency, I think he would say the same thing. Parts are there but again the tape is the tape. We'll continue to coach him and monitor him. Hopefully we're going to see the things he can do on a real basis for four quarters.''

CINCINNATI--Where do you start after a game like this?

The New York papers have been hammering the Brooke Hundley-n-Steve Phillips affair all week ... and this debacle was that kind of ugly. This was the worst Bears' game I've witnessed in nine seasons, eclipsing the 49-7 season-opening loss at San Francisco ijn 2003 because there were no expectations for that team.

"I had forgot about the ('03 opener in San Francisco), I thought that was the only time it had happened,'' tight end Desmond Clark said.

Well, Dez, I apologize for bringing it back in your memory.

"This is a far better team than that team back in '03,'' he said. "This is probably even more embarrassing because as much talent as we have on this team, we shouldn't lose like this."

The Bears were bad all the way around in today's stunning 45-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. They were awful on defense, never got started on offense and couldn't make any kind of difference whatsoever on special teams. They were outplayed, unprepared and run over.

One person compared it to the 37-3 loss the Bears suffered at Green Bay last November but that's apples to oranges. The offense played with quarterback Kyle Orton coming off a serious ankle injury. The defense had the wrong gameplan--it planned to stop Aaron Rodgers and Ryan Grant overran the Bears.

Expectations are different for this Bears' team. Jay Cutler is at quarterback and the offense is supposed to be able to keep them in games. The expectations are this is a playoff team. Instead, the Bears are 3-3 and they've lost two straight. They have the gift of all gifts with the Cleveland Browns coming to Soldier Field next week. The only thing easier might be if the league moved up the date with the St. Louis Rams. I watched the very end of the Arizona-New York Giants game from the hotel tonight, and all of a sudden that visit from the Cardinals on Nov. 8 looks like one tough matchup. Go ahead and circle that ballgame as the one that might decide whether or not the Bears do anything this season.

"[Fans] don't have to adjust their expectations,'' Cutler said. "Everyone in the NFL wants to win the Super Bowl. We have those expectations. We still think we have a good football team, and we still think we can make a run.''

Here are 10 random thoughts/nuggets coming out of this horror show:

1. Chad Ochocinco has the play to back up his formidable Twitter account. That was a clinic he displayed vs. Charles Tillman, who had played so well in the previous six weeks vs. Roddy White and Calvin Johnson. Ochocinco is a sideshow like no other in the NFL, but he runs terrific routes and he makes plays. For all the buildup he gave his samba tribute to Ronaldinho, I was disappointed. Could he have toned down the celebration out of respect for the Bears? That's my only guess.

2. Speaking of Ochocinco, did you catch linebacker Lance Briggs trying to cover him across the middle of the field on that one play early in the second quarter that went for a 14-yard gain? Hey, Briggs has terrific lateral range and covers backs and tight ends well, but Ochocinco? No mas.

3. Cedric Benson's start to the season isn't a fluke. He ran hard for a career-high 189 yards and he had 200 on his mind, why else did he keep subbing back into the game as the final minutes ticked off the clock? Here's what I can't understand--does anyone believe the Bears when they say they knew he was this talented back, this guy that has proven he can be a workhorse back in the NFL?

"I saw the same thing I saw when he was with us,'' offensive coordinator Ron Turner said. "He's a good football player that runs hard.''

Come on. If the Bears believed this was who Benson was, they would have waited for the wheels of justice to turn in Texas, for Benson to be acquitted on his two booze-related arrests. The fact is the Bears believed strongly that Benson was not guilty in the Lake Travis arrest. Neither case even went to trial. They dumped Benson after spending $13.8 million on him because they didn't believe he was a top running back. Period.

UPDATED: Rotowire reports that Benson was carrying the ball at the end of the game because Bernard Scott and Jeremi Johnson both suffered minor injuries.

CINCINNATI--Hunter Hillenmeyer will play for the first time since Sept. 27 at Seattle when he suffered two broken ribs.

He is returning to action back at his familiar spot at strong-side linebacker. This will be Hillenmeyer's 50th career start on the strong side. Nick Roach will start at middle linebacker, making his third career start there.

Roach has led the defense in tackles over the last two games with 20 while playing in the middle.

This will be the fifth different combination of starting linebackers the Bears have used this season. Here is a look at how it's gone:

CINCINNATI--Defensive end Gaines Adams is active and will make his debut with the Bears this afternoon.

He took the place of defensive tackle Tommie Harris on the 45-man gameday roster and the Bears will rely on Marcus Harrison and Israel Idonije to man the under tackle position. Accordingly, rookie third-round draft pick Jarron Gilbert is inactive. This is the fourth game he has not dressed for, and Gilbert has appeared in just one, vs. Detroit.

Wide receiver Devin Aromashodu is active for the second consecutive week, and I am interested to see if he gets worked into the rotation at wide receiver. He played on special teams last week at Atlanta. Aromashodu emerged as a favorite target of Jay Cutler during training camp and preseason. We'll see if they make some room for him in the rotation.

Here are the inactives for the Bears:

G Lance Louis
DE Jarron Gilbert
DT Tommie Harris
DT Matt Toeaina
RB Adrian Peterson
LB Pisa Tinoisamoa
CB D.J. Moore
WR Juaquin Iglesias

Let's dip into the mailbag for a question that I have received from a number of readers:

Q: Why haven't the Bears placed Pisa Tinoisamoa on injured reserve yet? What are the Bears doing? Why wait?

Patrick F., Miami

A: That's a good question, and I think there are probably a couple explanations to it. For starters, realize that there are not any prizes on the street right now. Check out the rosters of the St. Louis Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans and some of the other real woeful NFL teams right now. They would have jumped on difference makers weeks ago.

There have been a few e-mails that have suggested that the Bears are waiting to make a move to save money. I don't believe that is the case, and I've certainly pointed out instances in the past where it's appeared the organization has gone on the cheap. The Bears have six healthy linebackers on the roster right now, and it's not necessarily going to be a linebacker-for-linebacker swap here. The team is relatively healthy at this point, and could be waiting to make a move until a need area arises. Let's say a player at another position suffers a three- to four-week injury. Well, Tinoisamoa's spot could then be used to add a body for some depth at that position.

The Bears cannot put Tionisamoa on injured reserve right now and not replace him with a corresponding move because of rules regarding the practice squad. A club cannot carry eight practice squad players (which the Bears have right now) and have less than a 53-man roster if one of the practice squad players is in his final year of eligibility. I don't know for certain, but quarterback Brett Basanez and/or offensive tackle James Marten could be in their final year of practice squad eligibility.

The Marvin Harrison-to-the-Bears mystery has been solved.

Weeks ago, a caller to WSCR 670-AM said the former Indianapolis Colts wide receiver was sighted in Lake Forest based on seeing an upscale SUV with Indiana vanity license plates. The plates not only have the Colts helmet, but also No. 88, the number Harrison wore for 13 seasons with the Colts.

It wasn't a hox. In the light rain at Halas Hall, I just spotted the exact same vehicle in front of the building.

Tommie Harris was decked out in sweatpants and a sweatshirt as practice was getting started this morning in the Walter Payton Center.

The veteran defensive tackle has missed the last two days of practice with his left knee flaring up. The Bears began the Friday session with special teams work, so it's still possible Harris does some work today if he changes into his gear, but he didn't have his helmet nearby. The media is only allowed to watch a brief stretching period in the beginning of practice.

Harris had taken off Wednesday practices earlier this season but missed on a Thursday yesterday for the first time. Harris underwent arthroscopic surgery on the left knee during the offseason and did very little work in training camp although the camp session began with coach Lovie Smith announcing Harris was 100 percent.

Tommie Harris was decked out in sweatpants and a sweatshirt as practice was getting started this morning in the Walter Payton Center.

The veteran defensive tackle has missed the last two days of practice with his left knee flaring up. The Bears began the Friday session with special teams work, so it's still possible Harris does some work today if he changes into his gear, but he didn't have his helmet nearby. The media is only allowed to watch a brief stretching period in the beginning of practice.

Harris had taken off Wednesday practices earlier this season but missed on a Thursday yesterday for the first time. Harris underwent arthroscopic surgery on the left knee during the offseason and did very little work in training camp although the camp session began with coach Lovie Smith announcing Harris was 100 percent.

