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October 2012 Archives

Titans coach Mike Munchak 'a big fan' of Jay Cutler

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Mike Munchak as a player.jpgTennessee Titans head coach Mike Munchak was the Titans' offensive line coach when Jay Cutler was at Vanderbilt. So he has intimate knowledge of Cutler's college career. And like most coaches, he likes him.

''We coached him in the Senior Bowl, our staff did when he was coming out that year,'' said Munchak, a 10-time All-Pro offensive linemen with the Oilers. ''And obviously playing here in Vandy, I’ve seen him play quite often. I've met him a few times over in the work room that week and at charity functions. So I'’ve always followed his career because of that as he moved from Denver to Chicago. And I like him.

Maybe it's because he's a former offensive lineman, but unlike most coaches who rave about Cutler, Munchak doesn't list Cutler's "great arm" first among the Bears' quarterback's attributes.

''I'’ve always liked his attitude, his approach to the game. A strong arm,'' Munchak said. ''He'’s a guy when he gets hot he can be a huge problem for you and for your defense. He can make all the throws. All those things. I'’ve always been a big fan of his. And I guess being more local here, being in Tennessee and watching him at Vandy, we got to know him a lot more than some other quarterbacks.''

After an aggressive offseason, the Bears offense was projected to establish itself among the league's elite.

Through seven games, though, the Bears offense isn't among the league-leaders in any meaningful category, other than rushing yards per game (9th).

But new Bears receiver Brandon Marshall thinks the unit is about to make a turn. Marshall 2.jpg

"We're close to being a really explosive group," Marshall said. "We're close to being effective in each phase of the game on offense. I know we're working hard to get where we want to be.

?Will we be the No. 1 offense? I don't know about that. It's our first year for all of us being together but we have the ability to be a really great, explosive offense. I think that will come sooner than later."

No. 1 is far-fetched, but they certainly should be better than 26th. Last season, the offense ranked 24th overall in yards.

Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is now working his third offensive coordinator, and he remains hopeful that the offense will start to find more success under Mike Tice. But he's not sure what the future holds.

"We could be playing this type of ball in December. I don't know. I can't tell the future," he said. "All I know is offensively, we're going to try to get better, I'm going to try to get better each week and each day, and I know the guys that we have in that room are going to try to get better.

"I believe in our coaches and the system we have. They're going to do the best possible job they can to put us in situations to be successful."

Quarterback Jay Cutler wouldn't say too much about making a return trip to Nashville, Tenn. -- where he spent four years at Vanderbilt -- for Bears' matchup against the Tennessee Titans this weekend.

"I get to check on my house. That's about it," Cutler said. "Other than that, it's just another game."

All Bears fullback Evan Rodriguez can do is sit and wait.

Bears quarterback Jay Cutler admitted on his radio show Monday that offensive players were "a little frustrated" with their performance in a 23-22 victory over the Carolina Panthers.

But on ESPN 1000's Waddle & Silvy Show, Cutler also delicately danced around the latest analysis of his body language and on-field exchanges.

As he was coming off the field Sunday at Soldier Field, cameras captured Cutler muttering what appeared to be an expletive as fans cascaded him and his teammates with boos.

"I think the Chicago fans know it was a lousy performance," Cutler said on ESPN 1000.

In the first half, Cutler was four of nine for 40 yards with one interception and a lost fumble. He also was sacked six times.

"I mean I'd boo us too," Cutler said after Sunday's game. "I told those guys it was a boo-worthy performance, if you will.

"It was pathetic, offensively, what we put out there."

But Cutler stepped up in the fourth quarter, rallying the Bears from a 12-point deficit. He completed 12 of 14 passes for 106 yards with a touchdown in the fourth quarter, bolstering his standing as the league's best quarter in the final 15 minutes of a game.

Still, Cutler wasn't pleased.

He said Monday that offensive players need to do more, including himself.

"It'll take time for the offense to develop," he said. "We're winning games -- defense is keeping us in it."

Carolina Panthers perennial Pro Bowl receiver Steve Smith, who averaged 149 yards per game against the Bears, had seven catches for 118 yards on Sunday.

All of those were with Bears cornerback Tim Jennings on him.

But the only one who got in the end zone Sunday was Jennings -- and Smith was a bit peeved afterwards.

"I slipped, sir. I slipped," Smith said to reporters after the game. "The ball was thrown. He picked it. That what-if game, and this and that, that requires energy that I just don't have right now to go through.

"That was the best play he made all game on me," Smith said. "But it was a key moment in the game, changed the momentum. I know you want to pump him up. But I've been kicking his ass every time I come up here. And today wasn't no different. Do you disagree?"

Well, certainly Jennings would. He was complimentary of Smith. Steve Smith.jpg

"It's very important when you got a Pro Bowl receiver like that's been playing the game at a high level like that his whole career," Jennings said. "He's going to make some plays. But I had to have the mentality that I got to stay up and stay playing aggressive and minimize his playmaking ability."

Regarding his pick-six, Jennings matter-of-factly said, "I had an opportunity to make a play on the ball, the quarterback threw it, and I was able to catch it and take it to the house."


Nate Collins in; Okoye, Toeaina inactive vs. Panthers

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Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and defensive tackles Amobi Okoye and Matt Toeaina head the Bears' inactive list for Sunday's game against the Carolina Panthers.

Jeffery is out with a broken hand. With Okoye and Toeaina inactive, defensive tackle Nate Collins is active for the first time this season. Collins was impressive in training camp, but has not been active since coming off the suspended list after Week 1.

The other inactives are wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher, guard/center Edwin Williams, tight end Brody Eldridge and defensive end Cheta Ozougwu.

With Sanzenbacher and Jeffery inactive, the Bears will have just four wide receivers against the Panthers: Brandon Marshall, Earl Bennett, Devin Hester and special-teamer Eric Weems.

Sherrick McManis, who missed Monday night's game against the Lions with a hip injury, is active. So is Zack Bowman, who took McManis' spot on special teams against the Lions.

Maybe Jay Cutler is really tough or his ribs aren't as bruised and battered as first thought. Either way, it was a good sign that the Bears quarterback fully participated in practice on Thursday.

And it was a full practice for the Bears.

The Bears defense is off to a brilliant start this season. But they certainly aren't overlooking the struggling Carolina Panthers offense.

"Last year, that was probably our worst game of the season," Bears defensive end Julius Peppers said, referring to his current team's 34-29 victory over his former team. "We really didn't play well at all against those guys last year. They really took it to us. We're actually looking forward to getting back out there and getting another chance at redemption against them."

