Chicago Sun-Times

November 2012 Archives

cutlerjefferson.jpgAdd quarterback Jay Cutler to the list of Bears who were fined for plays or actions in Sunday's win against the Minnesota Vikings.

Cutler was fined $10,000 for taunting, according to a league source. Cutler was penalized for taunting Vikings cornerback A.J. Jefferson late in the first quarter.

Cutler scrambled for a 13-yard gain and was pushed out of bounds by Jefferson on the play. Cutler stiff-armed Jefferson on his way out of bounds. He then flipped the ball back at Jefferson as he made his way back to the Bears' huddle to receive the penalty.

"I was just trying to toss him the ball gingerly and say 'Good job', and they caught me, so...," Cutler said after the game.

Brian Urlacher and Henry Melton fined by NFL

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Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen wasn't the only player fined for rough play last Sunday at Soldier Field.

Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher was fined $15,750 for a horse collar tackle and defensive tackle Henry Melton was fined $7,875 for a face mask, league sources confirmed. Both infractions were against Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who wasn't injured on either play.

Both Melton and Urlacher are expected to appeal.

Allen, meanwhile, was fined $21,000 for a hit on Bears guard Lance Louis that ended his season with a torn ACL.

hester23.jpgThe Bears won't have the game-changing services of kick returner/receiver Devin Hester when they face the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. Hester (concussion) was officially ruled for Sunday after missing his second practice in a row on Thursday.

"Hester is getting better," coach Lovie Smith said after practice.

But then Smith added, "[it will] be awhile still."

Hester suffered his concussion last Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings. Veteran Eric Weems took over Hester's spots on offense and special teams and will do so again this week against the Seattle Seahawks.

Bears running back Matt Forte was limited in practice for a second consecutive day, and he said he expected to play Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks.

"I'm feeling good," Forte said.

Asked how bad the ankle injury was, Forte said, "I don't know how bad it is, but it hurt.

"I've been doing a lot of different stuff, seeing the chiropractor, working on it, sleeping in the hyperbaric chamber. That seems to work pretty well. I just continue to do what I did last time."

Forte said he has a hyperbaric chamber at home that he uses. Forte Catch.jpg

The Bears offensive line will be different on Sunday, but Forte said he has to give them the benefit of the doubt.

"It doesn't change my approach at all. I've just got to trust those guys up front," Forte said. "They're getting a lot of reps in practice right now so they know what to do in the game, and if we make mistakes in the game, go to the sideline and make adjustments so that we don't continue to make them."

The Bears offense has been inconsistent this season, but they generated some momentum against the Minnesota Vikings last week.

"I think it all will come along. It doesn't matter when or how many catches I make to have me be effective. When we played the [Tennessee] Titans, I didn't catch a lot of balls, but you get one big play out of it, that's getting involved in the passing game," he said.

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In another sign that the ankle injuries of Bears cornerback Charles Tillman and linebacker Lance Briggs aren't serious, both took part in practice -- albeit on a limited basis -- on Thursday.

Tillman and Briggs sat out Wednesday's session, but could be seen in the Bears' locker room walking and jogging around without any noticeable signs of injury.

Briggs also met the media on Thursday, saying he plans on playing Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks.

russellwilson.jpgRussell Wilson may not be generating as many headlines as fellow rookie quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, but there's no reason to overlook him.

In some ways, the Seattle Seahawks rookie is doing just as well as his more talked-about colleagues. He's had a solid rookie campaign, proving many doubters wrong.

"I always believed in my talents," Wilson, a former star at Wisconsin, said this week during a conference call with Chicago media. "So when I was drafted, I knew that they obviously liked me a good amount. I just knew that it was a situation -- no matter what the circumstance it was, no matter where I was going to go -- I was going to put my best foot forward and try to do everything I can to compete at the highest level.

"I knew that I'd be ready. I knew that I would prepare in the right way. It helped me a lot to get ready. Coach [Pete] Carroll told me basically right after rookie mini-camp, the last day, you've got an opportunity to be the starting quarterback here for the Seattle Seahawks. I was ready for that."

Briggs, Tillman, Hester, Spencer, Davis miss practice

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Peanut Tillman.jpgIt was almost easier for Lovie Smith to list the players who participated in practice Wednesday than those who did not.

Linebacker Lance Briggs (ankle), tight end Kellen Davis (ankle), wide receivers Devin Hester (concussion) and Alshon Jeffery (knee), guard Chris Spencer (knee) and Charles Tillman (ankle) did not practice. And running back Matt Forte (ankle) ''was able to do a little bit, some individual drills,'' Smith said.

But the longtime Bears coach provided no further information on the injuries or the prospect that any or all of them would be able to play against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday at Soldier Field.

''We've never been in this situation very often -- haven't been in it all this year,'' Smith said. ''The rest of the guys had to step up, which they did.''

Briggs, Tillman and Kellen Davis are likely to start against the Seahawks. Jeffery is expected to be out at least another week or two after having arthroscopic surgery last week. Edwin Williams is expected to start for Spender. Eric Weems had already been the deep man on both kickoffs and punts even before Hester suffered his concussion.

Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen was fined $21,000 for his blindside hit of Bears guard Lance Louis, according to a league source.

Louis tore his left ACL, and he was placed on injured reserve Monday. The Bears on Tuesday signed former Pro Bowl center Andre Gurode for depth.

On the opening drive of the third quarter of Sunday's 28-10 Bears victory, quarterback Jay Cutler was off mark on a pass to open receiver Brandon Marshall, who tipped the ball into the air. Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield intercepted it and sprinted down the left sideline. Jared Allen2.jpg

Louis was turning toward Winfield, who passed him, and he was blindsided by Allen, who was trying to make a block. As he crumbled to the ground, Louis' left leg appeared to get caught up in the turf.

"I thought it was a legal hit. He's running to make a tackle, so I just made a block," Allen said. "I turned around, he was trying to make a tackle, and I threw myself into him. Just trying to make a block, just like we're taught.

"I'm never trying to hurt anybody. I'm trying to make a block and spring our guy. It's unfortunate."

Louis has started all 11 games this season, and he started 13 of the 14 he played in 2011. A seventh-round pick 2009, Louis is a converted tight end who has emerged as arguably the team's best offensive lineman.

The website Pro Football Focus has him rated as the team's best lineman, giving up two sacks, two hits and seven hurries. By contrast, right tackle Gabe Carimi has given up seven sacks, nine hits and 28 hurries.

Adderall is apparently all the craze in the NFL.

But Bears receiver Brandon Marshall said he's heard stories of other performance enhancers players use to gain an advantage. viagra.jpg

"It's such competitive league and guys try anything just to get that edge," Marshall said. "I'm fortunate enough to be blessed with some size and smarts to give me my edge.

"I've heard crazy stories. I've heard of guys using Viagra, seriously, because the blood, it's supposed to thin," Marshall said. "I don't know. Some crazy stuff. It's kind of scary with some of these chemicals that are in some of these things, so you have to be careful."

There was no punchline, which means Marshall must really have heard that.

Given the league's stringent policies, Marshall said players have to be very vigilant about what they put in their bodies.

"Any time you take anything over the counter, if you don't approve it with your training room, you can get popped that quick. So it doesn't matter if it's DayQuil, NyQuil, any type of cough medicine - even Halls - it's a really strict program that the NFL has," he said. "Some of it's fair, but some of it kind of puts you in a tough spot as a professional athlete. Because the only thing you'll see is getting busted for PEDs, but it could be something over the counter for a little sickness. You just have to be on top of your Ps and Qs."

Asked if he's ever taken Adderall, Marshall said, "No, I don't take any medication, so I'm pretty much healthy, thank God.

"But I've had surgeries before, and I make sure that my doctors are in constant communication with our training staff to whatever I'm taking at the time. I'm thankful enough that I don't have to take any medication of any sort. That's good."

Where the Bears stand in Pro Bowl voting among fans

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Fan votes count for a third of the total in determining which players head to the Pro Bowl, and the Bears are in solid standing.

But once again, the Green Bay Packers dominate, at least from the fan perspective. Peyton.jpg

Here's some perspective:

* The three leading vote-getters are Peyton Manning (586,523), Tom Brady (534,020) and Arian Foster (519,261). Aaron Rodgers is the top-vote getter in the NFC but fourth overall with 485,196 votes.

* Henry Melton leads NFC defensive tackles with 155,377 votes, ahead of Justin Smith, Dwan Edwards and Ndamukong Suh.

* Brandon Marshall is second in the NFC at receiver, behind Victor Cruz but ahead of Calvin Johnson.

* Minnesota Vikings rookie Matt Kalil is the top vote-getter in the NFC with 117,564 votes.

The Bears elevated linebacker Patrick Trahan from the practice squad to the active roster Wednesday morning, reaching the NFL maximum.

The Bears then filled Trahan's spot on the practice squad by signing defensive end Aston Whiteside. Trahan.jpg

Trahan appeared in five games last season, and finished with five five special teams tackles. Trahan has been on the Bears' practice squad the last 11 weeks.

Whiteside is also a familiar face; he was on the practice squad the first five weeks of this season after spending most of the preseason with the Bears.

Could Bears be in play for Jason Babin?

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The sinking ship that is the Philadelphia Eagles has been tossing employees overboard lately, except for head coach Andy Reid.

