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Cutler keeping the faith in Webb, line

Posted by Larry Mayer on September 21, 2012 – 2:12 pm

Although J’Marcus Webb has struggled at times, Jay Cutler still has faith in the Bears left tackle.

“Have to,” Cutler said. “For me to be successful in my job, I’ve got to have faith in him and I’ve got to believe each week he is going to do his part and it’s going to allow me to do mine.”

Cutler has enough of his own responsibilities in games to worry about the offensive line.

“You’ve got to play the game as if you have complete faith,” said the Bears quarterback. “You can’t be watching the line, you can’t be guessing ‘maybe they’ll block this play’ because you are not going to be very successful doing that. Each play you’ve got to believe in them, you’ve got to trust them and you’ve got to do your job.”

The Bears made one change on their starting offensive line this week, replacing Chris Spencer with Chilo Rachal at left guard. They could soon make another one if Webb doesn’t perform up to expectations.

“We have seven players who suit up every week and those seven players all get reps with the ones,” said offensive coordinator Mike Tice. “We’re going to try to make sure and make the proper decision of the five guys we’re going to put in there who can protect our quarterback and help us run the ball.”

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Bears determined to rebound again

Posted by Larry Mayer on September 21, 2012 – 1:29 pm

After getting thumped 23-10 by the Packers last Thursday night in Green Bay, the Bears hope to continue a positive trend Sunday when they host the St. Louis Rams at Soldier Field.

Since 2006, the Bears are 14-4 in games immediately following a double-digit defeat. That includes a 6-1 record when playing at home after a blowout loss on the road.

On two occasions, the Bears rebounded from a lopsided road loss to a division opponent by not allowing a touchdown in a home win over the Rams. In 2008, they lost at Green Bay 37-3 before defeating St. Louis 27-3. In 2009, they lost at Minnesota 36-10 before beating St. Louis 17-9.

“I just think we have the right attitude,” said middle linebacker Brian Urlacher. “Coach [Lovie] Smith makes us have the right attitude about it. For some reason we have played well after we have our backs up against the wall. We should play like that every week though.”

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Kozlowski named HS coach of week

Posted by Larry Mayer on September 21, 2012 – 12:22 pm

Former Bears wide receiver and special teams standout Glen Kozlowski has been named the Chicago Bears High School Coach of the Week.

After posting a 3-24 record in his first three seasons at North Chicago High School, Kozlowski has led the Warhawks to a 4-0 start this year. Last weekend North Chicago rallied from a 7-0 deficit to beat Antioch 35-7, allowing just 26 total yards in the second half.

Kozlowski, who played with the Bears from 1987-92, served as head varsity coach at Wauconda High School from 2002-08 before joining North Chicago.

Kozlowski and the other Coach of the Week winners will be recognized during an on-field ceremony Dec. 2 before the Bears-Seahawks game at Soldier Field. They also will attend a Bears practice and “chalk talk” session with coach Lovie Smith.

The Bears’ Coach of the Week program is in its 17th season. It honors outstanding Illinois high school coaches who develop players’ football skills and knowledge, character, leadership, discipline and teamwork abilities.

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Bush will be ready to start if needed

Posted by Larry Mayer on September 20, 2012 – 5:32 pm

With running back Matt Forte hampered by a sprained ankle he sustained last Thursday night against the Packers, Michael Bush will be ready to start if needed Sunday versus the Rams.

Bush signed a four-year contract with the Bears in March after appearing in 61 games with 19 starts in four seasons with the Oakland Raiders.

“Michael has started a lot in the league,” said coach Lovie Smith. “He’s been in this role before where the starter has gone down and the rest of the team, they just want to see another tailback in there that can do just as good a job. There aren’t many Matt Fortes out there. But our backup plan is pretty good, and Mike’s going to step in there and do a great job.”

With the Raiders last year, Bush stepped in after starter Darren McFadden suffered a season-ending injury and rushed for 977 yards and seven touchdowns.

“He’s not Matt, but he’s going to come in and give us a great running attack,” said quarterback Jay Cutler. “He’s really smart in pass protection and he catches the ball terrific out of the backfield. We’re not going to miss much by putting him in.”

Smith said that Forte is “getting better,” adding “I know ‘getting better’ doesn’t say an awful lot, but he’s making progress which we would like for him to do.”

Middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, who missed the entire offseason program and all four preseason games with a knee injury, was held out of practice Thursday after working out Wednesday.

“That may be the routine for a period of time,” Smith said. “He’s getting closer each week that he plays and we’re seeing improved play by him also, so we’ll keep that routine going for him.”

Defensive end Julius Peppers practiced without limitations Thursday after sitting out Wednesday with a sore foot.

Six Rams missed practice for the second straight day: Defensive tackles Michael Brockers (ankle) and Matt Conrath (knee), safety Matt Daniels (hamstring), tackle Rodger Saffold (knee), running back Steven Jackson (groin) and fullback Brit Miller (thigh). Tackle Wayne Hunter (ankle) was limited.

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Griffin accuses Rams of playing dirty

Posted by Larry Mayer on September 20, 2012 – 4:32 pm

A few days after losing to the Rams last Sunday, Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III accused the St. Louis defense of playing dirty and delivering cheap shots.

“There was some extracurricular stuff going on after the plays,” said Griffin, the second overall pick in the draft. “They were doing a lot of dirty things. I still think they have an extremely good team, that doesn’t take anything away from them, but the game was unprofessional.

“Who am I to talk? I’ve barely been a pro for very long, but from what I experienced against the Saints compared to that game, it was definitely unprofessional and it does need to be cleaned up.”

Griffin felt the Rams were targeting him throughout the game.