Peppers said the Panthers' offense "outplayed" the Bears defense.

"They pretty much did whatever they wanted to do," he said.

Peppers is right; the Panthers had a franchise-record 543 yards with then rookie quarterback Cam Newton completing 27 of 46 passes for 374 yards and running for another 35 yards. All told, he accounted for three touchdowns.Newton.jpg

In addition, Steve Smith had eight catches for 181 yards and the Panthers piled up 169 rushing yards.

Newton appears to be in a sophomore slump, with nine turnovers and struggling in the fourth quarter of games.

Gabe Carimi in action.pngIs Gabe Carimi getting any better?

The former first-round draft pick who missed most of last season with a knee injury is leading the team with eight penalties, including two holding calls against the Lions on Monday night.

It's always difficult for us laymen to judge offensive linemen, but especially in Carimi's case. For one thing, what's the measuring stick? Should the expectations be high because he's a first-round draft pick? Or should they be low because he missed most of last season with a knee injury?

Asked to evaluate Carimi's performance this season, Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice used 271 words to say five: ''He's a work-in-progress.''

''I told you when we moved Gabe to the right side [that] Gabe -- not to insult him -- is not the type of athlete I see that should be on the left side. When Gabe's plays are ugly, they're ugly because of that reason.

''And, he wants to kill guys. He gets himself so overextended over his feet because he's trying to knock guys out, that the second move -- on the [first] holding call, on the down block -- he was going to murder that guy.

''He gets himself out of whack because he's being a little overly aggressive. So, we're going to settle him down, make sure he brings his feet with him on some of these blocks where it does look ugly or he's getting those penalties. But he plays extremely hard. They're all playing hard right now, but he plays very hard. But his ugly plays are ugly.''

Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera enjoys watching tape of the 2012 Bears defense.

"Kind of neat to see those guys flying around," he said.

Especially since he worked with some of those players, including linebackers Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher and cornerback Charles Tillman and defensive end Israel Idonije. But Rivera said this year's defense could actually be better than the 2006 unit he was the defensive coordinator of.

"Compared to the 2006 one that we went to the Super Bowl with, I think this group can be better. I really do," Rivera said. "Because the front four is probably better (than 2006), and it really begins with those guys up front."

"I think their front four can rush as well as anyone in the league. They can get after the quarterback with just the four guys."Rivera.jpg

Rivera added that the linebackers play downhill football and that the defensive backs are "opportunistic."

"You look at what Charles Tillman does, and the way he's redefining stripping and knocking the football out," Rivera said. "It's really a true testament to that defensive philosophy that's been there for quite some time.

Continuity, though, is also a key to the success of the unit, Rivera said.

"They've been doing it a long time. And the rest of the guys pick up off their lead," Rivera said. "It's an exciting bunch to watch. I enjoy watching tape as we break it down against these guys, and we have some common opponents."

Jay Cutler full-speed ahead for Panthers on Sunday

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Jay Cutler (smiling presser).jpgJay Cutler says he'll be good to go for Sunday's game against the Carolina Panthers. The only question is just how good that will be.

Cutler bounced back after suffering bruised ribs on a vicious -- but legal -- takedown by Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh in the Bears' 13-6 victory on Monday Night Football. But he wasn't sharp. Cutler was 7-of-15 for 77 yards and a 64.8 passer rating after suffering the injury.

''It was really tight,'' Cutler said Wednesday at Halas Hall. ''Just getting my backside through the ball. I wasn't kind of coming through exactly how I wanted to. I thought Mike did a good job of managing. I missed some throws I'd like to have back, but that's part of it.''

Before he was introduced Tuesday night at his charity event, Brandon Marshall had a video played featuring prominent sports personalities Warren Sapp of NFL Network and Stephen A. Smith of ESPN.

In the clips, Sapp calls Marshall a "retard" and Smith says that Marshall has multiple personalities.

Marshall has been clinically diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, which affects at least 14 million in the United States.

"Our goal is to break these stigmas," Marshall told the crowd at Lucky Strike. "Borderline Personality Disorder is the most stigmatized disorder. I think it's a shame.

"If we raise awareness, we will see a change in our communities and in our lives."

The fundraiser Tuesday night was for Project Borderline, Marshall's non-profit. Teammates Jay Cutler, Brian Urlacher, Devin Hester, Johnny Knox and Israel Idonije were showed up, along with other sports celebrities like Gale Sayers and Dan Hampton.

"I was supposed to go to the Bieber concert tonight," Urlacher jokingly said. "He does a good job in the community. It's a good cause, and it's Brandon."

As Jay Cutler continued to publicly downplay the hard hit by Ndamukong Suh Monday night, Bears receiver Brandon Marshall insisted the Detroit Lions defensive tackle crossed a line.

"Listen, I'm around Jay every day, and I'm going to stand up to this. Jay doesn't want to create any controversy," Marshall told the Sun-Times Tuesday night from his Bowling for Borderline event at Lucky Strike. "Was it the worst hit? No, it wasn't the worst hit. But I've never seen someone play the game like that.

"For a wrestling move to be accepted on the football field is ridiculous. It was illegal. It wasn't borderline illegal. It wasn't suspect. It was illegal. It's bad football."

Tuesday morning, a league spokesman said the play was legal and "not a foul."

During his weekly appearance on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on WMVP-AM (1000), Cutler said his bruised ribs wouldn't hold him back from playing next Sunday against the Carolina Panthers and again defended Suh's play.

"It was a tough hit,'' Cutler said. ''He caught me just right. It was an awkward fall more than anything and kind of caught me on his knee and the ball a little bit. I'll be all right."

Asked why he was so insistent on speaking out, Marshall said he was defending the "integrity of the game."

"But it does hit home harder when it is your buddy. We don't want to see that," he said.

Marshall pointed to teammate Johnny Knox as an example. Knox is trying to recover after major surgery following a vicious hit to the back last season.

"You see what he has to do everyday to get his body back in a position to play again," Marshall said. "You see guys going down every year. You pull for guys. You don't rejoice when you see guys go down."

Cutler-Suh.jpgBears quarterback Jay Cutler, who suffered bruised ribs and was temporarily knocked out of Monday night's victory over the Detroit Lions when he was sacked by Ndamukong Suh, said he's feeling the effects of the hit but will be ''good to go'' for Sunday's game against the Carolina Panthers at Soldier Field.