But the Eagles surprised some when they released two-time Pro Bowl defensive end Jason Babin Tuesday, and the Bears are believed to be among the teams interested in him. Babin.jpg

During the 2011 offseason, Babin received interest from several teams, including the Bears, but he signed a five-year, $27 million contract with the Eagles. He immediately rewarded the Eagles with 18 sacks. But Babin has just 5 1/2 sacks this season, and he was released today.

Babin is subject to the waiver claims process, which means the teams with the worst record gets the first shot at him. Since he's 32 years old, Babin probably isn't too thrilled about the prospect of the Jacksonville Jaguars claiming him.

Meanwhile, Babin could draw serious interest from some contenders in need of a pass rusher. While Babin is more of a pass-rushing specialist, he could thrive on a team that essentially wants him for that specific role. For the Bears, Babin could line up in obvious passing situations, like third and long.

The cost for Babin isn't too steep. He's owed about $1.4 million for the remainder of this season, and he's under contract next year for $4.2 million.

The Bears currently have $4.4 million in salary cap space, which means they have the room to claim Babin. But the Bears also likely are working to sign a couple of players to long-term deals.

Five-time Pro Bowl offensive lineman Andre Gurode weighed different options, but he wanted to patiently wait for the right one.

"This is it," Gurode told the Sun-Times. "It's an absolute great opportunity to come into a great organization with so much history, and a team doing well, and be able to help out when they need it."

The Bears signed Gurode Tuesday after working him out to fill the loss of starting right guard Lance Louis, who was placed on Injured Reserve after tearing his ACL. Gurode.jpg

Gurode has 127 NFL starts, mostly with the Dallas Cowboys. But he had offseason surgery on his left knee in 2011 then visited several clubs before signing with the Baltimore Ravens.

He started five games for the Ravens, but he never felt right.

"I wasn't able to get healthy the way I wanted to," he said. "I wanted to be tip-top shape and erase any doubts."
He declined to say which teams he visited, but he spent training camp working out and getting his body "the way it should be."

Gurode, 33, is comfortable at guard or center.

"I am in shape, and definitely can help," he said. "I need to learn the offense and, given the right opportunity, a chance to complete."

The Bears didn't make any promises, but Gurode is excited to join a playoff caliber team.

Gurode is 6 foot 4, 318 pounds, and he was originally a second-round pick of the Cowboys. A five-time Pro Bowl selection, Gurode also was a two-time All-Pro. He's started at center and guard with distinction.

Bears sign veteran OL Andre Gurode

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Needing depth after the loss of Lance Louis, the Bears signed five-time Pro Bowl guard Andre Gurode on Tuesday.

Gurode has started 127 of the 151 NFL games he's played over 10 seasons, all but one of them with the Dallas Cowboys. He started five games last season for the Baltimore Ravens.

Gurode is 6 foot 4, 318 pounds, and he was originally a second-round pick of the Cowboys. A five-time Pro Bowl selection, Gurode also was a two-time All-Pro. He's started at center and guard with distinction.

He had left knee surgery and missed the 2011 training camp.

The Bears also waived defensive tackle Amobi Okoye from the 53-man roster. The tam also signed offensive lineman Derek Dennis and receiver Dale Moss to the practice squad and terminated the practice squad contracts of receiver Raymond Radway and guard Chris Riley.

Dennis is a 6-3, 315-pound rookie out of Temple University who originally signed with the Miami Dolphins as an undrafted free agent and also saw time in the preseason with the New England Patriots. Moss entered the NFL this season as an undrafted free agent of the Green Bay Packers out of South Dakota State. The 6-3, 213-pound receiver spent the first 10 weeks of the regular season on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' practice squad.

Bears Pro Bowl running Matt Forte re-injured the right ankle that sidelined him for a game earlier this season but there is optimism he will play Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks, according to a league source.

The injury in Sunday's 28-10 victory over the Minnesota Vikings wasn't as severe as the initial injury against the Green Bay Packers in Week 2. Forte, though, missed the next game against the St. Louis Rams, which was 10 days later. Matt Forte1.jpg

Forte may be rested or very limited in practice this week but there is hope that he will play against the Seahawks. The game against the 6-5 Seahawks is important for playoff positioning and the fact that it's one of the Bears final two regular season home games. The Bears finish the regular season with three out of four games on the road.

On Sunday, Forte was injured on a three-yard run midway through the third quarter. Forte had 14 carries for 42 yards until then, and he walked off the field and toward the team's locker room under his own power.

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Bears guard Lance Louis would not have been injured if quarterback Jay Cutler completes his pass to receiver Brandon Marshall. And Cutler knows it.

"I feel bad about the Lance Louis injury, place that one on me," Cutler said Monday during the opening of his radio show on WMVP-AM (1000) with ESPN's "Waddle & Silvy."

Jared Allen blindside hit.gifWith starting right guard Lance Louis facing a lengthy absence, Bears coach Lovie Smith said Monday that -- with all due respect -- Jared Allen's blindside hit on Louis that caused the injury was unnecessary.

''Jared Allen plays the game a certain way. He's a good player in our league,'' Smith said when asked if he thought the hit was unnecessary. ''But I think there's some plays when you look at them again, you say, 'Hey, we could have done without.' I think our game can do without that play.''

Lance Louis has torn ACL; placed on IR

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An MRI on the left knee of Bears starting right guard Lance Louis revealed a torn ACL ligament, ending the season of the team's most consistent offensive lineman.

The Bears announced that they have placed Louis on the Injured Reserve.

On the opening drive of the third quarter, Bears quarterback Jay Cutler was off mark on a pass to open receiver Brandon Marshall, who tipped the ball into the air. Minnesota Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield intercepted it and sprinted down the left sideline. Lance Louis.jpg

Louis was turning toward Winfield, who passed him, and he was blindsided by Vikings defensive end Jared Allen. As he crumbled to the ground, Louis' left leg appeared to get caught up in the turf.

"I thought it was a legal hit. He's running to make a tackle, so I just made a block," Allen said. "I turned around, he was trying to make a tackle, and I threw myself into him. Just trying to make a block, just like we're taught.

"I'm never trying to hurt anybody. I'm trying to make a block and spring our guy. It's unfortunate."

Louis has started all 11 games this season, and he started 13 of the 14 he played in 2011. A seventh-round pick 2009, Louis is a converted tight end who has emerged as arguably the team's best offensive lineman.

The website Pro Football Focus has him rated as the team's best lineman, giving up two sacks, two hits and seven hurries. By contrast, right tackle Gabe Carimi has given up seven sacks, nine hits and 28 hurries.

"Lance has proven to be one of the top guards in the NFL and it is disappointing that his season has come to an end," agent Bruce Tollner said in a statement. "Lance will have a quick recovery and be back to playing at an elite level."

Carimi replaced Louis in the lineup and did a solid job. But the 2011 first-round pick had never played the position before Sunday's victory over the Vikings. Another option is Edwin Williams, a college center who has started at guard for the Bears.

The most obvious candidate would have been Chilo Rachal, who started eight games this season after signing as an unrestricted free agent. But Rachal left the team after learning that he was being benched last week, and the Bears placed him on the reserve/ non-football injury list, effectively ending his tenure with the club.

Last week, the Bears signed guard Chris Riley, who played at Illinois State, to the practice squad and promoted James Brown to the 53-man roster, to take Rachal's spot. Brown played left tackle at Troy and right tackle in high school.

forte22.jpgThe injuries just keep mounting for the Bears.

With Lance Louis (knee) and Devin Hester (concussion) already ruled out with injuries, running back Matt Forte suffered an ankle injury in the third quarter against the Minnesota Vikings.

Officially, Forte was listed as questionable. But when the fourth quarter started, Forte was not on the Bears' sideline.

After kick returner/receiver Devin Hester was lost with a concussion, the Bears lost arguably their best offensive lineman this season against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.

Right guard Lance Louis suffered a left knee injury early in the third quarter and was ruled out for the remainder of the game.

Louis, who has started every game this season at right guard, was hurt when hit hard by Vikings defensive end Jared Allen during cornerback Antoine Winfield's interception return. Louis was replaced by Gabe Carimi.

hester.jpgBears kick returner/receiver Devin Hester suffered a concussion in the first half of the game Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings.

Hester was ruled out in the second quarter after heading to the Bears' locker room to be evaluated. Veteran Eric Weems took over Hester's spots on offense and special teams.

Hester had a six-yard punt return early in the first quarter, getting tackled by safety Harrison Smith. But briefly remained in the game following the hit.

It's been an up-and-down season for Hester so far. He's yet to return a kick for a touchdown, while having 18 catches for 203 yards and one TD.

D.J. Moore active vs. Vikings; Toeaina, Okoye are out

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D.J. Moore scores a TD.jpgInjured wide receiver Alshon Jeffery heads the Bears' inactive list against the Vikings on Sunday. Dane Sanzenbacher also is inactive, leaving the Bears with four wide receivers -- Brandon Marshall, Earl Bennett, Devin Hester and Eric Weems. And only two of them have nothing else to do. Hester returns kicks and Weems is a key special-teams player.

With three tight ends and fullback Evan Rodriguez, the Bears likely will try to "smash-mouth" their way to victory today. It was effective against the 49ers -- until the Bears abandoned it after two plays in a 32-7 loss on Monday night.

The other inactive player are QB Josh McCown, defensive tackle Matt Toeaina, offensive tackle/guard James Brown, defensive tackle Amobi Okoye and defensive end Cheta Ozougwu.