The plan is for Gaines Adams to make his debut for the Bears on Sunday at Cincinnati, but exactly how that will be executed remains to be seen.

The first question is whose place on the 45-man gameday roster will he take? Adams was one of three linemen inactive last Sunday at Atlanta, joining tackle Matt Toeaina and rookie swing man Jarron Gilbert. it would seem unlikely the team will sit down any of the linemen who played vs. the Falcons--tackles Tommie Harris, Anthony Adams, Marcus Harrison and israel Idonije, and ends Alex Brown, Adewale Ogunleye and Mark Anderson. Of course, if Harris' left knee remains an issue--he's missed practice the last two days--it could be him.

Otherwise, it looks as if Lovie Smith might have to choose between some reserve defensive backs or wide receiver Devin Aromashodu, who was active against the Falcons for the first time. Based on the special teams use of the defensive backs--Josh Bullocks, Corey Graham, Craig Steltz--our guess would be Aromashodu. But it's just a guess.

What will the Bears have in store for Adams?

The tackle tandem that was supposed to be at the heart of the Bears' defense for years to come sat out practice on Thursday.

Tommie Harris missed his second straight day for the Bears with a left knee issue, and Tank Johnson sat out for the Bengals. Johnson had full participation on Wednesday. He is dealing with plantar fasciitis. Here is the official injury report:

Bears

DT Tommie Harris, left knee, DNP-DNP-
RB Adrian Peterson, right knee, DNP-DNP
S Josh Bullocks, ankle, LIM-LIM-
LB Hunter Hillenmeyer, ribs, LIM-FULL-
CB Corey Graham, ankle, LIM-LIM-
DL Israel Idonije, knee, LIM-FULL-
S Kevin Payne, toe, XXX-LIM-

Bengals

DT Domato Peko, knee, DNP-DNP-
S Roy Williams, forearm, DNP-DNP-
OT Andre Smith, foot, LIM-LIM-
TE Dan Coats, shoulder, FULL-FULL-
DT Tank Johnson, foot, FULL-DNP-
RB Brian Leonard, groin, FULL-FULL-
DE Frostee Rucker, ankle, FULL-FULL-
DT Pat Sims, biceps, FULL-FULL-
DL Jonathan Fanene, ill, XXX-DNP-

Jerry Angelo took the high road when it came to comments made by Warren Sapp about the Bears' general manager Wednesday morning on the Mully & Hanley Show on WSCR, 670-AM.

Sapp, who was drafted in the first round by the Buccaneers in 1995 when Angelo was the director of player personnel, said he wasn't a fan of him and asserted that Angelo didn't trade for quarterback Jay Cutler as much as the Denver Broncos gave him away. Sapp said Cutler will be the perfect quarterback for the Bears when the weather turns at Soldier Field this winter.

"I'm not an Angelo fan. He was in Tampa the whole time I was there,'' Sapp said. "Trust me we had discussions about different things, no, no thank you, you all can have him.

"Trust me, we were discussing players, this player, that player, because I was [there] in the beginning back in '95 when we were building the thing, you know before Mike Alstott, before [Warrick] Dunn, you know Karl "The Truth" [Williams], all the players we were picking up when [Tony] Dungy was there, and I was watching the evaluation. I had conversations so trust me, you all can have him.''

Sapp said Angelo was averse to making drastic moves and he "just [did] enough to not get noticed and not get fired.''

The Bears have won three division titles since Angelo arrived in 2001, although it's fair to debate the impact he had on the first one in '01. Since 2005, a year after Lovie Smith was hired as coach, the Bears are tied for the second-best record in the NFC at 43-26.

It was with a smile that Jay Cutler said congratulations to Eli Manning and Philip Rivers as they pulled down blockbuster contracts this summer, and the Bears quarterback was able to smile about his own deal on Wednesday.

Cutler signed a $30 million, two-year extension Tuesday night that gives him protection against the possibility of a lockout in 2011, something he said is on the minds of all players. The Bears, according to general manager Jerry Angelo, didn't plan on addressing a deal with Cutler during the season as he was signed through 2011 on his rookie contract when they traded for him with the Denver Broncos.

But agent Bus Cook approached the team and they quickly found some common ground that made sense for both parties.

"We felt given the uncertainty of the CBA, given the fact we had the cap room, this was a good time for us because what it does for us is it helps our planning going forward,'' Angelo said. "This will not impede us to not do anything we need to do in free agency moving forward. In fact, it's going to help us now because there's real clarity because Jay was always in the plans. It was just when we were going to do it and how much it was going to ... the cost. All that got resolved in a timely manner.

"We're very very happy with that. I know Jay is happy with that. He made it very clear he wanted to be a Bear. Money was never an issue when we made the trade with him."

Cutler had a $12 million roster bonus due in 2011, money that wasn't guaranteed. In the extension, he moved a lot of money forward in the deal--he'll pocket $16 million this season--and protected himself at a time when no one can predict the future between the owners and players.

"I think every player in the league is probably concerned with that because we don't know what is going to happen, is there going to be a lockout or what's going to happen?'' Cutler said. "You know, the (players association) is advising everyone to save money. So any money you can get before that point is going to be good for any player.''

Veteran linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa will miss the remainder of the season as he will undergo surgery on his right knee, possibly microfracture surgery.

Tinoisamoa was injured on Sunday night at Atlanta after missing three games following the tearing of the posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.

No big surprises on the Wednesday injury report. Here is a look:

Bears

DT Tommie Harris, left knee, DNP-
RB Adrian Peterson, right knee, DNP-
LB Pisa Tinoisamoa, right knee, DNP-
S Josh Bullocks, ankle, LIM-
LB Hunter Hillenmeyer, ribs, LIM-
CB Corey Graham, ankle, LIM-
DL Israel Idonije, knee, LIM-

Bengals

DT Domato Peko, knee, DNP-
S Roy Williams, forearm, DNP-
OT Andre Smith, foot, LIM-
TE Dan Coats, shoulder, FULL-
DT Tank Johnson, foot, FULL-
RB Brian Leonard, groin, FULL-
DE Frostee Rucker, ankle, FULL-
DT Pat Sims, biceps, FULL-

The Bears just hit the practice fields behind Halas Hall to begin their preparation for Sunday's game at Cincinnati.

Frank Omiyale is expected to remain the starter at left guard based on the information gathered in the locker room. There's been speculation that Josh Beekman, who started 16 games there last season, would replace Omiyale. But the Bears are showing that they believe in taking time to let a unit with three new starters gel. Orlando Pace is new at left tackle and former first-round draft pick Chris Williams is manning right tackle.

That didn't take long.

Ex-Bears tight end Michael Gaines, who was let go on Saturday to make room for defensive end Gaines Adams following the trade, has found new work. Gaines signed with the Cleveland Browns this morning.

Gaines takes the roster spot that was created when linebacker D'Qwell Jackson was moved to injured reserve.

Gaines can file for termination pay from the Bears in February. As a vested veteran who was on the roster for Week 1, his pay for the season is guaranteed. Gaines had a base salary of $650,000, and was paid for six weeks. That means the Bears could owe him $420,580 after the season if he files for the termination pay. Players can file for termination pay only once in their career. Because the Bears are on the hook for well more than half a season, it's expected Gaines will probably make that move.

Chad Ochocinco has been tweeting up a storm this week but he put the kidding aside Wednesday morning in an entertaining conference call with reporters. He's seen Charles Tillman do a pretty good job the last games on Atlanta's Roddy White and Detroit's Calvin Johnson.

The Bears were burned by Johnson in the first half of the Lions' game, and coach Lovie Smith made a halftime adjustment having Tillman shadow him on the field where he went. Johnson had three catches for 14 yards, and Tillman followed it up Sunday night in the Georgia Dome against White, who had four catches for 56 yards. White scored on a bubble screen that went 40 yards, and Tillman was wiped out by tight end Tony Gonzalez on the play.

"Beautiful. Beautiful,'' Ochocinco said when asked about Tillman. "I've been studying film on Peanut since training camp actually. I got some of the film that I could from when he played before and watched some of the things he does. He's really, really good, man. I know I've been playing around on Twitter and going back and forth with the nonsense--it's the way I play the game--but he looks really good and he's put up some shut-downs on some pretty good top receivers, so it's going to be a fun, interesting matchup come Sunday."