''It was a tough hit,'' Cutler said Tuesday on ''The Jay Cutler Show,'' his weekly appearance on ''The Silvy & Waddle Show'' on WMVP-AM. ''He caught me just right. It was an awkward fall more than anything and kind of caught me on his knee and the ball a little bit. I'll be all right.''

Cutler said he does not plan to take any painkillers this week. ''I'm just tight,'' he said. ''Everyday movements I'm all right. We have to throw on Thursday, s it'll be a little bit tight. I'll be good to go by Sunday.''

League spokesman says Ndamukong Suh hit was legal

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With the exception of receiver Brandon Marshall, other members of the Bears didn't seem to have any issue with Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh's hard sack of Jay Cutler.

Neither does the NFL.

"Legal play, not a foul," a league spokesman said in an email from London.

Cutler and coach Lovie Smith also didn't have any problem with the play, which bruised the quarterback's ribs and forced him to head to the locker room early.

It looked like a takedown move straight out of the WWE. But it was just the Detroit Lions' Ndamukong Suh doing what he does and that's playing violently.

The massive defensive tackle with a nasty reputation grabbed Bears quarterback Jay Cutler by his left arm and shoulder and then drove him hard into the ground, bruising his ribs in the second quarter.

Cutler lay on the ground for a few moments, giving the Bears and their fans a huge scare just before Halloween. But he ran off on his own power, was later checked out in the locker room and returned for the second half.

But was Suh's hit on Cutler dirty?

It's debatable. You can see it either way.

The Bears and their fans breathed a huge sigh of relief when quarterback Jay Cutler returned in the second half of Monday night's game after enduring a violent takedown by Detroit Lions brute Ndamukong Suh.

cutlerdet.jpgCutler wasn't his usual self after getting his ribs bruised, but he was effective -- and tough -- enough to maintain the Bears' lead in the 13-7 victory on "Monday Night Football." He'll be re-examined this week as part of "normal" protocol, Bears coach Lovie Smith said.

We're hitting the streets of Chicago with Bears Cornerback Peanut Tillman today. Want to congratulate him on the huge Bears win yesterday? We'll be live-blogging here so check back for clues on our whereabouts and you can come out to meet him. The whole thing starts at 11:30 a.m. today.

Here's the clues:

First stop: We're going to bring our own party to this dealership on Randolph:

Second stop: Just do it: Swoosh into this store on Michigan Avenue and pick up some Bears gear for Peanut to sign.

Final stop: Forever hungry? Sample some "Peanut" butter fro-yo and "peanut" butter hot chocolate with Peanut Tillman at this Frozen Yogurt place in the Gold Coast.

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How to find us:

Follow @Suntimes, @PeanutTillman and @SeanKJensen on Twitter to find out where we are. Use the hashtag #CSTStreetTweets to join in on the fun. Anything could happen!

Don't forget to download the Chicago Sun-Times Bears Extra app for in-depth analysis of the Bears and their opponents, games, photo galleries, video highlights and more.

Jeffery, McManis, Toeaina among inactives vs. Lions

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Alshon Jeffery.jpgInjured wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, cornerback Sherrick McManis and defensive tackle Matt Toeaina headed the Bears' inactive list for Monday night's game against the Detroit Lions at Soldier Field.

Jeffery suffered a broken hand against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Oct. 7 and could miss 4-6 weeks. Dane Sanzenbacher is active in his place. Earl Bennett, who missed the previous two games with a hand injury, is active against the Lions.

McManis, a key special teams contributor, is out with a hip injury. Newly acquired former Bear Zack Bowman is active and figures to play on special teams against the Lions.

Toeaina started the season opener against the Colts but was inactive the following three games. He was active against Jacksonville, as the Bears wanted an extra defensive lineman available in the near-90-degree heat in Jacksvonville.

The other inactive players are guard/center Edwin Williams, tight end Brody Eldridge, defensive tackle Nate Collins and defensive end Cheta Ozougwu.

Phil Emery: Jon Scott made Chris Williams expendable

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Jon Scott .jpgBears general manager Phil Emery said the emergence of reserve offensive tackle Jonathan Scott as a swing tackle and roster concerns at other positions were among the key factors that led to the Bears releasing former first-round draft pick Chris Williams this week.

That the Bears cut Williams wasn't a big surprise, the timing of the move seemed a little curious. The Bears did not replace Williams on the roster with an offensive lineman. Unless he was affecting locker room chemistry, why was there no room for a player with Williams' versatility and experience?

''There are a lot of dynamics involved,'' Emery told WBBM-AM's Jeff Joniak on the Bears' pre-game show Monday night. ''You've got to look at your whole roster, decide who is that 49th or 53rd player, their standing on the team; the depth behind it; how it affects your locker room chemistry; how you're going to be moving forward; and the player you're bringing in. There's a lot that goes into it.''

Meet Peanut Tillman on Street Tweet adventure

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Want to meet Chicago Bears Cornerback Peanut Tillman? Tuesday you can.

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Join Sun-Times columnist Sean Jensen as he hits the streets of Chicago with Tillman beginning at 11:30 a.m. tomorrow. They'll be giving away prizes, food and signing autographs.

Follow @Suntimes and @SeanKJensen on Twitter to find out where they'll be in the city. Use the hashtag #CSTStreetTweets to join in on the fun. Anything could happen!

Lovie Smith .jpgBears coach Lovie Smith said wide receiver/kick returner Devin Hester, bothered by a sore quad, is probable for Monday night's game against the Lions at Soldier Field.

With the Redskins and Bills being fined $20,000 each this week for violating the league's rules on injury reports, Smith almost literally read from the script after practice Saturday. ''We've got to make sure we get this injury list right,'' he said. ''Alshon Jeffery as you know is out. Sherrick McManis is getting better, but we're going to list him as questionable right now.

''Probable guys will be Blake Costanzo and Devin Hester. They were both able to do some things today, quite a bit today. So they'll be ready to go. We're in pretty good shape. We knew Alshon Jeffery would be out. Hopefully we'll have everybody else ready to go.''

The Bears have not played since beating the Jaguars 41-3 in Jacksonville on Oct. 7. ''We've been practicing forever,'' Smith said. ''It's about game time. There's nothing else for me to say.''

The Bears (4-1) play the Detroit Lions (2-3) at 7:30 p.m. on Monday Night Football at Soldier Field. The Bears have won seven of the last eight games in the series.

The Bears certainly have been opportunistic this season, tied for the league-lead with 17 takeaways despite playing just five games.

So the question raised today at Halas Hall was this: Who has the best hands?