Nickelback D.J. Moore is active after being inactive against the 49ers. Kelvin Hayden is expected to get most of the nickel reps today. Hayden was burned for a 57-yard pass reception to Kyle Williams on Monday night, but otherwise played well, according to Hayden.

Wide receiver/kick returner Percy Harvin, who is recovering from an ankle injury, is the most notable Viking player inactive. The others are QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson, CB Brandon Burton, LB Audie Cole, G Mark Asper, TE Allen Reisner and DE D'Aundre Reed.

Jay Cutler cleared to play Sunday against Vikings

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cutler_nov24.JPG
Nam Y. Huh/AP Photo


Bears quarterback Jay Cutler was cleared Saturday by an independent neurologist, the final hurdle for his return to the football field.

Cutler is expected to start Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings at Soldier Field, according to two league sources.

Cutler missed last Monday's 32-7 loss in San Francisco after suffering a concussion late in the second quarter of the 13-6 loss to the Houston Texans the week before. Cutler was listed as questionable on Friday's injury report, but the Bears were confident he was ready to play again, pending approval from the independent neurologist.

"It's always good to have your starter back," Bears running back Matt Forte said. "Jay is very comfortable in this offense and in the passing game especially. We've got to get the running game going to help out the passing game."

Cutler practiced again Friday -- doing more than he did the day before -- as he continues to make his way back from his concussion.

On Friday, Bears coach Lovie Smith was very encouraged by Cutler's progress.

"He's getting better," Smith said. "He was able to do more [Friday] than he did [Thursday]. He's looking good.

"It's looking better."

Chilo Rachal .jpgChilo Rachal is gone, but not forgotten at Halas Hall.

The Bears' veteran guard had a tough week, abruptly leaving the team after hearing that he was being replaced in the starting lineup by Chris Spencer for this week's game against the Minnesota Vikings. He has since returned, but is ineligible to play for the Bears for the rest of the season after being put on the reserve/non-football injury list.

The Bears might be disappointed in Rachal, but they also believe it's important for Rachal to get his personal life in order before he returns to football -- which may or may not be with the Bears.

''I don't really want to comment on how he handled things, because that's a personal matter with things he's got going on in his life,'' Bears offensive line coach Tim Holt said Friday. ''The thing that gets lost in what happened the last couple of days is how hard he worked. Everybody has things that come up in their lives. They face adversity. You think you handle things and sometimes ... it's all how you handle the adversity.

''Chilo's a tremendous young man. I think right now he needs [privacy]. I understand people want to know [what happened], but just kind of let him deal with his personal business. Obviously you hate to see something happen like that, but everybody handles things a little bit differently.''

Jonathan Scott with Steelers.jpgThe addition of Jonathan Scott at right tackle and Chris Spencer at left guard might not be a totally seamless transition in Week 12 of the NFL season, but Bears offensive line coach Tim Holt isn't expecting too much of an adjustment period.

''I think those guys will be fine,'' Holt said. ''Both of them have played in the league. It's not like they're rookies or anythign like that. I'm expecting good things from both of them. I think they'll do well.''

Scott has started 28 games at tackle in the NFL, including five last season with the Pittsburgh Steelers. But most of his experience is at left tackle. Spencer has started 92 games in the NFL, but only two at left guard, where he was the Bears' opening-day starter but was replaced by Chilo Rachal in Week 3.

cutler6x.jpgBears quarterback Jay Cutler will meet with an independent neurologist Saturday, and if he's cleared, he may play Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings.

"He's getting better," coach Lovie Smith said.

Cutler is officially listed as questionable on the Bears' injury report, but only because he needs to pass the final step in the NFL's concussion protocol. Cutler practiced again on Friday after being limited on Thursday.

"He was able to do more today, than he did yesterday," Smith said afterward. "He's looking good. ... It's looking better. The last phase of his evaluation will be tomorrow and then we'll be able to let you know more from there."

Bears quarterback Jay Cutler took one more significant step toward playing Sunday.

He was limited in practice on Thursday, after missing the last game with a concussion.

"I know you want to know about Jay Cutler, Shea McClellin. Both of them were able to do some things on a limited basis. So it's looking better for them to get them on the football field," Smith said.

Rookie receiver Alshon Jeffery didn't practice and won't play after undergoing a knee scope Wednesday morning.

Tight end Kellen Davis didn't practice because of an ankle injury. Jason Campbell (ribs), Brandon Marshall (shoulder), Stephen Paea (shoulder) and Matt Toeaina (toe) were all limited in practice, along with Cutler.

For the Minnesota Vikings, receiver Percy Harvin didn't practice.

During the brief period of practice open to reporters Thursday, veteran Jonathan Scott lined up with the starters at right tackle.

Gabe Carimi, a 2011 first-round pick, lined up with the second-string offensive line.

In a blocking drill, Scott was with the starting offensive linemen, next to right guard Lance Louis. A fifth-round pick in 2006 by the Detroit Lions, Scott played at Texas from 2002 to 2005. He was a tw-time All-Big 12 selection and also a one-time All-American. J Scott.png

Scott started 28 games in his previous six NFL season with the Buffalo Bills, Lions and Pittsburgh Steelers.

"Today, just getting into the flow of things," Scott said after practice. "Mesh with the other guys. I just have to be on their page. I'm excited."

Scott hasn't officially been told he'll start. But Carimi acknowledged coming off the practice field that he's no longer starting.

"This isn't the first time in my career people doubt me and it won't be the last," Carimi told the Sun-Times. "I just got to keep working hard. My opportunity will come.

"I'm all good."

Forget about the notion that Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice should focus more on fixing the struggles of the offensive line and relinquish his play-calling duties.

It's not going to happen. Coach Lovie Smith made sure to squash that idea Wednesday at Halas Hall.

"There's no consideration at all on that," Smith said. "I don't know where you [the media] got that from. I doubt if Mike really said that but if he did, I can stop that right now. That's not part of it at all.

" Mike works with the offensive line quite a bit with [offensive line coach] Tim Holt. We need to do a better job with it, like we all need to do a better job. Beyond that it's just business as we've been doing."

ticepic.jpgBears offensive coordinator Mike Tice set the stage for the possibility - maybe even the likelihood - of changes for the Bears' offense, specifically on the offensive line.

He laid it out like this Wednesday at Halas Hall:

** "In a season, when you run three-step drops, you should have no sacks at the end of the season. To give up three in one game is totally unacceptable."

** "It's hard to chip bull rushes, because a guy is down the middle of the guy. At a certain point, a player [and] man has to grit his teeth, buck up and win a fight."

** "The concerns offensively -- the lack of rhythm, the lack of the fast stats, the lack of success on first down [are] still haunting us."

** "We're evaluating our guys to see what's going to give us a best chance to succeed and do some of the things we're trying to accomplish offensively."

Starting guard Chilo Rachal abruptly leaves Bears

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As if the Bears offense doesn't have enough problems, starting left guard Chilo Rachal left the team and has been placed on the reserve/ left squad list due to "personal reasons."

The Bears promoted James Brown to replace Rachal on the 53-man roster. But Chris Spencer, who started the first two games at left guard this season, will return to the starting lineup in place of Rachal at the same position. Rachal.png

Rachal spent the first four seasons of his NFL career with the San Francisco 49ers, starting 38 games. When he signed with the Bears this past offseason, Rachal made an impression and worked his way into the starting lineup early in the season. But in his eighth start, against his former team, Rachal had his worst outing, allowing a sack, a hurry and drawing two holding penalties, mostly opposite 49ers All-Pro defensive lineman Justin Smith. He also struggled in run blocking.

According to a league source, the 49ers knew how to "get in his head," prompting Rachal's poor performance. The source added that Rachal, in general, is emotional and needs constant positive reinforcement.

Brown is a rookie from Troy who flashed some potential during training camp. But Brown is primarily a tackle.

The Bears are not practicing today.

But league rules still make clubs declare whether players would or would not have practiced anyway.

Bears coach Lovie Smith said Jay Cutler, who didn't play Monday due to a concussion, would have practiced today on a limited basis. That's the strongest sign yet that he will be available for Sunday's game against the Minnesota Vikings at Soldier Field. Cutler.jpg

"Jay has to be cleared to practice on a limited basis, which he has been cleared to do that," Smith said. "Before he can play he has to be cleared by an independent neurologist. And we're not to that point. It's about practice right now."

Cutler will practice Thursday, then he'll need to be cleared by an independent neurologist before he plays against the Vikings.

Could Gabe Carimi be headed to the bench?

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Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice didn't say a change was going to happen on the offensive line. But it sure sounds like one is imminent.

Right tackle Gabe Carimi gave up three sacks, one knockdown and one hurry in 31 pass-blocking snaps, according to Pro Football Focus.

Asked if Carimi was affected by his knee or just wasn't performing, Tice said, "I'm not trying to be a jerk but all of the above.

"I think Gabe is so intense and something happens early and he's a young player, he's only played in 11 games and change. He's a young player. He gets all worked up and he doesn't settle down and it compounds. It's happened more than once. It compounds and it keeps building. So he's a young player that has to work through it. He really does."

Asked if a change was coming, Tice said, "We're looking at everything." Mike Tice.jpg

Separately, Tice noted that veteran backup Jonathan Scott has "played good football in his career." Not a glowing endorsement but the Bears don't really have another option if Carimi is benched.