Ochocinco, who called out the secondary in a playful way on Twitter, said the Bears will be kissing the baby from the moment the whistle blows. He's got an end zone celebration planned for the game, too. When he was known as Chad Johnson, he scored two touchdowns vs. the Bears at Soldier Field in 2005, doing his take on Michael Flatley's Riverdance. That was at a time when Brian Urlacher was embroiled in a dispute with Tyna Robertson, the mother of his son. Robertson had falsely accused Flatley of rape, and he won a successful lawsuit against her. He said he's not going to repeat a dance he's already done.

"A very good friend of mine, Ronaldinho, I'm thinking about doing the Samba this week,'' Ochocinco said. "Courtesy of my friend Ronaldinho."

The Jay Cutler contract extension on Tuesday night sets the quarterback to be on board for the same length of time as general manager Jerry Angelo, who is also signed through 2013. The Bears took advantage of their surplus of salary cap this season--they had nearly $20 million available when the season began--and applied a chunk of the space to this season's cap.

Cutler gets some security with $20 million of the $30 million in new money guaranteed, and that was significant for him with the chance of a lockout in 2011 when he had a $12 million roster bonus due. If he plays like the Bears believe he is capable of--and they think the sky is the limit--they'll be back to the bargaining table before this deal is done. Cutler is now set to make roughly $50 million over the next five seasons and elite quarterbacks are already in the neighborhood of $15 million per year. But with two years after this one remaining on his rookie contract, Cutler didn't have a lot of leverage. Remember, his contract is one thing he never talked about in wanting out of Denver as a 25-year-old Pro Bowl performer.

So where does this leave the Bears? Well, they have a quarterback to build around longterm right now, and early results show things are working well with his young wide receivers Johnny Knox and Earl Bennett. Are there any players the Bears would seek an extension with now during the remainder of the season? It's possible, you can't rule anything out, but it looks unlikely at this point.

Let's review when contracts are up for the team:

2009: DE Mark Anderson, S Josh Bullocks, S Danieal Manning, LB Darrell McClover, DE Adewale Ogunleye, RB Adrian Peterson, LB Nick Roach, LB Tim Shaw, LB Pisa Tinoisamoa, DT Matt Toeaina, LB Jamar Williams

Comment: With the possibility of an uncapped year hanging over the game, the Bears will be able to control most of these players (if they want to) if there is not an extension of the CBA. The only players coming out of contract who are ensured of being unrestricted free agents are McClover, Ogunleye, Peterson and Tinoisamoa. Coach Lovie Smith has been excited about Manning, but we haven't seen a lot from him on defense so far. As often as the Bears have gone hot and then cold on him, it might make sense to take the chance at a one-year tender on him to wait and see some consistency. Of course, the revolving door at safety will not stop until the Bears get some players they can plug in and count on. Ogunleye is an interesting case. Angelo said the trade for Gaines Adams didn't have anything to do with Anderson or Ogunleye. It's a situation where Ogunleye, 32, will probably test the market. He's known to like Smith, he likes the team and he's a captain. The Bears would probably have an opportunity to match an offer if they wanted. The guess right now is they might. Roach will be a restricted free agent. Anderson could return on a one-year tender if he plays well, and he'd actually earn more than Adams in 2010 with a tender.

When the Bears entered the regular season with close to $20 million in available salary cap space, you knew a good chunk of it was earmarked for Jay Cutler.

The quarterback cashed in tonight as he received a two-year contract extension that is worth nearly $30 million with $20 million guaranteed. It gets Cutler under contract now through 2013, and allows the Bears to have him for five seasons without paying the kind of huge money that Eli Manning and Philip Rivers have pulled down recently. Of course, if Cutler wins and the Bears win, he'll probably be back to the bargaining table with them well before this deal expires.

Cutler was playing under the $47 million, six-year contract he received as a first-round draft pick with the Denver Broncos. He was signed for three seasons when the Bears traded for him in April, and it was understood at the time that a deal would be forthcoming for him. The Bears didn't trade first- and third-round picks and Kyle Orton to use him for three seasons.

The trade deadline passed this afternoon and, as expected, the Bears did not make another move after Friday's significant trade for defensive end Gaines Adams.

Looks like it has been quiet around the league as a whole.

The addition of a young pass rusher in Gaines Adams might not have made some of the veteran defensive ends very happy, but it cost one his job.

Ervin Baldwin, a seventh-round draft pick in 2008 from Michigan State, was released from the practice squad today, his agent reported.

Baldwin was signed to the 53-man roster last season when the Kansas City Chiefs tried to sign him off the Bears' practice squad, and he remained a project.

The Bears may discover later today the fate of Pisa Tinoisamoa, who re-injured his right knee in Sunday's loss at Atlanta.

Tinoisamoa left the field on a cart and admitted he wasn't in good shape after the game as he hobbled around the locker room. He underwent an MRI on Monday, and is believed to have a damaged meniscus.

Whether or not the veteran strong-side linebacker can return this season depends on the seriousness of the injury. If it's a minor tear, he could have surgery and be back up and running in a few weeks. He missed three games with a torn posterior cruciate ligament. If the injury is more serious, he could be looking at possible microfracture surgery, and that would unquestionably wipe out his season.

Lovie Smith isn't one to discuss personnel moves on Mondays, but you can say this about today's media session for the head coach--he didn't rule out a possible change on the offensive line before the Bears play at Cincinnati on Sunday.

All you need to know about the Bears' effort to run the ball Sunday night at Atlanta is that quarterback Jay Cutler was the game's leading rusher by virtue of a 30-yard dash he made in the fourth quarter. Running back Matt Forte was bottled up, held to a career-low 23 yards on 15 rushes. His long rush was five yards against a Falcons' defense that had consistently been run on in the first month of the season.

It's not like Smith has a range of options. Guard Josh Beekman started 16 games last season and was with the first team through the majority of training camp. He could return to left guard and replace Frank Omiyale. If the Bears wanted to try a new look at tackle, they could turn to Kevin Shaffer, and experienced starter before with Cleveland and Atlanta. If a move is coming, it would most likely involve Beekman only, but Smith spoke mostly in general terms.

"We're 3-2 so the offensive line has done some good things,'' he said. "They've contributed to all of that. Coming off of a loss we're not real pleased with anything we did last night, starting with me. I'm not pleased with a lot of things I did last night. We'll go from there. But our offensive line has done some good things.''

Smith was then asked if he could forecast any changes coming on the line and gave his standard reply for such inquiries--they look at every possible scenario after every single game.

"But I don't foresee any major changes on the offensive line,'' he said.

ATLANTA--How much you want to bet Jay Cutler is willing to wait a long while before his next road Sunday night game?

That's six interceptions for the quarterback on Sunday nighters away from Soldier Field, and the Bears have three more prime time games coming up--Nov. 12 at San Francisco, Nov. 22 vs. Philadelphia and Dec. 28 vs. Minnesota.

But blaming another inconsistent effort on the kickoff time and the venue is ignoring some of the issues the Bears can or should do something about. Atlanta is a solid football team, one that plays well in the Georgia Dome, but this wasn't the class of the NFC the Bears just ran into in their 21-14 loss. The Falcons entered ranked 23rd vs. the run and they stopped the Bears cold. They didn't generate much of a pass rush without blitzing all out, and the Bears didn't hit them with the dagger. Atlanta's secondary has issues and Cutler threw for 300 yards in exposing some of them, but it was the giveaways he had that cost the Bears 10 points--three in the way of a Robbie Gould field goal, and seven in the touchdown the Falcons turned the second pick into in the second quarter.

So, I'll roll through some rapid reaction to this game before packing my bags here:

1. Third-and-one. Offensive coordinator Ron Turner had to be feeling pretty good about things. The Bears entered the game a miserable 2-for-5 on third-and-one conversions through their first four games. It was something they struggled with last season, and the addition of Cutler with a run/pass element was supposed to make things better. The offense encountered two third-and-ones in the first quarter and picked them both up with Cutler throwing to Greg Olsen for a five-yard gain, and then sneaking for two yards. They came out in the third quarter and Cutler picked up another with a sneak and then Matt Forte found a hole by left guard Frank Omiyale for a five-yard game to quickly make the offense 4-for-4 on third-and-one.