"I don't know who has the best hands," Lance Briggs said, "but whoever has the best hands, I'm definitely top three. I can tell you that much.

"I'm putting myself in the top 3."
Briggs Hands.jpg
So where does Brian Urlacher rank?

"I'm No. 1. I just never get around the ball," Urlacher said.

Informed that Briggs ranked himself in the top three, Urlacher asked, "Which guys did he put ahead of him?"

Informed that Briggs didn't say, Urlacher quipped, "I'm putting myself in front of him."

Urlacher doesn't have a pick yet this season but the Bears have a league-best 13 interceptions. Tim Jennings leads the way with four followed by Major Wright with three.

Remarkably, the Bears have scored five defensive return touchdowns this season.

That isn't by accident, Briggs said.

"We have a score chart for our defense with a point system. Everybody wants to get on that board." said Briggs, who has scored twice this season. "Everybody wants to lead that board and break records on that board. When you see other guys scoring you love it because to us it's Bears scoring, but you want your opportunity. And when you're opportunity comes, you want to make something happen."

Calvin Johnson is now the league's highest-paid receiver after a brilliant 2011 season.

He had 96 catches for 1,681 yards with 16 touchdowns.

This season, though, he's not leading in any major receiving category, and his numbers aren't as eye-opening: 35 catches for 558 yards with just one touchdown. Megatron.jpg

"I think teams are doing everything they can to try to take him away. Any time we get inside the 10-yard line, they are vicing him or rolling guys over the top, whatever they're doing to try to keep him out of the end zone," Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford said. "We've just got to do a better job of finding other guys and other guys making plays, and me putting it on other guys to get sevens."

Not that Stafford has any complaints about Johnson.

"Everybody wants a true No. 1, and we have one of the best, if not the best, No. 1 wide receiver in the league," Stafford said. "It changes some coverages and changes some thing on game days that you've got to adjust to, but he makes a lot of plays."

Last week in Philadelphia, Johnson had just one catch for 28 yards in the first half. But he had five catches for 107 yards in the second half.

The Lions won 26-23 in overtime.

Jay Cutler (smiling presser).jpgIt's not easy being Jay Cutler.

The Bears quarterback struggles with the attention he gets. Cutler generally doesn't like speaking publicly, bristles at tired subjects and abhors questions about his demeanor, criticism of his demeanor or anything that dares him to reveal what it is that makes him tick.

The perfect storm ensued before a full house at the Halas Hall media room Thursday in anticipation of a Monday Night Football game against the division rival Detroit Lions. It didn't take long for Cutler to reach his limit. And, truth be told, he wasn't alone.

Reporter: ''Do you care about people psycho-analyzing you, are you tired of it?''

Cutler: ''Like who?''

Reporter: ''Like Phil Simms said you're mean.''

Cutler: ''He said more than that. You take things out of context. That's the problem.''

Bears receiver Brandon Marshall gets it and he doesn't. While he understands why media and analysts have piled on quarterback Jay Cutler for just about everything, he continues to disagree with what they're saying.

Lovie Smith on Chris Williams: 'It just didn't work'

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Chris Williams.jpgFew NFL coaches are as loyal to their players as Bears coach Lovie Smith. So he was sincerely disappointed that the Bears finally cut former first-round pick Chris Williams on Tuesday.

''There are some tough decisions you have to make when you have guys around here for awhile. And when you have to release a player like Chris Wiliams it's always tough,'' Smith said after practice Wednesday. ''Chris was a good guy in the locker room. Just a great guy in general. Helped us win a lot of football games.

''But we had gone in a different direction and when you go in a different direction you want to let your players have an opportunity to play somewhere else. That's part of the decision we made to move in a different direction with him. We wish himn well. I know he'll get picked up by somebody else fairly soon.''

There are many theories as to why Williams didn't make it. He was injured as a rookie. He was moved from left tackle to right tackle to left guard. He had short arms. Though lauded for his technique, he wasn't as strong as many other left tackles.

''I think sometimes it just doesn't work,'' Smith said. ''There's not a good explanation I can give you, except when you see that it's not going to work out, it's time to move on. And that's what we did.''

Taylor Lewan.jpgNow that Bears general manager Phil Emery has eliminated Jerry Angelo's mistake by cutting former first-round pick Chris Williams, he'll get a chance to see if he can do any better.

Unless J'Marcus Webb suddenly morphs into Jake Long -- or even Duane Brown -- a starting left tackle figures to be No. 1 on the priority list at Halas Hall. This will be the first big test for Emery's fortified scouting department and a chance to see if they've learned from previous mistakes.

Marty Barrett and Jeff Shiver, who were area scouts when the Bears drafted Williams in 2008, are now in key positions of authority -- Barrett is the director of college scouting; Shiver is the assistant director of college scouting.

The Bears don't figure to have the 14th overall pick, as they did when they drafted Williams in the first round. And there probably won't be 12 or more offensive tackles who become NFL starters like there were in 2008.

But that's what separates the perennial contenders from the teams that make the Super Bowl one year and miss the playoffs four of the next five -- finding the one guy who fits. The same year the Bears whiffed on Williams, the Packers took Josh Sitton from Central Florida -- who wasn't even invited to the NFL Combine -- with the last pick of the fourth round (135th overall). He's a five-year starter with a Super Bowl ring.

Bears organization has "reached out" to Karen Pettry

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Bears chairman George McCaskey, who earned his reputation as the ticket office director, was stunned by the death of fan Chris Pettry in Jacksonville.

"Just a tragic situation," McCaskey said Tuesday. "We certainly feel for the family. I'm very proud of our players and the way they've banded together to help out the family."

Bears tight end Kellen Davis hosted a fundraiser at John Barleycorn in Wrigleyville Saturday and receiver Brandon Marshall has separated offered his support to widow Karen Pettry of Lake Villa.

But the organization has also stepped up.

"The organization has reached out to the family," McCaskey said, "and were going to leave the nature of the response between the Bears and the family."

The Bears officially parted ways with offensive tackle/guard Chris Williams -- the 14th overall selection in the 2008 draft -- on Tuesday.

Another week, another former quarterback turned television analyst offering their take on Bears quarterback Jay Cutler. But unlike Terry Bradshaw, Phil Simms had positive things to say about him.

Bears receiver Brandon Marshall is hosting a fundraiser at the Lucky Strike in Chicago next Tuesday evening to benefit his non-profit Project Borderline.

Comedian Gary Owen and other celebrities will join him at Lucky Strike on 322 East Illinois Street. The event starts at 6 to 7 p.m. with celebrities arriving on the red carpet.