"We've been playing him a little bit, at tight end, trying to get him in there and get his legs underneath him and see what he can do," Tice said of Scott. "And he's done a solid job for us."

dj.jpgBears nickelback D.J. Moore's slide down the depth chart hit rock bottom for "Monday Night Football." Moore, one of the Bears' more personable players, was a healthy scratch against the San Francisco 49ers.

Moore said he learned about being inactive on Monday morning, but that he felt it was coming.

''I was only on one special-team [unit],'' Moore said. ''And I didn't play last week . . . and [San Francisco] is more of a running team, too.''

Moore was active against the Houston Texans but didn't play. Veteran Kelvin Hayden continues to see more time at nickelback.

Alshon Jeffery to undergo scope Wednesday

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Bears rookie Alshon Jeffery's much anticipated return from a broken hand didn't last long. Jeffery played against the San Francisco 49ers but left the game with a knee injury.

According to a source, Jeffery will undergo a scope Wednesday and the hope is he'll be sidelined two to four weeks. The extent of the injury was "minor," the source said. Jeffery 49ers.jpg

Jeffery missed four games with a broken bone in his hand. He returned against the 49ers with two catches for 15 yards on the season, the second-round pick has 16 catches for 199 yards and two touchdowns.

Jay Cutler "felt bad" for Jason Campbell

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Jay Cutler had a lot of empathy for his replacement Monday night in San Francisco.

Veteran Jason Campbell completed just 14 of 22 passes for 107 yards with one touchdown, two interceptions and lost one of two fumbles. Campbell also was sacked six times and pressured in 11 other instances. Campbell 49ers.jpg

"I felt bad for the guy. It's a hard situation to be in," Cutler said on ESPN 1000. "I think backup quarterback is one of the best jobs and one of the worst jobs. It's a tough, tough gig, whenever the guy [the starter] goes down.

"Especially a veteran like him. He's expected to perform at a high level. But I don't think [the offense] gave him a fair shot."

Campbell called the "worst nightmare."

Top receiver Brandon Marshall was targeted just four times, catching two passes for 21 yards, including a 13-yard touchdown.

In the final minutes, cameras showed Marshall having an animated discussion with a teammate.

"I was a little frustrated because I didn't make the play," Marshall said, referring to the final pass intended for him in the game, late in the fourth quarter. "They told me to get back and I actually hurt my shoulder.

"I was telling the guys I hurt my shoulder. I actually told them 'I'm grown' that is the big line a lot of us use 'I'm a grown man.' It was one of those games where things were just going wrong for us. I have to do a better job when I am frustrated of not letting it show. I definitely let the team down. I should have made that play and I didn't."

Cutler said he's already talked to Marshall and "we're all good."

"When I'm there, things go a little bit smoother for Brandon. He's a receiver. He's like any high-end receiver," Cutler said. "If they don't get the ball, they get frustrated... then they get mad. Just throw him the ball, and they'll be happy. Most of the time, they'll make plays for you."

Houston Texans linebacker Tim Dobbins was fined $30,000 for the helmet-to-helmet hit that concussed Jay Cutler.

But the Bears quarterback didn't blame Dobbins and added that defenders are in a tough spot with heightened NFL rules to protect his position. Dobbins Jay.jpg

"I don't think there's ever any malicious intent," Cutler said on ESPN 1000's Waddle & Silvy show. "He's out there reacting and playing football.

"At the end of the day, I wouldn't want to be a defender. It's hard. You're expected to play at an extremely high level, but your target has shrunk."

Asked about the $30,000 fine, Cutler said, "Fair or unfair, those are the rules."

On the play, late in the second quarter, Cutler approached the line of scrimmage, released a pass intended for Devin Hester then was smashed by Dobbins. It appeared Dobbins took at least one step and perhaps two after Cutler released the pass.

Cutler was flagged on the play for crossing the line of scrimmage. But that play offset Dobbins' personal foul penalty.

Despite the debacle, Bears quarterback Jay Cutler still wished he was in San Francisco Monday night.

Asked if he ever thought he was in a good spot on his couch in the Chicago area, Cutler laughed and noted, "No, that never went through my mind.

"I wish I was there."

The Bears were embarrassed 32-7 at Candlestick Park, where the 49ers dominated in every facet. Veteran backup quarterback Jason Campbell was sacked six times and pressured in 11 other instances.

Cutler said he's feeling better but still hasn't been cleared to play Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings at Soldier Field.

"I will play again this year," Cutler said. "No doubt about that." Cutler Bench.jpg
The Bears apparently weren't going to give Cutler any chance to play against the 49ers.

Cutler said coach Lovie Smith and medical personnel met with him and defensive end Shea McClellin, who also suffered a concussion, before they even took any tests.

"Me and Shea both, pass or not pass, everyone was leaning toward us not playing," Cutler said on the Waddle & Silvy show.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Bears receiver Alshon Jeffery left Monday night's game against the San Francisco 49ers in the fourth quarter with a knee injury, but the rookie said he was fine afterward.

On a night when there wasn't much positive to report, Bears coach Lovie Smith cast hope that starting quarterback Jay Cutler could return for the team's next game against the Minnesota Vikings.

"He was feeling better. He got better as time went along," Smith said of Cutler. "We left him at home, didn't have him fly out.

"He was feeling a lot better by the end of the week so it's looking good.''

The Bears thought they had a more than capable backup in veteran Jason Campbell, but he struggled in a 32-7 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Campbell completed 14 of 22 passes for 107 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.

His passer rating was 52.7, and he also fumbled twice, including one in the end zone that resulted in a safety.

Cutler was ruled out for the game against the 49ers Friday after suffering a concussion late in the second quarter of the 13-6 loss to the Houston Texans at Soldier Field.

The Bears return to Soldier Field, where they host the 6-4 Vikings on Sunday.

Cutler is scheduled to make his appearance on his weekly radio show with ESPN 1000 Tuesday.

D.J. Moore TD.jpgNickelback D.J. Moore, who has seen his playing time diminish over the past five weeks of the season, is inactive for the Bears' game against the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football at Candlestick Park.

Moore had 11 tackles and an interception against the Cowboys in Week 4 and also had an interception against the Lions in Week 7. But Kelvin Hayden has been getting the majority of the nickelback snaps in recent weeks. In fact, Moore did not play against the Texans last week.

The Bears' other inactive players for the 49ers game are quarterback Jay Cutler, defensive end Shea McClellin, wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher, guard/center Edwin Williams, defensive tackle Matt Toeaina and defensive end Cheta Ozougwu.

With Cutler, McClellin and Moore inactive for the first time this season, defensive tackle Amobi Okoye and wide receiver Alshon Jeffery will be active for the first time in four games. Jeffery has been recovering from a broken hand. Okoye has been a coach's decision.

Josh McCown will be the Bears' No. 2 quarterback against the 49ers.

Emery: Bears waiting for medical clearance on Cutler

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Jason Campbell with Bears.jpgBears general manager Phil Emery said the Bears are waiting for Jay Cutler to get ''medical clearance'' after his concussion before he would speculate on when Cutler will return to the playing field.

''Jay is feeling better,'' Emery told Bears play-by-play announcer Jeff Joniak on the Bears' pre-game show on WBBM-AM on Monday. ''With any medical situation, it's very unique to the player and the injury he has. We look forward to the day he comes back. We'll wait for medical clearance and move forward from there.''

Emery said he has complete confidence in Jason Campbell, who has started 70 games in the NFL and will start against the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football in San Francisco.

''The No. 1 thing from a general manager's perspective and personnel department, in conjunction with our coaches is to always be prepared,'' Emery said. ''We felt like the quarterback situation ... we wanted a more experienced player and Jason Campbell was available and we were very fortunate to sign him.''

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SAN FRANCISCO -- It's going to be Bears backup quarterback Jason Campbell vs. San Francisco 49ers backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick at Candlestick Park on Monday night.

According to an ESPN report on Monday morning, 49ers starter Alex Smith has been ruled out against the Bears. Despite practicing four days in a row on a limited basis and it being widely thought he'd start against the Bears, Smith hasn't been cleared of his concussion.

While admitting Kaepernick poses some different challenges, the Bears have said all week leading up to "Monday Night Football" that their game plan doesn't change based on who is in at quarterback for San Francisco.

With the return of rookie Alshon Jeffery, the Bears' receiving corps will be at full strength Monday night against the San Francisco 49ers.

Jeffery is officially listed as probable on the injury list. Jeffery last played on Oct. 7, breaking his right hand against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He's missed the last four games.

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All signs continue to point to Bears rookie receiver Alshon Jeffery being active for Monday night's game against the San Francisco 49ers.

For the first time since breaking his right hand against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Oct. 7, Jeffery fully participated in practice on Friday.

After Collins/Hanie debacle, Bears confident in Campbell

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Jason Campbell w: Raiders.jpgStatistically, Caleb Hanie set the standard for Bears backup quarterbacks in the Jay Cutler era when he torched the Denver Broncos for 115 yards without throwing an interception for a 79.9 passer rating in a 13-10 overtime loss last year.

That's how bad Bears backups have been since they acquired Jay Cutler.

Not even the 2-5 record of Cutler replacements does the discouraging scenario any justice. Hanie, Josh McCown and Todd Collins combined to throw five touchdown passes and 16 interceptions for a combined passer rating of 42.7. Collins has one of the two victories, a 23-6 rout of the Carolina Panthers, when he was 6-of-16 for 32 yards, no touchdowns and four interceptions.