Once the Bears got to the goalline, that was a different story. Forte's dive on second-and-goal from the one wasn't close to the end zone and linebacker Curtis Lofton knocked the ball out. Somehow, Forte recovered the ball. Turner went to him with a run left on the very next play, also from the one, and he was stripped by defensive tackle Jonathan Babineuax. It's the hard yard to pick up and when the Bears have had success, they've gone play fake. It's what Cutler tried on first-and-goal from the one and the Falcons had everything covered up. They haven't been able to impose their will on a defense, and Forte's upright running style makes it difficult for him to get that tough yard at times. Fumbling isn't an issue with him. He did it only once last season. But the combination of the line and Forte's lack of explosion has got the run game bottled up right now. It's a combination of both. It should be noted when facing fourth-and-one at the Falcons' five their in the waning seconds, they were going to run another sneak to Cutler before left tackle Orlando Pace lunged forward in a run-blocking effort for a false start. There's no success with the Power-O like they used to have. Turner is going to have to adapt, and do so quickly.

2. While we're mentioning Cutler, those interceptions were game killers for them here. In a lot of ways this was Green Bay all over again. Babineuax was bearing down on him when he tried to hit Devin Hester on a crossing route on the first pick. Never should have thrown the third-down pass. If he tosses it away, Gould drills a 30-yard field goal. It was a momentum killer at the end of a 13-play drive that was taking the antsy crowd slowly out of the game. The second pick was bad any way you slice it. Olsen was covered pretty well and the ball was badly overthrown. Another pick he should have never attempted.

3. The defense accomplished the No. 1 task of stopping running back Michael Turner. He had only 30 yards rushing on 13 carries (2.3 per attempt), and when you look at the numbers it's not like Matt Ryan picked them apart--19-for-33 for 185 yards. But Ryan made the big plays when he needed them, like the 16-yard completion to tight end Tony Gonzalez on third-and-six from the Bears' 37 in the fourth quarter. That set up the go-ahead score.

ATLANTA--Time will tell, but it could prove to be one of the most productive scouting trips of general manager Jerry Angelo's career.

He was headed to Tampa last week to scout the South Florida-Cincinnati game, and after some initial discussions with Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik, who was groomed for a time under Angelo, they agreed to meet face-to-face. That is how the trade on Friday for defensive end Gaines Adams got done with the Bears shipping out their second-round draft pick in 2010 for the No. 4 pick in the 2007 draft.

Angelo understands that Adams, who will not be active for tonight's game against the Falcons, is being labeled a bust in Tampa. They said the same thing about Cedric Benson, who he drafted fourth overall in 2005.

"I have seen situations like that,'' he said. "You get a few position coaches and a scheme change, the fourth pick in the draft, big fish bowl not living up to expectations. Hey, I have been part of it. We've seen it. We feel very strongly about our scheme, we feel very strongly about our coaches, we feel very strongly about the way we evaluate players. We did all of our due diligence and we felt like we're going to make this happen. There are risks to a draft pick, there is risk to this. I'm just hoping he is coming in here wanting to be a great player. If he is, I feel like we have all the tools to facilitate him coming to fruition.''

Angelo understands it probably didn't make the guys already in the Bears defensive line room happy. Adams will join a rotation that right now is Alex Brown-Adewale Ogunleye-Mark Anderson. It's not that he's unhappy with any of those players, and, yes, Ogunleye and Anderson could both return next season.

"I'm sure I didn't make any friends over this with the defensive line,'' Angelo said. "But I like them all. I just feel like you can't have enough of them. Unlike the offensive line, you play a lot of defensive linemen. We have a rotation. It's a pretty good rotation. He is hopefully another player that is going to add to the mix. It starts with the front, you know that, both on the offensive and defensive lines. I just felt like the value of what he does was too great not to take advantage of this opportunity.

"I'm not anticipating us doing anything with anybody other than what they are already doing. We just got another guy to be in the mix. It's a second-round draft pick. Does he have to be special? He doesn't have to be special. He has to be a good rank-and-file player we can win with. His position, and I can't minimize this, has tremendous value in our scheme. That had a lot of weight in our decision. These guys aren't easy to find and when you get an opportunity to potentially get one, you act on it."

The trade for defensive end Gaines Adams on Friday turned into a loss for tight end Michael Gaines today.

The veteran tight end is the player the Bears released in order to create a roster spot for their new pass rusher. It's not a shocking move, although the Bears could have also picked from some rookies who do not figure to see action this season. Gaines was one of the final players to make the 53-man roster as a fourth tight end. He didn't have a role on special teams like Kellen Davis, the third tight end, and opportunities for him to play as an H-back type didn't really materialize. Gaines, who was signed on May 12 was inactive for two games and appeared as a sub only in the Seattle game.

This leaves the Bears with three tight ends, which is what most teams typically carry. Gaines' base salary was $650,000, so the remaining amount on it will cover about half of what Adams is earning this season, the pro-rated amount of $900,000. Gaines received a $250,000 signing bonus and a $100,000 roster bonus. His base salary was $650,000 and as a vested veteran he is eligible to put in for termination pay and receive the entire amount, which would be 11 remaining weeks of pay.

Spoke to a league source Friday night who has had a close watch on the career of Gaines Adams.

Here is what he had to say about the defensive end the Bears acquired for their 2010 second-round draft pick:

"He hasn't really developed yet and he's not a great player. For the fourth pick in the draft, yeah, he's a bust. But I think a change of scenery will help him. He's a guy who needs someone to motivate him. He needs to develop his body. He looks like a basketball player. But he looks good coming off the ball sometimes. He can be better. He shows flashes. You can see the talent there. It will be interesting to see what he does.''

Here are Adams' career numbers:

2009 5 games 5 starts 10 tackles 8 solos 1 sack 2 passes defended

2008 16 games 16 starts 38 tackles 27 solos 6.5 sacks 6 passes defended 2 INT 1 TD

2007 16 games 8 starts 38 tackles 28 solos 6 sacks 2 passes defended 2 forced fumbles

Gaines Adams will arrive from Tampa this morning to take his physical, and then it could be back on a plane for him to head to Atlanta with the Bears. The team is scheduled to leave Halas Hall before 2 p.m. The team will have to make a roster move before then in order to clear a spot for Adams on the 53-man roster. I speculated here about some players who could potentially be released to make room for Adams.

His comments about the trade, his new team, working with Rod Marinelli and more are in the main story here.

Now, let's take a spin around the Internet and see what they are saying about the second big trade in two weeks in the NFL. Cleveland dealing wide receiver Braylon Edwards to the New York Jets got things started last week.

Kevin Seifert at ESPN.com writes about the transformation of general manager Jerry Angelo, who barring a trade will go without first- and second-round picks for the second straight draft. Angelo traded out of the second round this past April. It used to be Angelo's draft picks were next to untouchable.

Pat Yasinskas, also at ESPN.com, reports that Stylez G. White is likely to take over for Adams in the starting lineup for the Buccaneers. if that name doesn't sound familiar, it should. He was with the Bears in training camp in 2005. That is when he was the pass rusher known as Greg White.

Stephen Holder of the St. Petersburg Times reports that first-year Bucs general manager Mark Dominik said Thursday, "When we're not getting consistent play out of an area, we've been making changes. And that could continue." Talk about foreshadowing. The trade gives Tampa four picks in the first three rounds of he 2010 draft.

Now that the dust has settled, sort of, on the Gaines Adams trade, let's examine the roster move the Bears will have to make Saturday to add him to the 53-man roster.

Adams will come aboard after he passes his physical Saturday morning after arriving from Tampa. The Bears will have to release a player to make room, and with no significant injuries it is unlikely anyone will be placed on injured reserve. The club has not announced its intentions.

You don't have to look too far to find some candidates. We'll list some possibilities with a reason why they could be cut, and a reason for them to stick around. This list is in alphabetical order, not the order in which I see it playing out. Go ahead and make your own choice known.

Josh Bullocks. Why: The Bears have an excess with five safeties on the roster. Why not: Bullocks is starting to figure into the special teams mix, especially this week with running back Adrian Peterson out with a knee injury.

Michael Gaines. Why: The fourth tight end was a luxury to make the 53-man roster and he's barely been used. Why not: The broken rib suffered by Desmond Clark is a clear sign of how tough it is to keep players healthy at this position.