General admission tickets are $200 but cost to bowl starts at $5,000 for four bowlers and two guests.

For more information, visit www.thebrandonmarshall.com.

Bears-Lions fight.jpgThe Bears (4-1) emerged from their bye week in first place in the NFC North and with the second-best record in the NFC behind the unbeaten Atlanta Falcons. And even though it's still early in the season, they've played well enough to earn the right to approach next Monday night's game against the Detroit Lions (2-3) at Soldier Field with the big picture in mind.

''We know this is going to be a tough test for us,'' Bears cornerback Tim Jennings said Monday. ''This is going to be a huge game for us to make sure that we stay where we're at -- because we really want that bye week going into the playoffs. We need to take care of this one.''

The Bears lost to the Lions 24-13 at Ford Field last year, but won 37-13 in a wild game at Soldier Field, highlighted by interception returns for touchdowns by Major Wright and Charles Tillman that turned the game into a blowout and led to a fight between Stafford and Bears cornerback D.J. Moore.

Jennings said ''there's always going to be bad blood'' between the teams, but mostly because they are division rivals.

''We know we've got to go through one another to get that championship we [want],'' he said. ''So there's always going to be bad blood with them, Minnesota and Green Bay. So it's nothing different. They're going to come in here with the same attitude I'm sure, the mentality that they don't like us. They want to win and it's going to be a dogfight to the end.''

The Bears returned to work Monday at Halas Hall and also made a roster move. They signed tight end Brody Eldridge, while waiving running back Kahlil Bell.

Karen Pettry just wanted to say thank you. To the Bears players who offered their support. To the anonymous fans who made donations. To everyone.

"I can't say thank you enough," Pettry said Saturday night during a fundraiser at John Barleycorn in Wrigleyville for her family in honor of her husband Chris.

Phil Emery.jpgBears general manager Phil Emery denied a report that he is negotiating a contract extension for coach Lovie Smith, reiterating his pre-training-camp comments that ''my preference is do do these things at the end of the year.''

In a post-practice bye-week interview with reporters at Halas Hall, Emery also said he has no issue with quarterback Jay Cutler' on-field demeanor, saying he consider naitonally televised incidents Cutler has had with left tackle J'Marcus Webb and offensive coordinator Mike Tice as family squabbles. ''I'm a Jay Cutler fan,'' Emery said.

Asked to ''shed light'' on the WSCR-AM report that he had begun negotiations with Smith on a contract extension, Emery said, ''That's an interesting word, 'light,' because I kind of took that light-hearted when I heard it.

''Geez, even if it was true, when would we have gotten that done? Coach Smith is very focused on improving his team on a daily basis. My mindset is with the personnel group and working with the coaches and making sure we have the right people on the roster on a daily basis, going out to colleges, doing visitations, getting ready for the next NFL draft. There's not enough hours in the day to have those kind of conversations.''

It wasn't Bears cornerback Charles Tillman's best game of his career, but the historical significance of one of his plays earned him another distinction.

Tillman was named the NFC defensive player of the week on Wednesday after setting a Bears record with his eighth career defensive touchdown in Sunday's 41-3 romp past the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Bears GM Phil Emery inspired by Brandon Marshall

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Bears general manager Phil Emery took a calculated risk when he traded two third-round picks to the Miami Dolphins to acquire three-time Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall.

So far, it's been a key move in the team's 4-1 start.

But Emery didn't provide the cursory quote about Marshall. Check it out. Marshall Practice.jpg

"I think that's evident just through his play and his numbers and his statistics," Emery said. "But way beyond what he's provided for us, in terms of offensive firepower, is the person that Brandon is, the leadership he's provided on our field.

"He speaks of professionalism. What he does on the practice field, I admire and I look up to. It tells me in my role, for the team, that I need to continually raise my level. If you watch him on a daily basis on what he does as a professional, going out there to improve himself and to make others around him better, it is a sight to see."

Bears general manager Phil Emery didn't close the door. But he laughed off a question about the Bears opening up negotiations with coach Lovie Smith on a new deal.

Asked to shed light on a report suggesting the two sides have opened discussions, Emery said, "That's an interesting word, light, because I kind of took that lighthearted when I heard it. Phil Emery.jpg

"I said, 'Geez, even if that was true, when would we have gotten that done?' Coach Smith is very focused on improving his team on a daily basis. All the things that he does in terms of myself, my mindset is with the personnel group and working with the coaches and making sure we have the right people on the roster on a daily basis, going out to colleges, doing visitations, getting ready for the next NFL draft," Emery said. "There's not enough hours in the day to have those kind of conversations."

The Bears, though, have provided players contracts during the season. Asked if he would keep that tradition going, Emery said, "Again, I said this at the beginning of the camp, my preference is to do these things at the end of the year.

"There may be a situation where it's to the club's advantage and the player's advantage to do something during the season, but my preference and most often that's better to wait until the end of the year until you have a full evaluation in moving forward with that. That applies not only to our players but to our head coach and our coaching staff."

Jay Cutler at the bye: 'We're getting there.'

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Jay Cutler.jpgBears quarterback Jay Cutler acknowledged the bye week could have come at a better time than after Week 5 -- especially after the Bears had 501 yards of total offense -- said the week off still will allow the offense to improve.

''We're getting there,'' Cutler said after a light practice Tuesday at Halas Hall. ''We're not where we want to be. It's a long season. We've got to take this bye week, take a look at what we're doing and just get better.''

What do the Bears need to work on? Cutler indicated it's little things more than big ones.

''Details. A lot of things,'' Cutler said. ''Offensively we just need to take a look at things and figure out what we're doing well and what we're not doing, correct it and get back ....

The Bears are 5-3 after the bye week under Lovie Smith. But they're 0-3 when the bye comes prior to Week 7.

''Yeah, you [would rather have] it in the middle of the season,'' Cutler said, '' but this is how it worked out and now we've got 11 straight. We've got to take this time to get a little rest, because it's a long grind after this.''

The players will have Thursdsay-Sunday off this season. That's a nice break for them no matter what time of the season.

''You get away for a couple of days,'' Cutler said. ''With this new schedule we're out of here for four days. That's nice. But you're never too far away from it.''

Simply put, losing rookie wide receiver Alshon Jeffery is a considerable loss for the Bears

jefferyhand.jpgJeffery was having the best season among rookie wide receivers in the NFC. His 184 receiving yards lead all first-year receivers in the conference and his two touchdowns have provided balance for the Bears.