Hanie was 0-4 as a replacement for Cutler last year. He threw three touchdowns but gave almost as many back -- two of his nine interceptions were returned for touchdowns against the Seahawks. One against the Raiders was returned 73 yards to the Bears 6-yard line, not only killing a Bears' scoring opportunity, but setting up the Raiders for a demoralizing field goal at the end of the first half.

''We didn't handle last year well. It's documented that we didn't,'' Bears coach Lovie Smith said when asked if the team is more confident with Campbell starting than it was with Hanie last year.

''That's why we went out and felt like we upgraded the position. I know the guys have a lot of confidence in Jason. He's played a lot of football. Started a lot of games. Yeah, we're hopeful. That's why we can't wait to get to this game. Injuries happen and we'll see exactly where we are. But we think we're going to be OK.''

615combo.jpgAs hoped and envisioned by the Bears, the Jay Cutler-Brandon Marshall combination has yielded plenty of good things for the offense this season. The highlights and big plays have actually been numerous.

But now things are different. Cutler will miss Monday night's game against the San Francisco 49ers with a concussion as veteran Jason Campbell gets the start in his place.

"I know my role: It's the receiver [and] the receiver has to adjust," Marshall said Friday at Halas Hall. "Whatever the quarterback wants, you have to give it to him.

"But the thing about Jason is he has a big arm and he has a great feel for the game. [Offensive coordinator] Mike Tice and [quarterbacks coach] Jeremy Bates are doing a great job of putting us in position to make it comfortable for us on Monday."

Jason Campbell looks forward to his return to Bay area

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Bears quarterback Jason Campbell didn't like how things ended in Oakland, after he got the Raiders off to a 4-2 start last season.

While he was sidelined with a broken collarbone, the Raiders traded a pair of picks (a first and a second) for Carson Palmer, who closed out the rest of the season.

The Raiders finished 8-8. Campbell Raiders.jpg

Now, he'll return to the Bay area for a Monday night game against the San Francisco 49ers, and he'll start for the Bears.

"You definitely don't want to see anyone get hurt or injured in this business. You understand that because it is a tough sport, sometimes things like that happen," Campbell said. "It's my first time starting since Oct. [16], I think, last year, when I broke my collarbone. And it'll be going back to the Bay Area.

"It feels good to have an opportunity to get back in there and play."

Of course Campbell wasn't rooting for Cutler, who was ruled out today with a concussion, to get injured.

But Campbell believes he got a raw deal in Oakland, and he wants to prove that he's still an NFL starting quarterback.

He sure didn't look like a comfortable backup last week.

Bears quarterback Jay Cutler will not start, a team spokesman announced, and he'll be replaced in the lineup by veteran Jason Campbell. Campbell Run.jpg

In addition, rookie defensive end Shea McClellin also has been ruled out for Monday's game against the San Francisco 49ers.

The Bears didn't explain why the announcement was made today, before the team's second meaningful practice in preparation for the next game. The Bears will also practice Saturday before holding a walk-through Sunday in advance of their flight to the Bay Area.

Cutler suffered a concussion late in the second quarter of last Sunday's 13-6 loss to the Houston Texans. Linebacker Tim Dobbins drilled him, helmet-to-helmet, and he was flagged for unnecessary roughness. On Wednesday, the NFL also announced Dobbins was fined $30,000 for that hit.

"When a guy has a concussion, whether it's the first or whatever, it's a concern for you," Bears coach Lovie Smith said earlier this week. "He's not going to go back practicing until he's completely well and ready to go.

"He won't play until there's no issues with that."

Concussions have long been in the spotlight but it became an even bigger topic this week, when Cutler, 49ers quarterback Alex Smith and Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick all suffered concussions. Vick was deemed to have a very serious concussion, but Smith was cleared and practiced on a limited basis Wednesday and Thursday.

On Sunday, before the Bears kicked off against the Texans, team CEO Ted Phillips, former players Otis Wilson and Gary Fencer, as well as other guests and experts participated in a forum to discuss concussion/ traumatic brain injury.

Soldiers from the United States Army were in attendance as part of the NFL's partnership with the U.S. Army to improve awareness of traumatic brain injury and further research.

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If Bears tight end Kellen Davis had to pick one play that really bothered him from his tough outing against the Houston Texans on Sunday night, it was the pass he dropped running a wide-open seam route late in the fourth quarter.

"It was a play I've always made and to come up short really made me upset," Davis said Thursday at Halas Hall. "I was disappointed in myself. I have to come back from that and make some more plays for the team."

There's no telling when Jay Cutler will be ready to play again. It may be as soon as Friday afternoon for practice at Halas Hall. Or it may be five Fridays from now.

With that in mind, defensive tackle Henry Melton and linebacker Brian Urlacher both voiced their disapproval for Houston Texans linebacker Tim Dobbins' helmet-to-helmet hit on Cutler, which caused his concussion.

Bears special teams coach Dave Toub said the organization's decision to work out punters this week was based on two things.

"You want to know for the emergency list, No. 1, and ... it's a performance-based business," Toub said Thursday after practice at Halas Hall. "Everybody knows that you need to perform at a high level, and if you don't, as a coach and as a team, you have to explore other options that are out there. You have to know who's available if we do make a change."

Jay Cutler not expected to practice Thursday

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Indications are that quarterback Jay Cutler will not practice today at Halas Hall.

In addition, his usual press conference today will not take place.

Those are both strong indications that Cutler hasn't been cleared by team doctors to return to the practice field, the first key step in hopes of him starting Monday night against the San Francisco 49ers. Cutler suffered a concussion during the second quarter of a 13-6 loss to the Houston Texans last Sunday night.

During a standard week, Cutler addresses reporters on Wednesday, followed by receiver Brandon Marshall. Then, on Thursday, the Bears press conference features two defensive players, usually linebackers Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs.

But with a Monday night game this week, the schedule is pushed back a day. But the Bears announced this morning that they flopped the schedule, meaning the defensive players will hold their press conference today. Those players will be Urlacher and defensive tackle Henry Melton.

The offensive players who will address reporters tomorrow hasn't been announced.

If Cutler cannot start, then Jason Campbell will replace him. Veteran Josh McCown, officially signed Tuesday, will serve as the backup.

An NFL spokesman confirmed that Houston Texans linebacker Tim Dobbins was fined $30,000 Wednesday for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Bears quarterback Jay Cutler on Sunday night. ESPN's Adam Schefter was the first to report Dobbins' fine.

The Bears didn't have a practice today, since they play next Monday night, but quarterback Jay Cutler has started the process of getting medical clearance to return to the field.

When that is, however, isn't clear.

"[Jay Cutler] is getting better. We're still evaluating him, he's meeting with people, medical staff, our trainers and all of that, but he's getting better," Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "We do have a little bit more time and that's always good."

Asked if the fact that Cutler has had multiple concussions -- his last documented was in 2010 -- affected the evaluation process, Smith said, "I can't really get into all that.

"When a guy has a concussion, whether it's the first or whatever, it's a concern for you. We will do everything thing possible to get him back but it'll all take care of itself, whether it's two or whatever. He's not going to go back practicing until he's completely well and ready to go. He won't play until there's no issues with that."

Later, Smith noted that "every case is different." Cutler Down.jpg

"Jay's feeling a whole lot better," Smith said. "It'll all play out."

Smith, though, suggested that the heightened attention on concussions won't really change the Bears approach.

"I just think in the past, if he had some type of symptoms, you took a guy out of a game. So I don't see it affecting an awful lot," he said. "Now people are really on top of concussions a lot more and we probably redefine what a concussion is. A lot of those things have happened but I don't think so."

Much ado about something? Bears working out punters

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Adam Podlesh.jpgThe Bears work out punters every week, Halas Hall sources say. But after another subpar performance by Adam Podlesh, the sight of three or four punters working out on the practice field at Halas Hall on Wednesday morning had a little more significance.

After Podlesh averaged 38.8 yards gross and net on five punts against the Houston Texans on Sunday night, the Bears are 27th in the NFL in gross punting and 21st in net punting.

Podlesh suffered a hip-flexor injury in the preseason but has not missed a regular-season game -- though the Bears did keep rookie Ryan Quigley on the roster for Week 1 just to make sure Podlesh was OK.

Podlesh set a franchise record with a 40.4-yard net average last season, his first with the Bears after four with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He has not punted as well this season, but the Bears have not felt the impact as much because of excellent coverage units. The Bear are third in the NFL in punt coverage, allowing 4.6 yards per return.

Matt Forte says Bears runs were often "obvious"

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Bears running back Matt Forte, who averaged a dismal 2.4 yards per run Sunday, credited the Houston Texans defense for his forgettable night.

But he felt the Bears also made it easier on the Texans. Forte 2.jpg

"It's kind of like we ran the ball at the time when it was kind of like obvious we were going to run the ball," Forte said. "Plus, it was a sloppy game.

"I don't know. You got to give them credit; they got a good defense, too. We have to establish the run more."

The Bears finished the 13-6 loss with 115 rushing yards on 23 carries, a solid five-yard average. But quarterback Jay Cutler earned 37 of those on three runs.

Forte's 39 rushing yards is his lowest output in a game in which he played. The low (31 yards) came against the Green Bay Packers, when he injured his ankle.

Forte, though, isn't frustrated.

"It's only half way so I'm not too frustrated about that. I know I'm going to receive the ball when my time comes," he said.

Bears officially sign Josh McCown

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The Bears this morning announced the signing of quarterback Josh McCown, as the Sun-Times reported Monday.

McCown started the season finale against the Minnesota Vikings and led the Bears to a 17-13 victory.

