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Urlacher in better game shape

Posted by Larry Mayer on September 28, 2012 – 4:43 pm

After playing three regular season games, Brian Urlacher is feeling more like Brian Urlacher.

The eight-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker has improved each week after missing the entire offseason program and all four preseason games with a knee injury.

“The more I play, the better I’ll get, the more in shape I’ll get,” Urlacher said Friday. “Preseason just ended for me. That’s the way I looked at it. I didn’t play the whole preseason. Now I feel like I’m finally in a little bit better game shape and running a little better.”

Urlacher is tied for the Bears’ lead with 21 tackles after recording a team-high eight tackles in last Sunday’s 23-6 win over the St. Louis Rams at Soldier Field.

“We know what kind of player he is right off the bat,” said defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli. “That’s a guy that can take a game over, just with his presence, being on the field, with checks, calls and leadership. But now you can just see him getting better and better each week. He’s just a special, special guy to this defense.”

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Forte continues to make progress

Posted by Larry Mayer on September 28, 2012 – 4:32 pm

Running back Matt Forte practiced on a limited basis for the third straight day Friday as the Bears continued to prepare for Monday night’s road game against the Dallas Cowboys.

Forte sat out last Sunday’s win over the St. Louis Rams after suffering a sprained ankle Sept. 13 in a Thursday night loss to the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.

“He’s getting better and better,” said coach Lovie Smith. “Nothing has changed. He’s making progress, but we’re not there yet to say that he’s for sure playing.”

Linebacker Brian Urlacher (coach’s decision) and fullback Evan Rodriguez (knee) did not practice; receiver Earl Bennett (hand) was limited; and long-snapper Patrick Mannelly worked out without restrictions after missing Thursday’s practice due to illness.

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), linebacker Anthony Spencer (shoulder) and fullback Lawrence Vickers (illness) did not practice; while linebacker Alex Albright (neck) and safety Gerald Sensabaugh (calf) were limited.

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Bears promote breast cancer awareness

Posted by Larry Mayer on September 28, 2012 – 2:22 pm

Fans can join the Bears in promoting breast cancer awareness this month by purchasing the 2012 edition of the “Real Bears Fans Wear Pink” t-shirt leading up to the Bears-Lions game Oct. 22. The Bears and the NFL will officially recognize National Breast Cancer Awareness Month at the game.

The shirts are available at www.event.org/pink with a minimum order of six. Individual shirts can be purchased at any NorthShore University HealthSystem hospital gift shop.

All proceeds will benefit Bears Care, the charitable beneficiary of the Chicago Bears. NorthShore University HealthSystem, the Official Healthcare Partner of the Chicago Bears, has partnered with Bears Care again this year to help promote the initiative.

With the success of the campaign over the last four years, Bears Care was able to distribute nearly $400,000 to organizations in the Chicagoland area that provide care, assistance and support services to breast cancer patients and their families.

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Moore aiming to catch Jennings

Posted by Larry Mayer on September 28, 2012 – 1:29 pm

With four interceptions in the first three games this season, cornerback Tim Jennings has already matched nickel back D.J. Moore’s team-leading total from last year. But Moore is not conceding his title.

“I’m going to try to [catch Jennings],” said Moore, who has yet to intercept a pass this season. “He’s jumping out right now. It happens in bunches. I’ll eventually I’ll catch him.”

Jennings not only leads the NFL with a career-high four interceptions, he also has created the Bears’ two other picks by deflecting passes that Chris Conte and Major Wright snared.

“I just think it’s confidence,” Moore said. “He’s been real patient. Once you start catching them and once you start feeling good about yourself, it just naturally happens.”

As the Bears prepare to visit the Cowboys Monday night, Moore is hoping to replicate the performance he delivered in his only previous game in Dallas. In a 27-20 victory in 2010, Moore recorded the first two interceptions of his career, both on tipped passes.

“Everybody else was tackling pretty hard and I was just a beneficiary of being in the right place at the right time,” said Moore, who has eight interceptions in 35 career games with the Bears.

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First downs first for Bears offense

Posted by Larry Mayer on September 28, 2012 – 12:18 pm

The Bears will place a huge emphasis on staying out of predictable passing situations Monday night when they battle the NFL’s top-ranked defense in Dallas.

“We have to be better on first downs, first and foremost,” said offensive coordinator Mike Tice. “We’re bad on first down, so we’re putting ourselves in second-and-long a lot and then you’re fighting to get back to manageable on third down.

“Our goal this week is to do a lot better job, be more efficient on first down; get that four yards running the ball and throwing the ball, shoot for six yards and get ourselves in a better manageable second down.”

The Bears rank last in the NFL with an average gain of just 3.32 yards on first-down plays, while the Cowboys defense leads the league in that category, yielding only 3.78 yards. Quarterback Jay Cutler was sacked on the first play in each of the Bears’ first two games this season.

“You are always looking to improve and we can’t improve everything in one week, so we’re going to look to focus at being better on first down,” Tice said. “That’s what I talked to the guys about and we’re going to do.”

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