The Sun-Times reported Monday that Jeffery will be out four to six weeks with a fracture in his right hand suffered in the Bears' 41-3 rout of the Jacksonville Jaguars. But surgery won't be required. Jeffery had a 10-yard touchdown catch to open the fourth quarter, but it was his last play of the game.

Tennessee Titans wide receiver Kendall Wright is the only rookie having a better season than Jeffery with 27 catches, 214 yards and two touchdowns.

Bears rookie receiver Alshon Jeffery will not require surgery to repair a fracture in his right hand but is expected to be sidelined four to six weeks, according to a league source.

Jeffery scored a touchdown at the start of the fourth quarter to give the Bears a 20-3 lead. But it's unclear if he suffered the injury during that play. After he left the field, though, it was announced that he would not return with a hand injury.Jeffrey.jpg

Dr. Steve Shin, a hand and wrist specialist at Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Los Angeles, didn't have any issues with the timetable, although he doesn't know the exact nature of the injury.

"Four to six weeks is a very reasonable period of time," Dr. Shin said. "I don't know where the fracture is and what bone is affected. But if it doesn't need surgery, it's probably a non-displaced, stable fracture that can be treated."

A second-round pick out of South Carolina, Jeffery has emerged as a key part of the Bears offense. He has 14 catches for 184 yards and two touchdowns.

Jeffery underwent an x-ray today and a cast was placed on his right hand.

Given the timetable, the Bears will have to consider whether to place him on the injured reserve, thus ending his season. But given his importance and the fact that he can stay in shape by running, they may try to let him heal and return late in the season.

The Bears have been without key veteran Earl Bennett the last two games due to injury. But Bears coach Lovie Smith said Bennett should be ready to go coming out of the bye.

One free-agent receiver who makes sense is Rashied Davis. But the Bears released him with an injury settlement. And, per league rules, the Bears couldn't re-sign him until Week 8. Last week, he worked out for the New Orleans Saints.

From the play of right tackle Gabe Carimi to footwork in the pocket to parental lessons, Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, as always, addressed a number of subjects Monday during his weekly radio show, which is part of "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on WMVP-AM.

A day after the Bears' 41-3 shellacking of the Jacksonville Jaguars and with "Monday Night Football" just hours away, subjects also included the New York Jets' quarterback controversy. The Jets host the Houston Texans, arguably the most complete team in the NFL, on Monday night.

Jay Cutler lauds teammate Carimi: 'It matters to him'

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Cutler leads Bears on the field.jpgMaybe Jay Cutler is becoming more tolerant in the wake of the J'Marcus Webb incident in Green Bay on Sept. 13. Or maybe he just has a fine appreciation for guys who make it obvious that this isn't just a hobby for them, either.

Whichever it is, Cutler offered strong support for right tackle Gabe Carimi, who was mired in a little difficulty at times in the Bears' 41-3 shellacking of the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday at EverBank Stadium in Jacksonville.

Carimi, a first-round draft pick last season, was called for holding, was beaten for a sack and had back-to-back false-start penalties in the game. But Cutler, on ''The Jay Cutler Show,'' -- a popular spin-off of ''The Waddle & Silvy Show'' on WMVP-AM -- gave Carimi his full support, with encouraging comments that resonate maybe more clearly than he intended when compared to his lambasting of Webb during the Packers game. (For what it's worth, Carimi had an unnecessary roughness penalty and a holding penalty that stunted promising Bears drives in the Packer game.)

''The thing I like about Gabe is that it's really important to him. It matters to him,'' Cutler said. ''He's one of those guys you really don't have to say much to him. When he gets beat or whenever he loses [a battle], he's the first one there to say, 'Hey, I'll get him next time.' Gabe's going to be fine. That's the last thing I'm worried about.''


The reward of winning two road games in seven days will soon be an extended break away.

The Bears will practice Tuesday and Wednesday then coach Lovie Smith is giving his players time off until next Monday when they will begin preparations for the Oct. 22 Monday Night Football game against the Detroit Lions at Soldier Field.

"You want to have a good taste in your mouth going into the bye week, which we have. But a lot of work needs to be done," Smith said. "In an ideal world for a coach, you want to have the type of game we had yesterday. But when you watch the video, you can correct and make improvements and be critical a lot easier coming off a game like that."Lovie Smith.jpg

In my opinion, the bye doesn't come at an ideal time for the Bears. By and large, they're relatively healthy, and they seem to be getting into a groove, even on offense. And given the way the defense is playing, you'd imagine the Bears would want to keep rolling along. But they have no say in the matter, and they'll have a Week 6 bye.

Smith wants his players to take advantage of the break.

"I want the players to get away, enjoy the bye week, get away from football, whatever they want to do," Smith said, "then get ready for this long haul hopefully we're going to have the rest of this year."

Frankly, the schedule isn't too bad. The Lions at home followed by the Carolina Panthers at home. Then comes the best litmus test yet, another home game against the undefeated Houston Texans -- perhaps the most well-rounded team in the league -- then a Monday night game in San Francisco.

Bears coach Lovie Smith didn't provide much information on rookie receiver Alshon Jeffrey, who suffered the injury against the Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday.

Jeffrey, who scored a 10-yard touchdown, didn't finish the game and had his right hand heavily wrapped.

"We're continuing to evaluate it, to see exactly where he is," Smith said of Jeffrey. Jeffrey.jpg
Meanwhile, Smith seemed more optimistic about Earl Bennett and Evan Rodriguez. Both players were inacive the last two games.

"Earl Bennett, Evan Rodriguez, guys like that should be good to go next time we play," Smith said.

With a bye this weekend, the Bears next play Monday Oct. 22 against the Detroit Lions at Soldier Field.

Brian Urlacher still didn't believe what he had witnessed Sunday at EverBank Field.

Charles Tillman and Lance Briggs intercepted passes and returned them for touchdowns -- just like they did against the Dallas Cowboys.

"It's unreal," Urlacher said. "I've never seen anything like it."

Neither has anyone else.

According to the NFL, Tillman and Briggs are the first teammates in league history to each return an interception for a touchdown in consecutive games.
Tillman Briggs.jpg
Throw in Major Wright's interception return for a touchdown, and the Bears have five pick-sixes -- also an NFL record.

"I know they know how important it is to take the ball away but, after a while, you see one guy doing it and you want to join in on that action," Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "It's discouraging for the offense too, when you get in [the end zone]. We know we win when we score one time [on defense] and I think it is probably safe to say we haven't lost when we've scored a couple of times on the defensive side."