To make room for him, the Bears released tight end Brody Eldridge.

Alshon Jeffery could return against 49ers on MNF

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Alshon Jeffery TD vs. Colts.jpgWith the possibility that Jay Cutler might not play against the San Francisco 49ers next Monday night, Bears coach Lovie Smith was particularly hopeful that rookie wide receiver Alshon Jeffery will play in that game after missing the previous four games with a broken hand.

''Hopefully [Cutler and defensive end Shea McClellin] will be ready to go,'' Smith said Monday. ''Hopefully other players will get back ... like Alshon Jeffery, who's making a lot of progress. I don't know for sure on him. But we can use all guys now.''

Smith acknowledged that the Bears' offense needs somebody to provide support for Brandon Marshall, who again was the dominant receiver for the Bears on Sunday night. Marshall had eight receptions for 107 yards against the Texans. Earl Bennett added one reception for nine yards. Devin Hester had two receptions for four yards. Tight end Matt Spaeth added three catches for four yards.

Jay Cutler concussion.jpgBears coach Love Smith said quarterback Jay Cutler is ''feeling a lot better today'' after suffering a concussion against the Houston Texans on Sunday night and is hopeful Cutler will play next Monday night against the San Francisco 49ers.

Defensive end Shea McClellin, who suffered a concussion with more ''immediate'' symptoms agianst the Texans, also is feeling better. But Smith could not speculate on his status for the 49ers game, either.

''Both those players are feeling a lot better today,'' Smith said. ''We'll continue to evaluate them, just like after a player gets a concussion -- or any injury -- we'll continue to evaluate them before we let them go back in.''

According to NFL protocol on concussions that was updated in 2009, ''the [affected] player should not be considered for return-to-football activities until he is fully asymptomatic, both at rest and after exertion, has a normal neurological examination, normal neuropsychological testing, and has been cleared to return by both his team physician(s) and the independent neurological consultant.''

While the league is reviewing Houston Texans linebacker Tim Dobbin's hit on Jay Cutler, they have already cleared the Bears in their handling of the quarterback's concussion.

"Our office reviewed it with the [Bears] medical staff and it was properly handled," said NFL spokesman Greg Aiello. "The team followed the correct protocol."

After any major injury, it's standard for the league to review how a team handled it. Cutler Texans.jpg

After Cutler was drilled by Dobbins -- who was flagged for a personal foul -- the officials reviewed the play, which happened late in the second quarter. Cutler didn't miss a play and finished the first half.

"We had a break since the play was being challenged. Our trainers talked to him then. When I say concussion protocol, that's a part of it. It's not like he showed symptoms but we had a break in between. Our trainers talked to him, evaluated him, he was fine from there," Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "Players in the huddle didn't see anything wrong with him, at the time. Not just then, we just continued to talk to him all the way out, even through to halftime.

"When I say normal protocol for a concussion that's what I'm talking about. We're constantly talking with him. If you look at his play, it's not like he was light on his feet or starry eyed, anything like that. We felt he was in control of everything, just like the rest of our players, at the time."

Cutler, though, was ruled out at halftime and replaced by Jason Campbell.

From the league: "Once removed for the duration of a practice or game, the player should not be considered for return-to-football activities until he is fully asymptomatic, both at rest and after exertion, has a normal neurological examination, normal neuropsychological testing, and has been cleared to return by both his team physician(s) and the independent neurological consultant.

"A critical element of managing concussions is candid reporting by players of their symptoms following an injury. Accordingly, players are to be encouraged to be candid with team medical staffs and fully disclose any signs or symptoms that may be associated with a concussion."

Bears expected to re-sign Josh McCown

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With starter Jay Cutler needing to pass the league's concussion protocol, the Bears are expected to re-sign veteran Josh McCown as insurance, according to a league source.

Cutler and Jason Campbell are the only two quarterbacks on the active roster; rookie Matthew Blanchard is on the team's practice squad.

McCown, 33, has bounced around the league. But he endeared himself to the Bears last season, when he was signed as a backup to Caleb Hanie. McCown got the start in the season finale against the Minnesota Vikings and completed 15 of 25 passes for 160 yards with one touchdown and one interception. The Bears won the game 17-13. McCown.jpg

On Sunday night, Bears coach Lovie Smith didn't rule Cutler, who didn't play in the second half, out for next Monday's game in San Francisco. Cutler, though, will not make his weekly Monday appearance on ESPN 1000, a reporter from ESPN Chicago wrote on his Twitter account.

But Cutler must be cleared by team doctors and an independent consultant before he can return to the practice field.

49er quarterback Alex Smith will have to do the same thing because he was knocked out of Sunday's game against the St. Louis Rams with a concussion.

Campbell, who is on a one-year deal, completed 11 of 19 passes for 94 yards.

Houston Texans Tim Dobbins is a native of Nashville who played his collegiate ball at Iowa State.

Frankly, I've barely heard of him, but he's a seventh-year veteran who made his 21st career start Sunday night.

But Dobbins is delusional, based on his comments after the game.

He, of course, drilled Jay Cutler in the second quarter, as the Bears quarterback neared/ crossed the line of scrimmage. Just as he released a pass to Devin Hester for a 42-yard gain, Dobbins drilled Cutler. Replay after replay showed Cutler's helmet crunching upward, and Dobbins leading with his own helmet. The officials even flagged him for a personal foul.

Dobbins believe he was wronged. Dobbins.jpg

"I just felt like he was going to take off running with the ball and I thought he was past the line," Dobbins said. "I did not hit him in his head.

"And actually, he did. He ran into me! How bout that?"

There's more.

"I thought it was a bad flag because I really didn't even hit him," he said, "nor did I lead with my head."

Dobbins also said he wasn't aware that Cutler left the game or that he had a concussion.

Is he worried about a fine from the NFL?

"I'm definitely worried about it but I feel like it was clean," Dobbins said. "I did not hit him in the head, nor did I lead with my helmet."

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Bears quarterback Jay Cutler suffered a concussion in the first half of Sunday's game against the Houston Texans and was ruled out for the second half of the Bears' 13-6 loss at Soldier Field.

Although the Naperville badly wanted to play, Houston Texans Pro Bowl tight end Owen Daniels is inactive for tonight's game with a hip injury.

Daniels leads the Texans with five receiving touchdowns. Owen Daniels.jpg

The Texans are also without nose tackle Shaun Cody, cornerback Roc Carmichael, safety Troy Nolan, backup running back Ben Tate, guard Cody White and guard Brandon Brooks.

For the Bears, the inactives are: receiver Alshon Jeffrey, receiver Dane Sanzenbacher, guard Edwin Williams, nose tackle Matt Toeaina, tight end Brody Eldridge, defensive tackle Amobi Okoye and defensive end Cheta Ozougwu.

Garrett Graham, who has 10 catches for 122 yards and one touchdown, will start at tight end.

This is a significant loss for the Texans because Daniels is a key cog in the offense. This season, he's got 37 catches for 478 yards and five touchdowns. More important than that, though, he's sort of a safety blanket for quarterback Matt Schaub. Now, the quarterback may look more often for running back Arian Foster.

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Lovie Smith may get his wish. The Bears coach said he hoped the weather made playing at Soldier Field Sunday night sloppy with a high-powered dome team in the Houston Texans coming to town.

According to the National Weather Service, bad weather is en route.

"We hope so," Smith said. "It's November, and I'm sure Houston is expecting to play in bad weather. I've been watching the forecast a little bit closer than I normally do, and I hear there's a lot of rain and wind supposed to come in.

"Just make sure that you guys [the media] report that, OK?"

The National Weather Service issued a wind advisory for Chicago from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. with gusts possibly reaching 45 mph. The strong winds precede a cold front that's moving into the Chicago area.

The National Weather Service also says there is a chance for thunderstorms across Northern Illinois and Northwest Indiana. Overnight rain showers are expected to turn into snow showers and sleet because of the cold front.

Bears coach Lovie Smith had some good news to share Friday about rookie receiver Alshon Jeffery, who is still recovering from a fractured right hand.

jeffery.jpgAlthough he was limited, Jeffery was able to participate in some drills in practice on Friday. He's doubtful for Sunday's game against the Houston Texans, but it's still encouraging to see after he's been held out of practice for weeks.

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Bears cornerback Charles Tillman made it clear with a tweet Thursday that he plans to play Sunday night against the Houston Texans with his wife expected to give birth to their fourth child on Monday.

But Houston was preparing for Tillman regardless of what he has going on away from the field. The Texans' offense is heading into the game with ball security as their No. 1 goal.

Cris Collinsworth and Phil Simms of Showtime's Inside the NFL show had a terrific interview with Bears quarterback Jay Cutler.

Simms told Cutler that he used to "bribe" his linemen and asked the Bears quarterback what he did for his unit.

"I've got them everything from suits to watches, first-class airline tickets. I take care of them," Cutler said. "The group I have right now, they're working hard. It's a good group. Each and every day, they're trying to get better."

But the Bears, once again, got off to a rough start against the Tennessee Titans, and Cutler expressed his displeasure to his offensive linemen.

"Last week, I think I was too nice to 'em. I told them halfway through the game, 'Guys, I can't be nice to you if we're going to play like this. I'm going to have being mean to you," he recalled. "And [Roberto] Garza was like, 'You know, just yell at us, we play better that way.'

"They're trying hard."

Click here for the interview.

Charles Tillman: "Don't worry. I'll be there Sunday."

