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Garza happy to be heading home

Posted by Larry Mayer on September 27, 2012 – 5:49 pm

Bears center Roberto Garza will never forget the first time he met a professional athlete.

Garza had just graduated from Rio Hondo High School in southern Texas when he got a chance to chat with Cowboys star Tony Casillas. The two-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle had won two Super Bowl rings with Dallas, and at the time was one of the few Hispanic players in the NFL.

“I was a huge Cowboys fan,” said Garza, whose parents had emigrated to Rio Hondo from Mexico shortly before he was born. “Knowing who he was and with a [Hispanic] last name like Casillas, he was someone I looked up to, and getting a chance to meet him was awesome.

“I remember telling him I was going to [the University of Texas A&M at] Kingsville and my dream was to someday play in the NFL. He said, ‘Work hard and give everything you’ve got.'”

Now a 12-year NFL veteran, Garza is excited about returning home to face the Cowboys Monday night in Dallas.

“It’s great,” Garza said. “I have 75 people coming to the game. It’s always fun to play in your home state against a team you grew up rooting for.”

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Forte practices on a limited basis

Posted by Larry Mayer on September 27, 2012 – 4:14 pm

The Bears remain hopeful that Matt Forte will be able to play Monday night in Dallas after the running back practiced on a limited basis Thursday. Forte sat out last Sunday’s win over the Rams after spraining his ankle Sept. 13 in a loss in Green Bay.

“Matt Forte continues to get better,” said coach Lovie Smith. “He’s been able to do a little bit more each day. I can’t tell you a lot more than that as far as Matt is concerned except for he’s getting better and that’s been the case all along with him.”

Forte’s teammates hope that he will be able to face the Cowboys.

“It would be a big boost,” said quarterback Jay Cutler. “Anytime you lose a guy like Matt it hurts. I thought Michael Bush did a great job of filling in [with 55 yards and one touchdown on 18 carries against the Rams], but Matt gives that extra dimension when he’s in there.”

“Just stepping on the field he helps us out,” added receiver Brandon Marshall. “You have to pay attention to him whether it’s in the running game or the passing game. Matt’s running around pretty good. He feels good and he’ll definitely help us out a lot.”

In other injury news, long-snapper Patrick Mannelly missed practice Thursday because he was sick, defensive end Julius Peppers was held out due to a coach’s decision, and rookie tight end Evan Rodriguez was unable to work out because of a knee injury he sustained against the Rams.

For the Cowboys, defensive tackle Kenyon Coleman (knee), center Phil Costa (back), safety Matt Johnson (hamstring), punter Chris Jones (knee), nose tackle Jay Ratliff (ankle) and linebacker Anthony Spencer (shoulder) did not practice; while linebacker Alex Albright (neck) and safety Gerald Sensabaugh (calf) were limited.

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Players pleased officials will return

Posted by Larry Mayer on September 27, 2012 – 3:44 pm

Like the rest of the football world, Bears players are happy that the NFL’s regular officials will be back on the field this weekend after agreeing to a new labor deal with the league late Wednesday.

“Getting those guys back, I think it’s just going to clean up the game,” said quarterback Jay Cutler. “Games are going to move along. The indecision is going to go away, which I think is the biggest thing you’ve seen across the league is just the indecisiveness.”

“It’s good to have those guys out there,” added center Roberto Garza. “They know what’s going on. They are up to speed with the game and the way things are called and as quick as everything happens now. So they will have that taken care of.”

While receiver Brandon Marshall is pleased that the regular officials are returning, he sympathizes with the replacements and the slew of criticism they’ve taken.

“I’m just happy it’s over,” Marshall said. “We get some of those guys back that we’re familiar with and hopefully the game is a little cleaner.

“But when I look at it I have a lot of compassion for those [replacement] refs. When you take those guys and throw them in the fire so quickly, everyone’s dogging them and that’s tough, man. So I’m glad that it’s over, but at the same time those guys did the best that they can do and I appreciate that.”

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Ex-Bears among Hall of Fame nominees

Posted by Larry Mayer on September 27, 2012 – 2:10 pm

Former Bears tackle Jim Covert, center Jay Hilgenberg and defensive tackle Ted Washington are among 127 nominees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2013.

Covert and Hilgenberg were part of dominant offensive lines that helped the Bears win Super Bowl XX, capture five straight NFC Central Division championships from 1984-88 and lead the NFL in rushing for four consecutive seasons from 1983-86.

Washington played 18 NFL seasons with the 49ers (1991-93), Broncos (1994), Bills (1995-2000), Bears (2001-02), Patriots (2003), Raiders (2004-05) and Browns (2006-07). In the first of his two years in Chicago, he helped the Bears win the NFC Central title and was voted to the Pro Bowl.

The Hall of Fame Selection Committee will reduce the number of candidates from 127 to 25 semifinalists in late November. A list of 15 modern-era finalists will then be announced in January.

The Class of 2013 will then be selected from the list of 15 modern-era finalists plus the two senior nominees (former Chiefs and Oilers nose tackle Curley Culp and former Packers and Redskins linebacker Dave Robinson) who were chosen last month by the Senior Selection Committee.

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