Juaquin Iglesias. Why: The third-round pick has yet to be active this season and did not perform well in training camp and preseason. Why not: He's a third-round pick and Jerry Angelo is unlikely to give up on a third rounder when he just traded a second-round pick.

Lance Louis. Why: He's a project who was one of the final players to make the roster and could probably be waived and re-signed to the practice squad. The misdemeanor assault charge against him in San Diego doesn't help. Why not: Louis is a young lineman who was used at guard and tackle in preseason, and the Bears need to develop youth on the line.

Darrell McClover. Why: The Bears are starting to get healthy at linebacker and he plays a role on special teams only. He was added just three weeks ago and would seem to be expendable as a seventh linebacker. Why not: The Bears added him because they needed a boost on special teams. Adams might add to the defense, but he's not going to help special teams.

D.J. Moore. Why: Moore has yet to be active and if the rookie fourth-round pick cannot carve out a role for himself on special teams, he's not going to contribute this season. Generously listed at 5-9, he's not big enough to be an every-down cornerback any way. Why not: Like Iglesias, Angelo doesn't want to get rid of a draft pick when he just traded one away to weaken his 2010 draft. Moore sticks because he's a developmental project.

Matt Toeaina. Why: Adding Adams gives the Bears 10 defensive linemen and Toeaina is the least used of the bunch. Why not: Tackles are impossible to find this time of year and just like you can't have too many pass rushers, you can't have too many tackles. He's needed for depth.

gaines-adams.jpg

Gaines Adams had no idea that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were considering trading him when he received the call tonight that he was headed to the Bears.

"First of all, I want to thank the Buccaneers for giving me the opportunity, and for picking me in the draft,'' Adams told the Sun-Times. "This is the nature of the beast, though, and this is a new start for me. I wish them the best of luck and I am just glad to be a Bear.''

The fourth overall pick in the 2007 draft, Adams had 12 1/2 sacks for the Buccaneers in his first two seasons playing in the Tampa Two, the same defensive scheme he will find here. Adams is flying to Chicago Saturday in time to make the trip with the team to Atlanta Saturday night. He is eligible to play Sunday, and the Bears will have to cut a player Saturday to make room for Adams.

Adams had a 45-yard interception return for a touchdown vs. the Bears at Soldier Field last season, but five of his career sacks have come vs. the Falcons, so the Bears might just consider plugging him in on the fly like the Oakland Raiders did with Richard Seymour after they acquired him at the start of the season. The jump in the standings--the Bucs are 0-5 and the Bears are 3-1--was refreshing.

"Obviously, with the team I was with, the record shows and obviously stepping into a new team, I'm going to a good position with the Bears,'' Adams said. "I am going to try to make the best of it.

"I'm just trying to get up there first and just trying to get their playbook and get all of the little things taken care of and hopefully go out and play Sunday."

First-year Bucs coach Raheem Morris had been critical of Adams back in training camp and then at the start of the season. He had one sack in Tampa's loss at Washington, and he's been playing both right and left ends.

The Bears didn't trade for Terrell Owens, but they did make a trade tonight for a young pass rusher that will be given to defensive line coach Rod Marinelli to develop.

General manager Jerry Angelo traded his second-round draft pick in 2010 for Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Gaines Adams, who had fallen out of favor with first-year coach Raheem Morris.

Adams, a first-round draft pick in 2007, had 12 1/2 sacks through his first two seasons. He was drafted by the Bucs to play in the Tampa Two scheme, and now the Bears have some youth moving forward at the position with Adewale Ogunleye and Mark Anderson coming out of contract after this season. The Bears are looking at Adams to help now though.

Defensive lineman Israel Idonije had full participation in practice today, which increases the chance he will play Sunday at Atlanta. Here is the injury report:

Bears

Doubtful

LB Hunter Hillenmeyer, ribs, DNP-DNP-DNP
RB Adrian Peterson, knee, DNP-DNP-DNP

Questionable

DT Anthony Adams, toe, DNP-LIM-LIM
DT Israel Idonije, knee, DNP-LIM-FULL
LB Pisa Tinoisamoa, knee, FULL-FULL-FULL

Probable

DT Tommie Harris, knee, LIM-LIM-FULL

Falcons

Out

S Antoine Harris, knee, DNP-DNP

Questionable

FB Ovie Mughelli, calf, DNP-DNP
CB Brian Williams, eye, XX-XX-DNP

Probable

K Jason Elam, left hamstring, FULL-FULL-FULL
WR Marty Booker, abdomen, XX-XX-FULL

Defensive lineman Israel Idonije practiced again Friday in the Walter Payton Center and said he plans to play Sunday night at Atlanta, which will be 14 days after arthroscopic knee surgery.

A determination on Idonije's availability has not been made yet, though, and he is expected to be a game-time decision for the Bears. He just returned to practice on Thursday on a limited basis.

"I don't know why everyone is saying it is a big deal, two weeks, that was the plan all along for me,'' Idonije said. "I knew in two weeks I would be ready to go.

"I plan on playing. I'll be all right. It felt all right at practice. It feels good. There's no issues."

It is yet to be known what, if anything, Hunter Hillenmeyer will do in practice this morning, but when the Bears were stretching in preparation for the short workout in the Walter Payton Center, the linebacker was in his gear and ready to go.

That doesn't mean he'll necessarily be on the field and participate in drills, but he could and we'll find out soon enough what the case is.

Defensive lineman Israel Idonije returned to the practice field this afternoon for the first time since undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery on Oct. 5. He was limited in the practice held inside the Walter Payton Center, and this doesn't mean he will be ready to go on Sunday night at Atlanta, but it's a good sign.

Here is the injury report for today. DNP is Did Not Participate. The chart goes from Wednesday to Thursday and then tomorrow to Friday.

Bears

DT Anthony Adams, toe, DNP-LIM
LB Hunter Hillenmeyer, ribs, DNP-DNP
DT Israel Idonije, knee, DNP-LIM
RB Adrian Peterson, knee, DNP-DNP
DT Tommie Harris, knee, LIM-LIM
LB Pisa Tinoisamoa, knee, FULL-FULL-

Falcons

S Antoine Harris, knee, DNP-DNP
FB Ovie Mughelli, calf, DNP-DNP
K Jason Elam, left hamstring, FULL-FULL

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford reportedly missed practice this morning with his injured right knee, and it looks more like he will miss his second game since being sacked by Bears defensive end Adewale Ogunleye during the fourth quarter Oct. 4 at Soldier Field.

Ogunleye was fined $7,500 by the NFL for violating the league's horse collar policy, and he said he is appealing the fine. He feels bad for Stafford, who reportedly suffered a dislocated right knee cap, but wouldn't do anything differently on the play if he had it to do over again. Ogunleye spun Stafford to the ground, and replays clearly showed he was grasping the back of the jersey near or at the collar.

"I had him by the front of his jersey and it slipped to the back as he was trying to get away,'' Ogunleye said. "I was very surprised I was fined.


Here is the injury report for today:

Bears

DT Anthony Adams, toe, DNP-
LB Hunter Hillenmeyer, ribs, DNP-
DT Israel Idonije, knee, DNP-
RB Adrian Peterson, knee, DNP-
DT Tommie Harris, knee, LIM-
LB Pisa Tinoisamoa, knee, FULL-

Falcons

S Antoine Harris, knee, DNP-
FB Ovie Mughelli, calf, DNP-
K Jason Elam, left hamstring, FULL-

Bears rookie offensive lineman Lance Louis, who declined to say anything about the misdemeanor assault charge he received in San Diego on Tuesday, could face potential discipline from the NFL even though the incident occurred last fall when he was playing for San Diego State University.

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk first reported the news, and NFL senior vice president for public relations Greg Aiello confirmed it via e-mail. Louis' alleged attack of former Aztecs teammate Nick Sandford falls under the league's personal conduct policy because the charge was filed against him after he entered into the NFL. Players can be suspended or fined for violations of the personal conduct policy.

Pretty much anything Bears related on the Internet in the last 24 hours surrounded the possibility (or never in a blue moon) possibility that wide receiver Terrell Owens could be traded to the Bears.

So I asked Jay Cutler during his press conference what he would say if the team asked him about Owens.