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Bears Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Tillman is a Defensive Player of the Year candidate, leading the league with seven forced fumbles.

But as the Bears prepare for a key game against the 7-1 Houston Texans, Tillman finds himself -- against his will -- at the center of a debate. Tillman told The Score Tuesday night that he would miss Sunday's game at Soldier Field if his wife goes into labor with their fourth child.

He directly dodged those questions after practice Wednesday. But Tillman wrote on his Twitter account Thursday morning his priorities.

"God, family, football," Tillman said in a tweet. "Baby is coming Monday. Don't worry, I'll be there Sunday."

It's remarkable that there are those who would question a father wanting to be at the birth of his child. But it's even more remarkable that there would be any question about Tillman, who is fortunate to have three children with a fourth on the way. His daughter Tiana required a heart transplant, and her experience inspired him and his wife Jackie to start the Cornerstone Foundation. That foundation has been so successful, Tillman last year was a finalist for the prestigious Walter Payton Man of the Year award.

Here is a link to that story. Tillman Tiana.jpg

As for the Bears, I can assure you they have no issues with Tillman potentially missing this game. This is a family-run franchise, and coach Lovie Smith has repeatedly stated and reinforced that approach.

Last year, after Brian Urlacher's mother Lavoyda passed, Smith said his star linebacker would take whatever time he needed. Teammates flew down, as a sign of respect and support, to attend the funeral, and Urlacher didn't miss a game.

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The Houston Texans are prepping for "Peanut." But Bears cornerback Charles Tillman and his wife, Jackie, are prepping for the birth of their fourth child, which may come Sunday.

"The wife is due any day, so hopefully this baby can stay in until after the game on Sunday," he said during an interview Wednesday morning on WSCR-AM 670.

"I hope she stays in -- I'm having another girl. Monday, for sure, but if she comes Sunday, I think I'm going to have to be at the hospital Sunday. So, I hope she stays in until after Sunday."

Marshall: 'We're not going to look like the Patriots'

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Marshall-Cutler.jpgOn Monday, Bears coach Lovie Smith raised expectations that the Bears' offense might emerge from the shadow of his team's record-setting defense. But both Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall said we shouldn't expect too much too soon.

The Bears are third in the NFL in points per game (29.5) behind the Patriots (32.8) and Texans (29.6). But they're 13th in points scored by the offense (22.6). They're 25th in total yards.

The defense is second in points allowed (13.0) behind the 49ers (12.0). But they've also scored seven touchdowns that have produced 48 points for a net of 56 points allowed, 7.0 per game. That's unheard of in the NFL.

On his weekly radio show, Cutler challenged the defense to ''step it up.'' But he was obviously talking about small steps rather than the giant leaps Bears fans are dreaming of.

''We're not going to catch the defense this year. It's not going to happen,'' Cutler said resolutely Wednesday at Halas Hall. ''We're eight, nine years behind those guys. They've been in the same system a long time. We've just got to focus on ourselves. Every guy has just got to get a little bit better each week, everyday at practice. If we get a little bit better by the end of the season, we'll be better.''

Marshall also did not want to get too far ahead of himself.

''I think you guys have to understand [that] we're not going to look like the New England Patriots [or] the New Orleans Saints' offense,'' Marshall said. ''We're the Chicago Bears offense.

''We scored 37 points last week. We have great receivers. We have one of the best running backs. We have one of the best quarterbacks., one of the best closers in the game. We have passionate coaches. We are the Chicago Bears. And that's how we're going to win games. It's not going to look like New Orleans or Green Bay, New England Patriots, Denver Broncos. We're going to do it our way.''

Here are some facts about the Houston Texans' defense this season:

** They are the only team not to allow a rushing touchdown.

** They lead the NFL in opponent time of possession at 24:47.

** They lead the NFL in third-down efficiency (26.47 percent).

** They lead the NFL in defended passes with 58.

** They are fourth in the NFL in points allowed per game (17.1).

** They are second in the NFL in 3-and-outs forced: 29

** They are second in the NFL in rushing defense, allowing 82.4 yards per game.

In other words, it's the stiffest challenge Jay Cutler and Co. will face this season.

The accolades continue to come for members of the Bears' defense.

This time it's Brian Urlacher.

The veteran linebacker was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week after returning an interception 46 yards for a touchdown, forcing a fumble and recovering a fumble in the Bears' rout of the Titans on Sunday.

Bears cornerback Sherrick McManis also was named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week after blocking a punt against the Titans, which resulted in a touchdown for defensive end Corey Wootton.

Jay Cutler, Bears offense on the spot against Texans

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Jay Cutler vs. Titans (5).jpgJay Cutler challenged the offense -- himself included -- to ''pick up the pace'' in the second half of the season on Monday during his weekly radio show appearance on WMVP-AM. And his timing couldn't have been much better.

Much of the focus in the Bears-Texans game on Sunday night at Soldier Field is on the showdown between the Bears' takeaway-driven defense and a Houston Texans offense that has the fewest turnovers in the NFL. But the biggest challenge for the Bears will be Cutler and the offense staying clean against a Texans' defense that has been almost as dangerous as the Bears' defense.

The Texans are ranked third in the NFL in total defense, but as is the case with the Bears, those numbers only begin to tell the story. The Texans have three touchdowns on interception returns this season, not including Brice McCain's 86-yard interception return against the Jets that set up a field goal.

Danieal Manning (Bears).jpgThe Bears' decision to not splurge on safety Danieal Manning after the 2010 season didn't look so prudent last year.

Whether or not Manning, a good-but-not-great player for the Bears, was worth the big contract, the Bears missed his production and his stability in 2011 after Manning signed a four-year, $20 million contract with the Houston Texans.

Manning had started all 16 games at strong safety in 2010. But his replacement, Chris Harris, fell out of favor early in the season and Harris' replacement, Major Wright, couldn't stay healthy. The Bears had nine different safety combinations in 2011. They had one in 2010. (Manning and Harris).

But, as has been the case with just about every facet of the Bears on defense this season, it has all worked out. Wright has been healthy and productive at strong safety -- he had the first of the Bears' seven touchdowns on interception returns. And Chris Conte, who started nine games as a rookie, is making progress as the starting free safety.

Schedule will be tougher, but Bears could be too

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JJ Watt.jpgThe 7-1 Bears beat only one team that currently has a winning record in the first half -- the 5-3 Colts. Their eight first-half opponents have a combined 27-39 record (.409) overall -- 26-32 (.448) excluding their game against the Bears.

On paper, the second half should be more difficult, starting with the Texans (7-1) and defensive end J.J. Watt on Sunday night at Soldier Field and the 49ers (6-2) in San Francisco the following Sunday night. The Bears' eight second-half opponents currently have a combined record of 42-27 (.609).

''We don't look at that at all,'' coach Lovie Smith said. ''It doesn't matter [what the records are]. You look at each opponent as they come in. We played a Carolina team with a bad record [and won 23-22 on a last-second field goal].

''It's just about your play each week, trying to improve. Looking at one play at a time. I know we have the Texans next and I have an idea of some of the other teams we have coming up. But I think we have enough veterans in the [locker] room to stay focused. They know how we do things -- not looking too far [ahead].''

The Bears undoubtedly will be challenged by the Texans and 49ers in the next two weeks. But circumstances change quickly in the NFL. After those two games, four of their final six opponents are currently upstreaming.

The 5-4 Vikings, whom the Bears play on Nov. 25 at Soldier Field and Dec. 9 in Minneapolis, have lost two straight and three of their last four. The Seahawks (5-4) have lost two of their last three games. The Cardinals (4-5) have lost five straight.

The other two opponents are NFC North rivals Green Bay (6-3) and Detroit (4-4). The Packers have won four straight but have injuries that are piling up and will play the Bears at Soldier Field on Dec. 16. The Lions are the ultimate wild-card. They could be finishing like a freight train when they play the Bears in the regular-season finale on Dec. 30 at Ford Field. Or they could be out of the playoff picture and playing for next season.

Regardless of who the Bears have played or who they have to play in the second half, Smith likes where his team is coming off Sunday's 51-20 rout of the Titans that capped the 7-1 first half.

''At the halfway point of the season, to have that type of game -- just picture Soldier Field and we're going in at halftime feeling pretty good about what we've done, knowing we have to play better in the second half,'' he said. ''That's where we are.''

Jay Cutler vs. Titans (3).jpgThe Bears are flying high at 7-1, with the most dominant defense in the NFL. But with a second-half schedule that appears more difficult on paper, the offense remains a cause for concern because of slow starts and poor pass protection.

But coach Lovie Smith was confident the offense will carry its share of the load eventually.

''Right now we're talking an awful lot about our defense,'' Smith said at his Monday press conference at Halas Hall. ''But before this season is over -- hopefully this week -- it's going to shift, where we're going to be talking an awful lot about the weapons we have and the offensive plays that we're making.''

The Bears gained 358 yards in the 51-20 rout of the Tennessee Titans on Sunday at LP Field in Nashville. Jay Cutler threw three touchdown passes and had a 138.1 passer rating. Matt Forte rushed for 103 yards on 12 carries and added a 47-yard gain on a screen pass.

But most of the damage was done after the Bears had built a 21-2 lead in the first quarter. Until the Bears had the 19-point lead, Cutler was 1-for-4 for two yards. After that, he was 18-of-22 for 227 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions -- a 149.2 rating. And all of it was done against a defense that came in ranked 30th in the NFL in total defense.