Julius Peppers:Lance Briggs.jpgJulius Peppers is neither easily impressed nor prone to overstatement. But the more he thought about it, the more he realized that this Bears' defense is unlike any other he has ever played for.

Five defensive touchdowns in five games? Two pick-sixes in back-to-back weeks? By the same two players?

''I haven't seen it in a while,'' Peppers said, before pausing. ''I don't know if I've ever seen it before.''

But that was as far as Peppers would allow himself to be impressed after the Bears beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 41-3 on Sunday at EverBank Stadium.

What does it say that after the Bears struggled to a 3-3 halftime tie against the Jaguars, they outscored them 38-0 in the second half to win in a rout.

''It says we need to play better in the first half,'' Peppers said. ''It's says we're not there yet. We have a lot of things to clean up and we can get a lot better, because it was a 3-3 ballgame. It wasn't necessarily good enough in the first half.''

The Bears five interception-return touchdowns in five games matches the franchise record set in 2004, Lovie Smith's first season as the Bears' head coach when the team had five pick-6s -- by Jerry Azumah (70 yards), Nathan Vasher (71 yards), R.W. McQuarters (45 yards), Michael Haynes (45 yards) and Lance Briggs (38 yards).

Terry Bradshaw.jpgFox-TV pre-game co-host and Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshow offered his take Sunday on Bears quarterback Jay Cutler's sideline snub of
offensive coordinator Mike Tice in Dallas on Monday. And, like before, it wasn't positive.

"I know I would never act like that," Bradshaw said on ''NFL Sunday'', hours
before the Bears played the Jaguars in Jacksonville. "I would show
respect to the head coach and offensive coordinator. I would never do,
Jay, what you did to Mike Tice. No matter if he was in your ear the
whole time screaming and hollering.

"You know you've got millions of people watching. If I were you, I
would learn how to be a little bit nicer. I know you don't care and
nor do I care if I ever sit down and do an interview with you - which
I have yet to do - maybe there's a reason for that. I like everybody.
I'd like to like you but right now I don't like you. Grow up young
man."

earl bennett.jpgWide receiver Earl Bennett, still recovering from a hand injury, heads the Bears' inactive list for Sunday's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Stadium in Jacksonville.

Bennett, who missed last week's game against the Cowboys, practiced this week and said he felt ready to play. By being inactive this week he will have four weeks off before the Bears play the Lions on Monday Night Football on Oct. 22 at Soldier Field.

The Bears' other inactives are guard/tackle Chris Williams, running back Kahlil Bell, fullback Evan Rodriguez, guard/center Edwin Williams, defensive tackle Nate Collins and defensive end Cheta Ozougwu.

With Bell inactive, Armando Allen will be the Bears' No. 3 running back. And defensive tackle Matt Toeaina will be active after being inactive the past three games.

Keys for Bears and Jaguars today at EverBank Field

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The Jacksonville Jaguars, 5-11 last season, are off to a 1-3 start.

But the combined record of the three teams that beat the Jaguars is 11-4 and each team is at least tied for first place in their respective division.

Last week, the Jaguars were beaten at home by the Cincinnati Bengals, 27-10. The Bengals sacked Jags quarterback Blaine Gabbert six times, and the Bengals were 18 yards shy of 400 offensive yards.
It's unclear which Bears offense will show up, the one that looked potent in the opener and the victory in Dallas Monday night, or sloppy and lethargic in the other two games. But the Jaguars know what they can expect from the Bears defense, which is ranked high in a number of key categories.

"Don't turn it over, don't throw it to them, don't have missed communication with receivers and quarterbacks," Jags coach Mike Mularkey said. "We have to protect better than we did last week and catch the ball better and play like we're capable of playing.

"If we don't, the results will not be good, which we've already experienced."

Here are three keys for each team:

FOR THE BEARS
1) Get off to a fast start - A baby step. That's what the Bears offense took in Dallas. No, they didn't score on the opening drive, but they picked up three first downs and helped with field position. The second drive was a three-and-out, but the offense pieced together a 13-play drive in the second quarter that set up a 43-yard field goal.
2) Stop Maurice Jones-Drew on the ground - Even after holding out during training camp, the three-time Pro Bowl selection and reigning rushing champion has gotten off to a strong start. He averages 4.9 yards per carry, and he's got 352 rushing yards. He's a load to bring down out of the backfield, but the Bears will be content to let him continue to be Gabbert's top receiving target; Jones-Drew's longest catch has yielded just 13 yards.
MJD2.jpg

It was nothing but pretty positive news for the Bears on the injury front as rookie tight end Evan Rodriguez was only the player not to participate in practice on Friday.

Brian Urlacher may not always like playing in the Bears' Cover-2 scheme. But Tim Jennings absolutely loves it.

And, why wouldn't he?

Jennings is starring in it right now. He was named the NFC defensive player of the month on Thursday after recording a league-best four interceptions, one tackle for a loss, 18 tackles and six pass break ups, including two that led to interceptions for teammates.

marshall.jpg

Brandon Marshall just had his best game in a Bears uniform.

Seven catches, a season-best 138 receiving yards and a 38-yard touchdown reception against the Dallas Cowboys in a resounding 34-18 win on Monday night more than made up for average outings in consecutive weeks.

Cutler:Tice row.jpgBears offensive coordinator Mike Tice looked surprised when Jay Cutler got up and walked away from him during the Bears-Cowboys game on Monday night. But he laughed when asked about the incident Wednesday at Halas Hall.

''He probably had enough of me telling him why the [third-and-one] play didn't work,'' Tice said. ''I get enough of me sometimes, too. I can talk a little bit, as you guys know.

''Jay and I are good. I really admire his play the other night. I really admire how he's prepared himself right now. I really admire how he's bought in.

''It's an emotional game. Sometimes I'm sure we all wish we had handled things differently -- and I'm not saying he should have handled that differently, but it's an emotional game.

When Jay Cutler left the NFC title game during the 2010 season with a knee injury, Jacksonville Jaguars Pro Bowl running back Maurice Jones-Drew was one of the most vocal active players to criticize the Bears quarterback.

Jones-Drew on his Twitter account questioned Cutler's toughness and said he should have finished the game. In later interviews, Jones-Drew insisted he didn't regret his criticism and wouldn't apologize.

Asked about it Wednesday during a conference call, Jones-Drew said, "I never got a chance to work it out with him.