"I don't think they're going to,'' Cutler responded. "I think they'll keep that upstairs."

In an effort to get a little more out of Cutler, I followed up by asking if that is because the club is happy with the performance of the wide receivers or he's happy or both. That's when Cutler shot the `I can't give you anything to work with on this one' look and said, "Mmmm hmmm,' as it was roughly translated.

He was then asked if he knows the sometimes controversial Buffalo wide receiver, who the Bills have said nothing about trading.

"I don't know T.O.,'' he said.

Bears rookie offensive lineman Lance Louis offered no reaction to the criminal charges that have been filed against him in San Diego for an assault on a former teammate at San Diego State University.

Louis was charged Tuesday with misdemeanor assault for allegedly attacking Nick Sandford from behind in a team meeting room last season. Sandford suffered a fractured cheekbone, concussion and broke eardrum. Louis faces up to one year in jail and a $10,000 fine if convicted. He will be arraigned Oct. 23.

"I'm not talking about it,'' said the seventh-round draft pick this afternoon in the Bears' locker room prior to practice.

Next, he was asked if he is innocent of the charge.

"I ain't got nothing to say on it,'' Louis said. "I can't talk about it right now. It's a legal matter. It's being handled. That's about it."


TO.jpg

The cyber mailbag has been getting stuffed in e-mail and on my Twitter account.

Are the Bears in play for Terrell Owens?

My initial take on T.O. to the Bears is NO, but keep in mind that the N in NFL stands for never rule anything out.

Before we go any further, let's get to the genesis of these e-mails and the rampant speculation that is all over the Internet. ESPN's Adam Schefter speculated that the Buffalo Bills could look to trade Owens before the NFL's trading deadline, which is next Tuesday. Schefter's short item starts out: "About a week before the Oct. 20 NFL trade deadline, the Buffalo Bills are not shopping wide receiver Terrell Owens." Then, he goes on to explain why it would be a good idea for the Bills, who could lay off roughly $4 million of the $6.5 million contract Owens signed with Buffalo this season.

The Bills are going nowhere in 2009, only to an offseason rebuilding with a coach not named Dick Jauron, but they built energy in their club and fan base by surprisingly signing Owens after he was cast off in Dallas. Do they want to admit failure and deal away the one player who spurred ticket sales? You've got to keep in mind the issues Owens caused in Dallas and before that in Philadelphia when you consider the idea of adding him to a locker room that Lovie Smith likes right now, one that is calm, veteran and clear of pretty much anything in the way of controversy. A ripple in the Bears locker room occurs when tight end Desmond Clark announces on his Internet radio show that he has a fractured rib. That's controversy for the Bears.

Owens has 12 catches for 202 yards and one touchdown for a miserable Bills' offense. He turns 36 in December, and he simply doesn't get off press coverage at the line of scrimmage like he did before. Scouts will tell you he doesn't have to be defended the way he did three or four years ago. If the production of the Bears' wide receivers has not been a surprise to the team, then it has been a surprise to everyone not residing at Halas Hall. Devin Hester, Johnny Knox and Earl Bennett are all on pace to have more than 750 yards receiving, something no trio in franchise history has accomplished. Is any receiver going to the Pro Bowl? Probably not. But the Bears are far ahead of where many upset they didn't swing a trade for Anquan Boldin figured they would be.



Owens is a big target at 6-3, 224 pounds, and he could probably excel with Jay Cutler throwing him the ball. Cutler likes big targets, and he's not the least bit surprised that Kyle Orton has found success with Brandon Marshall in Denver. Throw it up for a big receiver and watch him go get it. Cutler likes big receivers and it's one reason he took to Devin Aromashodu in training camp and preseason. Owens would offer that dimension to the offense, one it really has not been getting from tight end Greg Olsen, who was supposed to have a breakout season.

An incident that the San Diego State University football team thought might go away didn't, and it's caught up to Bears rookie offensive lineman Lance Louis.

He has been charged with misdemeanor assault stemming from a fight with a college teammate last season, one that ex-Aztecs football coach Chuck Long did not report to authorities for more than two weeks. Louis was accused of assaulting safety Nick Sandford in a meeting room while Sandford was watching film.

According to Paul Sandford, the player's father, Louis approached from behind and attacked Nick Sandford. He reportedly suffered a fractured cheekbone, concussion and broken eardrum. Sandford had poked Louis with a stick earlier in the day in the locker room. Louis played the remainder of the season without any known punishment from Long. Sandford is a senior starter for the Aztecs this season.

Louis will be arraigned on Oct. 23 but is not required to attend. The charge is punishable by up to a year in jail and a $10,000 fine.

The Bears performed their weekly practice squad shuffle this afternoon as the team re-signed cornerback Woodny Turenne to the eight-man developmental squad, a league source said.

This is the third tour of duty for Turenne on the practice squad, and he has now been involved in six transactions entering Week 6 of the season. A recap:

Waived from roster Sept. 5
Signed to practice squad Sept. 6
Terminated from practice squad Sept. 23
Signed to practice squad Sept. 30
Terminated from practice squad Oct. 7
Signed to practice squad Oct. 13.


The Bears have said they are hopeful linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer will return from a rib injury suffered on Sept. 27 when they play Sunday at Atlanta, but he is not practicing this morning.

The team just started what will be about a 90-minute practice and Hillenmeyer, defensive lineman Israel Idonije and running back Adrian Peterson were the only players noticeably missing from action when media was permitted to view. Idonije had knee surgery last Monday, and Peterson has a sprained knee.

Got a good question in the mailbag last week and I thought it would make a good post on its own.

Q: Could you please explain what a No. 1 receiver is. Is he the one that catches most of the passes? Can he be a No. 1 if he doesn't catch 100 in a season? Is he the one that leads the team in receiving yards? Perhaps he's the "go to guy?" The most reliable? Best hands? Is he the fastest receiver on the team? Is it similar to having a No. 1 defensive end, or maybe an offensive tackle or guard. Is there such a thing?

Is it better than having two or three equally talented and dependable receivers? Wouldn't it be better to keep a secondary guessing who's gonna get the ball? Could a tight end be a No. 1 receiver? If not, why? Basic terminology says there is a tight end and a split end. I understand how it has changed to wide out, and could the slot receiver (the back in a pro set formation?) be a number 1? How many NFL teams actually have a number 1 receiver?

In all seriousness, I don't understand and wish someone would explain it. Although I've always heard the term and thought I understood, I really don't. I'm sure I'm not the only one out here. I think there are an awful lot of people that only pretend to understand because it's cool to throw around cool terms in a conversation and are ashamed to admit that they don't.

Please help,
Pete J., Mt. Prospect

A: Well, Pete, I'm not going to claim to be the No. 1 authority on this subject, and I think it's fair to say a No. 1 wide receiver is many things to many different people. Let me just say that the definition of No. 1 wide receiver, in my book, is an elite wideout who could start for any team in the league. I like to think of a No. 1 wideout being a "blue" in scouting terms, and a blue is an elite level player who could start for all 32 teams. By that definition, of course, it's fair to say the Bears do not have a No. 1 wide receiver. A blue receiver is going to be someone who can stretch the field vertically and has all of those traits you rattled off. A No. 1 wide receiver is one who had a chance to impact the game on every down. He can't be a guy who just catches a lot of balls, or gets a lot of catches in the red zone. He needs to be a player that on a weekly basis the opposing defense is very concerned about. Right now, the Bears don't have one. They're hoping they can forge that player between Devin Hester and Johnny Knox.



Would it be better to have a No. 1 or three equally talented and dependable receivers? To each his own, but you can sign me up for the elite talent every day of the week and twice on Sundays. Blues are the players that make the biggest difference on Sundays. Remember when the Carolina Panthers came in to play the Bears in the 2005 playoffs? Can you name the wide receiver who started opposite Steve Smith? Keary Colbert. The Bears knew who was getting the ball and they couldn't stop him. Smith has been an elite talent for a long time. If you're referring to the Bears, I'd be careful saying they have three equally talented and dependable receivers at this point. Devin Hester has been good. Earl Bennett and Knox basically have four games of experience each. They've been productive thus far and all three are on pace for a little more than 750 yards receiving.