Smith accentuated the positive -- at 7-1, that's his right. But even he knows the offense will have to improve in the second half.

''Matt Forte rushed for over 100 yards,'' Smith said. ''We had a great day running the football. Brandon Marshall had 3 touchdown [receptions]. Jay Cutler had over a 130 quarterback rating. A lot of good things we're doing offensively. We know there's a long ways to go still.''


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It's about time the Bears' offense gets things together and consistently produces.

That would just about sum up Bears quarterback Jay Cutler's thoughts on his team's offense, which he shared Monday during his weekly radio show on WMVP-AM 1000 with ESPN's Waddle & Silvy.

Cutler doesn't want himself or the offense to be at fault if the Bears fail to reach or win the Super Bowl this season. Although the offense was productive in the Bears' 51-20 demolishing of Tennessee Titans on Sunday, Cutler said they could and should be much better.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Boos from Bears fans during highlights of the Green Bay Packers' victory against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday were louder than anything fans of the Tennessee Titans could muster at LP Field.

The Bears dominated on the field in a 51-20 rout of the Titans, and their fans dominated in the stands, accounting for nearly half of the crowd at LP Field.

Urlacher pick vs. Titans.jpgAfter a sterling defensive performance that included a franchise-record seventh interception return for a touchdown this season, Bears defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli challenged his players to step it up.

''It doesn't matter how good it is. It's never good enough. That's the mentality,'' defensive end Israel Idonije said.

Even after dominating the Tennessee Titans in a 51-20 rout at LP Field in Nashville, the Bears know they'll have to reach yet another level in upcoming prime-time games against the Houston Texans and San Francisco 49ers.

Both teams will test the Bears' uncanny knack for creating turnovers. The Bears lead the NFL in fumbles forced with 21 (The Patriots are second with 18) and are tied with the Patriots for fumbles recovered with 11 (only seven teams have more than four). The Bears also lead the NFL in interceptions with 17 and turnover-differential with plus-16.

NBC's Sunday Night Football gets a treat next week, when the Bears host the Houston Texans.

Both teams are 7-1. Both teams talent at premium positions like quarterback, running back and receiver.

But one of the top story lines will be two defenders who appear to be Defensive Player of the Year candidates.

The Bears have cornerback Charles Tillman and the Texans have defensive end J.J. Watt, and they're both having special seasons.

Watt leads the NFL with 10 1/2 sacks, 10 passes defended, and he's recovered two fumbles. Watt.jpg

Tillman leads the NFL with seven forced fumbles, he's returned both of his interceptions for touchdowns, and he's defended six other passes. Tillman Flex.jpg

Naturally, Bears teammates are biased about who they like for Defensive Player of the Year.

"You know the answer to that question," Bears linebacker Lance Briggs said. "Peanut all day. I think we are all seeing history being made.

"I've never seen anybody who's been able to do the things he's able to do, and to do it so consistently."

Watt had a sack, two tackles for loss and five quarterback hurries in a 21-9 victory over the Buffalo Bills Sunday.

Tillman had a career-high four forced fumbles against the Tennessee Titans. He now has 36 for his career, passing Julius Peppers and Dwight Freeney of the Indianapolis Colts for second most since 2003. Robert Mathis of the Colts is first with 38.

"It's different because most of mine come from the blind side of the quarterback and getting strips that way," Peppers said. "He does it while the guy is looking at him and trying to run him over. He does it in a different way so I think it makes it a little more impressive on his part."

Exasperated Titans know what hit them: Charles Tillman

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Tillman vs. Titans.jpgTurnovers are supposed to be the ultimate X-factor in the NFL -- the reason why you can never bet on Michael Vick; it's the biggest reason why ''anything can happen'' and often does.

While some teams are better than others, there's a randomness that makes them so unpredictable from week to week. A defender theoretically can't sneak up on you forever -- after awhile you're on the look-out for him. If a team has a knack for stripping the ball, you just make a conscious effort to hold onto the ball ... and problem solved. That's supposed to be the fatal flaw of team's that live by the takeaway.

That's what the uncanny run of takeaways by Charles Tillman and the Bears so amazing. Opponents are well aware of what they're up against and they still can't do anything to stop Tillman from getting the ball out.

Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson had fumbled one time this season and lost two fumbles in the last two seasons coming into Sunday's game against the Bears. Yet even though he knew what was coming, he still couldn't avoid fumbling twice and losing possession both times in a 51-20 loss to the Bears at LP Field. Tillman forced four fumbles against the Titans. The Bears recovered three of them.

''The coaches tipped us good on how well they force turnovers,'' Johnson said. ''I think they're close to setting a record for turnovers and touchdowns on defense. It's just a situation where they made some good plays. They are very good at what they do about getting the ball out.''

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Brandon Marshall is on pace to for 118 catches for 1,594 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns.

Those would all be career-highs for Marshall and team records for the Bears.

But after his nine-catch, 122-yard game with three touchdowns, Marshall was thinking of his fellow receivers.

"You know what, that was special because I've never done that before and we've never done that before," Marshall said, referring to a three-touchdown game with quarterback Jay Cutler. "That was a first. The thing that we really want to get going are the other guys. It was tough today. Again, we started off really slow.

"Having three touchdowns is good. But I really want to get Earl Bennett going, Devin Hester going, and we're going to really work hard this week to get that going because those guys work hard, and they're open. Bt the way teams are playing us, they're leaving a lot of opportunity for me. And being a No. 1 receiver, it feels good taking advantage of opportunities like that, but I want to see those guys going a little bit."Marshall Titans.jpg

Bennett had key catches against the Carolina Panthers, and he was targeted eight times on Sunday at LP Field. But Bennett finished with just four catches for 22 yards. Hester had two catches for 19 yards.

And the longest pass play was a 45-yarder on a screen pass to running back Matt Forte.

Bears laud '4th Phase': 'Today was like a home game'

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Bears fans.jpgThe Bears hit a rare NFL trifecta in their 51-20 rout of the Tennessee Titans on Sunday at LP Field in Nashville: They not only scored on offense, defense and special teams, but did so in the first 9:01 of the first quarter.

Scoring on all three phases is the ultimate complete game in football. But it was even better than that for the Bears on Sunday. Even their '4th Phase' made a contribution as Bears fans took over LP Field pretty much from the start. Once the Bears took a 28-2 lead in the first quarter, the fans' dominance of the stadium was hard to ignore.

''How could you not notice?'' defensive tackle Henry Melton said. ''It was louder at the end of the game on our end than it was the whole game on their end. Even when our offense was on the field, they were trying to get some crowd noise. It was louder at the end of the game for us. I heard a couple of 'Peanut' chants. It was exciting to see and be a part of.''

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Bears set a new team-record by scoring 28 points in the first quarter of Sunday's game against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field. The previous high was 24 points against the San Francisco 49ers in 2006.

The Bears' offense, defense and special teams were all involved. Here's a recap of the scoring plays:

Matt Toeaina, Amobi Okoye head Bears inactives today

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NateCollins InAction.jpgThere are no big surprises on the Bears' list of inactive players for Sunday's game against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field. With Nate Collins earning a second consecutive active spot off his performance last week against the Carolina Panthers, both Matt Toeaina and Amobi Okoye are inactive.

Rookie wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, still recovering from a broken hand, is not active. The other inactive players are wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher, guard/center Edwin Williams, tight end Brody Eldridge and defensive end Cheta Ozougwu.

For the Titans, starting guard Leroy Harris is out with a knee injury. But starting right tackle David Stewart, who was listed as questionable on Friday with a knee injury, is active and expected to play. The Titans' other inactives are quarterback Jake Locker, linebacker Patrick Bailey, tackle Bryan Stingily, wide receiver Lavelle Hawkins, linebacker Will Witherspoon and defensive tackle DaJohn Harris.

Lance Briggs is probable for Sunday

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Bears linebacker Lance Briggs, who was limited in practice Thursday, fully participated on Friday and is listed as probable for Sunday's game against the Tennessee Titans.

The Bears are the model of health right now, with only rookie Alshon Jeffery (hand) ruled out for the game. Veterans Matt Spaeth and Jonathan Scott also fully participated in practice Friday after being limited earlier in the week. Briggs 2.jpg

The Titans, though, are another story.

Linebacker Patrick Bailey and starting right guard Leroy Harris have been ruled out for Sunday's game. Meanwhile, rookie quarterback Jake Locker is doubtful, and he won't play as veteran Matt Hasselbeck will get the start. Backup cornerback Tommie Campbell (ankle), starting right tackle Davis Stewart (knee) and linebacker Will Witherspoon (hamstring) are all questionable. All three were limited in practice Friday.

The players who are probable to play for the Titans are: receiver Kenny Britt (knee), safety Michael Griffin (hip), linebacker Colin Montgomery (ankle), starting left tackle Michael Roos (abdomen), starting center Fernando Velasco (concussion), starting receiver Nate Washington (knee) and starting defensive end Kamerion Wimbley (toe).

All of the players listed as probable for the Titans fully participated in practice Friday.

Bears free safety Chris Conte was fined $21,000 this week for his hit on Panthers receiver Brandon LaFell in Sunday's 23-22 victory. Conte was penalized for hitting a defenseless player in the head.

For Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher, this is as good as it's going to get.

1_charles-tillman.jpgAfter a month filled of highlights, Bears cornerback Charles Tillman was named the NFC defensive player of the month for October on Thursday.

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