"But that was two years ago. I'm just happy that he's smiling. For a while, he wasn't smiling during the year and you always want to see players having fun and enjoying the game. Obviously, you know about me and Matt [Forte]. To see them winning, I'm happy for [Cutler]. Hopefully, those two don't perform to the best of their abilities this week. Me and coach [Mike] Tice are very close as well. I don't know if a lot of you guys know that. You're always happy for the guys you've worked with and are friends with around, so that obviously includes Jay with those guys as well.

"What's in the past is in the past. A lot of things have changed. I have two kids. I got married. I heard he got married and had him a child. Matt Forte has gotten married; I saw him at the wedding.
A lot of things have changed since then."

Asked why he said it, Jones-Drew said, "Uh. I think I explained that enough two years ago.

"I don't really want to get into that. Jay said it best. That's not going to affect his game, what I thought about him two years ago."
MJD.jpg
Meanwhile, Jones-Drew did seem to have a beef with Forte, one of his friends.

"I haven't talked to him. I'm a little upset he didn't come to my wedding, and I flew out to Chicago for his, so I might switch over to defense and play a couple of snaps just for that reason," Jones-Drew playfully said.

As for Cutler's brush-off of Tice Monday night, Jones-Drew downplayed the incident.

"During the course of a game, there's so many things and emotions that are flying and going on. I don't think there's a problem with that at all," he said. "There's been times in games, where guys disagree on things, because emotions are flying and things happen. I think people try to read into too much sometimes."

Bears-Cowboys.jpgAfter four weeks, the Bears are fifth in the NFL with 17.0 points allowed per game -- 68 total. But it gets better than that for Lovie Smith's defense.

Not only has the Bears' defense allowed only 54 of those points (Jay Cutler threw a pick-six against the Colts and the Packers scored a touchdown on a fake field goal), but it has scored three touchdowns after Charles Tillman and Lance Briggs returned interceptions for scores in the Bears' 34-18 victory over the Cowboys on Monday Night Football.

That's a net of 33 points allowed in four games, which is tied with the Houston Texans for the best in the NFL in that category. And not too many teams are even that close to the Bears and Texans. The next five teams are the 49ers (51), Cardinals (54), Seahawks (58), Chargers (64) and Cowboys (67).

Heading to Cowboys Stadium for Monday Night Football, Bears receiver Brandon Marshall nearly cried, overcome with emotion.

"It felt like a tidal wave building all week, crescendoing," Marshall said. "All glory to God. I'm just thankful that he chose to use me. It's humbling to be in this type of venue, this atmosphere. I really wanted to enjoy it and take advantage of this opportunity."

Marshall had his best game this season, catching seven passes for 138 yards, including a 31-yard touchdown.

Jay Cutler may have had something to do with it.

"He pushed us tonight," Marshall said of his quarterback. "He challenged us throughout the week, and I think it transferred over to game day."

Marshall Cowboys.jpg
Marshall was targeted eight times, a team-high. But, Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten was tarted 14 times, catching 13 passes for 112 yards, including one touchdown.

The Bears moved Marshall around, constantly looking for favorable match ups, something Cowboys coach Jason Garrett noted.

"They do a good job that way, and he does a good job," Garrett said of the movement. "He's a physical reciver. He kind of pushes off the top of things and creates some separation, and he did that throughout the ball game and Cutler did a nice job of finding him."

Through four games, Marshall has 23 catches for 352 yards with two touchdowns.

Jay Cutler downplays bench incident with Mike Tice

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During the second quarter, ESPN cameras televised Bears quarterback Jay Cutler get off the bench and walk away after offensive coordinator Mike Tice sat down next to him.

Cutler may have been frustrated with the late delivery of play calls from the sideline; he used a timeout with 6:08 remaining in the first quarter.

But Cutler downplayed the incident after the game. Two weeks ago, in Green Bay, Cutler was captured bumping into left tackle J'Marcus Webb.

"It wasn't about anything," Cutler said. "I don't have to sit by him the whole game, do I?"
Cutler Dallas.jpg

Reporters are not permitted to speak to coordinators and assistant coaches after games, but Tice will next be available Wednesday.

Asked if there were communication issues, Bears receiver Brandon Marshall coyly said, "Jay frustrated?

"No, Jay's never frustrated or mad. That's part of the football game. We wanted to have a lot of rhythm coming into this game. It took a quarter to get there. We finally got there. I think we all saw the tempo of the game throughout the second half."

Cutler responded, putting together one of his finest games in a Bears uniform.

He finished 18 of 24 for 275 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. His passer rating was 140.1, his highest mark since the 2010 season.

tonyromo1.jpgFour things to watch in tonight's Bears-Cowboys Monday Night Football game:

1. Which QB blinks first? - The idea that both Jay Cutler and Tony Romo will play a flawless game is a fairytale. One of them will mess up, and likely mess up at a crucial time. It's in their blood, it's their DNA. It's the reason that both are considered franchise quarterbacks, but not elite quarterbacks. So who will it be?

2. Where is Ware? - J'Marcus Webb either keeps his job tonight or is replaced by Jonathan Scott before the Jacksonville game. That will all depend on Webb's ability to slow down DeMarcus Ware.

3. Murray must go down, and he must go down hard - Stop DeMarco Murray, stop the Dallas offense. Since Murray took over as the full-time running back for the Cowboys with a breakout 253-yard game last season against St. Louis, the formula for their offensive success has been simple: When Murray has 20 carries or more in a game, Dallas has never lost - 6-0 in that time, going back to Oct. 23 of last season. As a matter of fact, the win over Tampa Bay last weekend was the first time in 11 games in which Murray had less than 20 carries [18] and the Cowboys still won the game.

4. Keep it simple, Mike - Mike Tice's play-calling the first few weeks has been a work in progress. Keep it simple. The Bears claim to have a nasty one-two punch in running backs Matt Forte and Michael Bush, so use them. Don't let the Cowboys defense build momentum.

Bears running back Matt Forte is active for tonight's game against the Dallas Cowboys. But, the home team will be missing one of its key defensive players, strongside linebacker Anthony Spencer.

For the season, he has 21 tackles and two sacks.

For the Bears, the inactives are: rookie fullback Evan Rodriguez, guard Edwin Williams, offensive tackle Chris Williams, defensive tackle Matt Toeaina, receiver Earl Bennett, defensive end Cheta Ozougwu and defensive tackle Nate Collins.
Spencer.jpg
Bennett will be replaced by Dane Sanzenbacher, who is active for the first time this season.

Forte apparently impressed coaches and trainers enough in pre-game warm ups. He missed the Bears victory over the St. Louis Rams with an ankle injury.

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