The Detroit Lions are virtually ensured of being without rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford for Sunday's game with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Bears defensive end Adewale Ogunleye will pay for that absence. The NFL has fined Ogunleye $7,500 for unnecessary roughness, ruling that when he spun Stafford to the ground for a sack midway through the fourth quarter he made a horse collar tackle. Ogunleye had the back of Stafford's jersey with his right hand. There was not a penalty called on the play.

Stafford reportedly suffered a dislocated right knee cap, although the injury is not believed to be serious. After missing two days of practice, he reportedly took part in some individual drills today. Still, veteran Daunte Culpepper is expected to start.

The Bears' first encounter with running back Cedric Benson is drawing more attention from the network.

The NFL mas moved back the kickoff time of the Bears' game at Cincinnati on Oct. 25 from noon until 3:15 p.m., and that will most likely allow the game to be shown to a wider audience. Currently, Fox has two other games in that time slot--Atlanta at Dallas and New Orleans at Miami.

Mike Martz is sorry for making a fuss about Jay Cutler for his friend Lovie Smith, but he meant what he said when he tore into the quarterback after the Bears' season-opening loss at Lambeau Field for his demeanor in a postgame press conference. On the field, he considers Cutler one of the rare talents in the league who is just beginning to put it together at 26.

"He is just scratching the surface,'' Martz said today when he visited with Marc Silverman and Tom Waddle on ESPN-1000. "He's a remarkable talent, he's one of the elite talents that I've ever seen. I just think he's just getting going with what they do with Ron Turner and the discipline and add more receivers over the years, over the next 10 years or so, Chicago has got to be excited about the future of that position. He's gonna ice that thing down for a long time to come.''

The former St. Louis Rams head coach was, in a way, trying to defend Smith when he spoke about Cutler on the debut episode of "The Coaches Show'' on NFL Network after Cutler's poor debut.

"He just doesn't get it," Martz said at the time. "He doesn't understand that he represents a great head coach and the rest of those players on that team ... somebody needs to talk to him."

Martz was more diplomatic in his radio appearance.


A case can be made that Michael Crabtree made $2 million for each of the first four games of the season he missed for the San Francisco 49ers.

The package the wide receiver received Wednesday when he finally ended an exhausting contract impasse with the organization was for $8 million more than the club had on the table. Now, Crabtree has to go about his business on the field and that's the big question, what can he accomplish as a rookie? The 49ers received a roster exemption from the NFL for this week, and he'll be able to make his debut Oct. 25 at Houston. The Bears travel to San Francisco shortly after that for a Nov. 12 game, which could be Crabtree's fourth game in uniform.

Can he be productive by then in offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye's conservative attack? Will the 10th pick in the draft be a difference maker.

Bears general manager Jerry Angelo had some strong feelings on the issue--rookie holdouts--in general. Of course, he went through one four seasons ago when running back Cedric Benson showed up 36 days late after a holdout that involved Eugene Parker, the same man who represents Crabtree.


Guard Johan Asiata has been signed to the practice squad for the third time as the Bears re-shuffled the practice squad today.

Asiata returns and cornerback Woodny Turenne departs, not a surprise consider the Bears signed cornerback DeAngelo Smith to the practice squad on Tuesday.


Linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa returned to practice today at Halas Hall for the first since since suffering a sprained right knee in the season opener at Green Bay. He is expected to return to action when the team plays again Oct. 18 at Atlanta and likely return to his spot as the starter on the strong side. Wide receiver Johnny Knox was also back on the field three days after a shin injury knocked him out of the victory over Detroit.

A handful of players were given the day off, though, in the first of two practices during the bye week. Pretty much anyone that has had a minor ailment of late was rested, including defensive end Alex Brown, linebacker Lance Briggs, wide receiver Devin Hester, left guard Frank Omiyale and defensive tackle Tommie Harris.

"We need to heal up a little bit bumps and bruises and those type things,'' coach Lovie Smith said. "Also good to get some work in offense vs. defense, getting back to some of the training camp-type practices. Injury-list wise, no need in going on any of that, they guys are all getting better, we're optimistic we'll have most of the group ready to go Monday when we come back and start our preparation for Atlanta.''

It's been a week, and I was delayed tonight by a nice piece on a wide receiver fighting to get back in the league--David Terrell--that will run over at the National Football Post in the morning. Without any more delay, let's jump right into the action.

Q: I'm a longtime Bears fan, now transplanted in Los Angeles. I can tell you that Kahlil Bell really showed something when he played for UCLA. I feel like Lovie should give him a shot. Can you tell me that Kahlil's injury status is, is he game ready, and what the coaches think of him?

Robert S., Los Angeles

A: Bell is healthy after injuring his ankle during the summer with the Minnesota Vikings. He has been running with the scout team in practice. As far as being game ready, I couldn't tell you where he is at right now with the Bears' offense. Could he take a handoff and hit the right hole? Sure. Does he understand the blitz responsibilities for the position? That takes time. The Bears will have to make a decision on whether or not to sign a running back to the 53-man roster with Adrian Peterson expected to miss a least the Atlanta game on Oct. 18 with a sprained knee. They have only Matt Forte and Garrett Wolfe right now, although fullback Jason McKie could handle duties in a real pinch. My guess--and this is just a guess--is that if Peterson will miss only one or two games tops the Bears will role the dice with what they have. Why add someone like Bell or an outsider who doesn't know the playbook for one game when Forte rarely comes off the field? That doesn't seem like that big of a gamble to me. Bell would also have to prove to have real value on special teams to get a shot. We'll see what happens moving forward with A.P. This is a story to keep an eye on, no question.


Q: After a weekend of two NFC North matchups, I am curious how things will unfold down the stretch for the Bears. From what we've seen by now can you lay out some pros and cons for the Bears going forward in the division in terms of strength of schedule, facing Green Bay a second time, and facing Favre and the Vikings two times yet not until week 12 and 16? I am hoping Favre will be feeling the pain a bit more by then as he looked scary-good last night.

Geoff, Maui, Hawaii

A: The schedules are pretty much identical. The Vikings draw Carolina and the New York Giants. The Bears get Atlanta and Philadelphia. The Bears should have beat Green Bay in the first meeting because they got a top defensive effort. Jay Cutler was a disaster and you had what you had there. The Vikings looked pretty good on Monday night, no question, but that's a different game if the Packers' offensive line was even 50 percent better than it was. As dominant as the Vikings looked at times, they still won by only seven points. How Favre's arm holds up over the course of the season will be a key. Plus, it looks like there are starting to be some cracks in the Williams Wall. Teams are running the ball with a little bit of success on Minnesota. They're still impressive and they have the best player in the division in Adrian Peterson.


Q: Do you think we will sign a RB? Who? Will Jarron Gilbert ever get any playing time?

IMHOtep, Parts Unknown

A: See above on the running back question. Gilbert suited up for his second game on Sunday against Detroit, and he saw limited action at left end. It might have been just one snap, in fact, but he was on the field. Lovie Smith remains high on him and told me a little more than a week ago that he anticipates the rookie third-round pick contributing this season.


The Bears made it official today by signing cornerback DeAngelo Smith to the practice squad a week after he was released.

They cut defensive end Joe Clermond to make room for him. The Bears are now carrying two cornerbacks on the practice squad in Smith and Woodny Turenne.


Send in your questions now. I will get to as many as I can on Tuesday.

Nearly two weeks until the Bears have to suit up again in Atlanta, Lovie Smith said he is counting on all of his players to be available to face the Falcons?

Realistic? Maybe not. Possible? Sure. Smith confirmed the Sun-Times report that defensive lineman Israel Idonije had arthroscopic knee surgery today. He sounded more confident that wide receivers Devin Hester and Johnny Knox and linebackers Pisa Tinoisamoa and Hunter Hillenmeyer will be back.

"Clean up, you know, a little bit in one of his knees,'' Smith said about Idonije. "Should be ready to go. Nothing major. Minor procedure that we had scheduled, so he should be all right."


We knew the Bears were going to use the bye week to try and heal up at wide receiver and linebacker, and now this: defensive lineman Israel Idonije is expected to undergo arthroscopic knee surgery today, a source close to the player said. Idonije has canceled a personal appearance.

Idonije has been on the injury report since the beginning of the season with a knee listed as his ailment, and he was questionable for Sunday's game against Detroit. He played and was credited with a forced fumble and a sack. Idonije was also involved on special teams, but didn't look as quick as usual. By doing the procedure today, there is a chance Idonije will return quickly. While it's unknown the exact reason they are working on his knee, it's not out of the question that he could be back on the field when the Bears play at Atlanta Oct. 18. The bye will certainly help.

Rookie defensive lineman Jarron Gilbert played for the first time against the Lions, and the Bears have added depth with tackle Matt Toeaina, who was inactive. So if Idonije is forced to miss a game or two, there will not be a scramble for bodies. Mark Anderson has been used inside in pass-rushing situations, and there are more than enough bodies to go around.

The Bears will re-sign defensive back DeAngelo Smith to their practice squad today, a league source said.

Smith was released from the 53-man roster last week to make room for linebacker Darrell McClover, who was signed to help on special teams.

Smith was a fifth-round draft pick of the Dallas Cowboys, and was claimed off waivers by the Cleveland Browns. The Bears claimed him off waivers when they waived/injured cornerback Trumaine McBride following the season opener at Green Bay.

No question has been asked more since the Bears' 48-24 victory over Detroit this afternoon than whether or not Johnny Knox crossed the goalline on his 102-yard kickoff return before flipping the ball to the ground.

I wondered the same thing aloud to Bob LeGere of the Daily Herald when the play happened, and I've watched the play over and over now. The first thing that should be mentioned is it was a terrific call by special teams coordinator Dave Toub. He said the Lions had been overplaying returns to the left in the first half, so when the Bears opened the third quarter they called a naked--the blocks would start out left and then Knox would cut it back right. There was nothing but daylight, and some key blocks from Corey Graham, Jamar Williams and Josh Bullocks, active for the first time this season, helped spring Knox.

I can't tell you with certainty whether the ball reached the plane of the goalline or not before he released it. Unless you have a better camera angle than what was provided on television, you won't be able to tell either. Frozen near the goalline, it looked darn close. Knox flipped the ball backward with his right hand. It landed a yard into the end zone. That right there makes me believe he probably did reach the goalline. He didn't flip the ball forward. Obviously, no official was in position to make a definitive call on whether he pulled a DeSean Jackson or not. The Lions were smart not to challenge the play because the television replays showed nothing in the way of indisputable evidence. Moreover, a successful challenge would have meant the Bears had the ball first-and-goal at the one.

It's fair to say Knox will get a short chat from Toub. Other than that, it's a fun sidenote to the second-longest kickoff return in franchise history. It marked the fourth consecutive year the Bears have had a kickoff run back for a touchdown, and it's their sixth since 2005.

Now to some game observations. It was a good win for the Bears to get to 3-1 entering the bye week, but I think the way the Lions really outplayed them, especially in the first half, raised some valid questions. Let's go through five positives and five things to work on:

Here are the inactives for the game:

Bears

WR Juaquin Iglesias
WR Devin Aromashodu
CB D.J. Moore
LB Pisa Tinoisamoa
G Lance Louis
DT Matt Toeaina
TE Michael Gaines
LB Hunter Hillenmeyer

Lions

QB Drew Stanton
WR Derrick Williams
S Kalvin Pearson
OT Jon Jansen
G Daniel Loper
DE Turk McBride
DT Sammie Hill
DE Dewayne White

That means Kevin Smith will start at running back for the Lions with a bruised shoulder. The Lions are without two starters on their defensive line as end Dewayne White and tackle Sammie Hill are sidelined. That means Landon Cohen and Jason Hunter will be starting. Also, Ko Simpson replaces Marquand Manuel at strong safety.

Some pregame notes

*** Strong-side linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa did some running and exercising on the field. This is the third game he has missed, and at this point the Bears are hopeful he will return in two weeks at Atlanta.


Three games into the era of Lovie Smith as defensive coordinator, I took a look at the tendencies the team has had using the blitz thus far. ESPN.com put out some interesting numbers earlier in the week showing that the Bears were blitzing more than 47 percent of the time, second-most in the league.

Smith didn't want to talk about tendencies, but said he goes into the game each week with a plan in mind and then adjusts as the game unfolds. If you'll recall, he put the blame on himself for one blitz at Seattle last week. The Seahawks were facing third-and-19 from the Bears' 39-yard line, and Smith called the blitz. Seneca Wallace dumped a little screen pass into the flat to Julius Jones and he broke an arm tackle try by cornerback Charles Tillman along the sideline to scoot all the way to the end zone. The Bears rushed six on the play--linemen Adewale Ogunleye, Tommie Harris and Israel Idonije, linebackers Lance Briggs and Hunter Hillenmeyer and free safety Kevin Payne. Right end Mark Anderson dropped into coverage. There was minimal pressure but plenty of open space for Jones. With long odds for the Seahawks to pick up 19 yards, Smith probably wishes he would have been more conservative.

It's a zone pressure similar to what was diagrammed here at the National Football Post by Matt Bowen, who played safety in the league under Smith in St. Louis. One of the first blitzes Smith installed when he got to St. Louis was "Storm." Bowen does a great job of taking you through the X's and O's and explaining how and why the play works. He details the responsibilities in coverage.

Turns out Lance Briggs did not have full participation in practice today. The official report is out and the weak-side linebacker didn't do quite everything that he normally would on a healthy day. He's listed as questionable for the game, but I still fully expect him to suit up and starter. For the Lions, running back Kevin Smith had limited participation again today with a shoulder injury. He will likely be a game-time decisions.

Here is the official injury report:

Bears

Doubtful

LB Hunter Hillenmeyer, rib, DNP-DNP-DNP
LB Pisa Tinoisamoa, right knee, DNP-DNP-DNP

Questionable

LB Lance Briggs, foot, DNP-LIM-LIM
DE Alex Brown, left ankle, DNP-LIM-LIM
DL Israel Idonije, knee, LIM-LIM-LIM

Probable

DT Anthony Adams, knee, LIM-LIM-FULL
TE Desmond Clark, rib, LIM-FULL-FULL
RB Matt Forte, knee, LIM-FULL-FULL
DT Tommie Harris, knee, LIM-FULL-FULL
LS Pat Mannelly, arm, LIM-LIM-FULL
LG Frank Omiyale, ankle, FULL-REMOVED FROM LIST

Lions

Doubtful

DT Sammie Lee Hill, ankle, DNP-DNP-DNP
S Kalvin Pearson, quad, DNP-DNP-DNP
DE DeWayne White, hamstring, DNP-DNP-DNP

Questionble

RB Kevin Smith, shoulder, DNP-LIM-LIM
DE Cliff Avril, hamstring, LIM-LIM-LIM
DT Grady Jackson, knee, LIM-DNP-DNP
CB Eric King, shoulder, LIM-LIM-LIM
LB Ernie Sims, shoulder, LIM-LIM-LIM

Probable

QB Drew Stanton, knee, FULL-FULL-FULL

Lance Briggs had full participation in practice in practice today, according to coach Lovie Smith, and the weak-side linebacker is expected to start Sunday vs. Detroit.

Hunter Hillenmeyer (rib) and Pisa Tinoisamoa (right knee) were the only players who missed practice, and right now it looks like neither will be available during the game.

The official injury report has not been released yet, but here is a preliminary look at how it is expected to break down. Again, this is not official:

The final United Football League rosters are out.

I took a quick scan at them for players with ties to the Bears or local interest. Maybe I missed one or two, but I hope not. Here is what I found:

California: Obafemi Ayanbadejo, Steve Edwards, Bobby Sippio

Florida: Tim McGarigle, Todd Sauerbrun

Las Vegas: Russ Michna, Tony Parrish, Nick Turnbull

New York: Trey Brown, Simeon Rice

Chances are improved that tight end Desmond Clark will return from a broken rib after missing only two games. Clark is expected to have full participation in practice this afternoon when the Bears get going in about an hour. Clark has had two days of limited practice--Wednesday and last Friday.

Running back Matt Forte (knee) is also expected to have full participation after being limited on Wednesday.

Linebacker Lance Briggs (foot) will also return to practice on a limited basis today. The same goes for long snapper Pat Mannelly (arm) and defensive linemen Israel Idonije (knee), Anthony Adams (knee) and Alex Brown (ankle).

Linebackers Pisa Tinoisamoa (knee) and Hunter Hillenmeyer (rib) are out and it looks less likely they will be available Sunday.

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