“I don’t want to tip-toe the lines of anything that’s happened with bounties or anything like that, but they were definitely going after me,” he said. “They made it a point, obviously, all week to hit me. Some of the shots were cheap of that nature. But it’s nothing I can control. Teams are going to try to hit me because they don’t think I can take a hit. I think I’ve proved over my career that I can.”

With the Bears preparing to host the Rams Sunday at Soldier Field, coach Lovie Smith was asked by a reporter after practice Thursday if he’s seen St. Louis bend the rules while watching tape.

“You want me to say a team is dirty before we play them, is that what you’re asking?” Smith said. “I see a team that plays hard. I know that they’re running to the ball defensively, playing hard offensively, and they’re playing until the whistle blows. That’s what we’ve seen, and we play the same way.”

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Sideline incident no big deal to Urlacher

Posted by Larry Mayer on September 20, 2012 – 3:15 pm

Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher said Thursday that he didn’t pay any attention to the media coverage of last week’s sideline incident between teammates Jay Cutler and J’Marcus Webb.

“Everyone was asking me about it, but I still haven’t seen what happened, and I really don’t care what happened,” Urlacher said. “Whatever happened, it’s over now. We’ve moved on. It doesn’t seem to be an issue. Someone told me there is a mutiny against Jay in our locker room. If there was, I didn’t know about it. I guess we’re supposed to be mad at him.

“Things happen on the sideline. That’s just the way it goes. People get mad. I have gotten in spats with coaches and players as well. It happens. It’s going to happen in the NFL. People get pissed off and sometimes we do things we shouldn’t. It happened.”

Urlacher said it was easy for the Bears to turn the page and move forward following the incident.

“It’s just like a fight in practice,” he told reporters. “It’s in practice. Who cares? You guys probably see us fight in training camp every year. So what? After the practice is over, you’re in the locker room and you’re buddies again. It’s not a big deal.

“You lose your emotions out there sometimes and you get mad, but when it’s over with, it’s over with. We spend a lot of time around each other, so we better get rid of it quick. It’s going to be a long season if we don’t.”

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Tice working to get offense back on track

Posted by Larry Mayer on September 19, 2012 – 6:04 pm

According to Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice, the two fastest increments of time in the history of the universe are “the time it takes a New York cab driver to beep his horn when the light turns green and the time it takes to go from the penthouse to the outhouse in the NFL.”

Tice experienced the first situation while growing up in Long Island and the second last Thursday night when the Bears followed an impressive win over the Colts with a deflating loss to the Packers.

“That wasn’t what we wanted to be last week,” Tice said after the offense mustered just 168 total yards and 11 first downs while committing four turnovers and yielding seven sacks.

“Fortunately or unfortunately, we’ve had a week to correct. The first thing I have to do is correct me, so I’ve worked diligently to see where I can be better to help our players to get better, and now we move on to St. Louis and see if we can get back on track.”

Asked to identify the most important area to improve, Tice said: “We need to block, block, block people. We can’t do anything unless we block people.

“You go into a game and you believe you have a good plan. You tweak the plan in the course of the game and you try to put players in position to succeed. Not always can a guy have help, so when those occasions arise, when a player doesn’t get the help, he’s got to win.

“We don’t expect our players to grade out 100 percent. I’ve coached some great linemen. I’ve coached a guy (Randall McDaniel) who’s in the Hall of Fame. He never graded 100 percent, so we don’t expect that. But we expect better results than we had.”

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Peppers, Forte held out of practice

Posted by Larry Mayer on September 19, 2012 – 4:16 pm

Defensive end Julius Peppers (foot) and running back Matt Forte (ankle) sat out practice Wednesday as the Bears continued preparing for Sunday’s home game against the St. Louis Rams.

Coach Lovie Smith said that Peppers “should be good to go” Thursday, while Forte is “making progress” after exiting last Thursday night’s loss in Green Bay with a sprained ankle.

If Forte can’t play Sunday, he’ll be replaced by Michael Bush. The veteran back filled in admirably for the Raiders last year after Darren McFadden sustained a season-ending injury, rushing for 977 yards and seven touchdowns and catching 37 passes for 418 yards and 1 TD.

“It helps for sure when he has been in that role out in Oakland with McFadden,” Smith said. “That’s why we have so much comfort in knowing that he’s been in there and what he can do.”

Bush signed a four-year contract with the Bears in March after spending his first four NFL seasons with the Raiders, where he increased his rushing yardage each year from 421 to 589 to 655 to 977.

“Mike’s a good player,” Smith said. “We said when we brought him in we were bringing in a starting tailback that we added to the mix. For us, it’s the next guy up. Hopefully Matt won’t be out long, but we feel comfortable with Mike while he’s gone.”

Seven Rams missed practice Wednesday: Defensive tackles Michael Brockers (ankle) and Matt Conrath (knee), safety Matt Daniels (hamstring), tackles Wayne Hunter (ankle) and Rodger Saffold (knee), running back Steven Jackson (groin) and fullback Brit Miller (thigh).

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Rachal eager to make most of first start

Posted by Larry Mayer on September 19, 2012 – 3:05 pm

Veteran offensive lineman Chilo Rachal will make his first start of the season Sunday when the Bears host the St. Louis Rams, replacing Chris Spencer at left guard.

“It’s a good opportunity,” said Rachal, who signed a one-year contract with the Bears in April. “My number got called, so I’ve got to go out and take care of business.”

Rachal spent his first four NFL seasons with the San Francisco 49ers from 2008-11, appearing in 55 games with 38 starts. It’s a little ironic that he was promoted to the No. 1 unit prior to Week 3 given that the 49ers demoted him from their starting lineup after Week 3 last season.

“It made me hungrier but also humbled me,” Rachal said of losing his job. “From me being a starter to having to take a seat, it just gave me a different perspective of the game and learning it in the classroom as a student. But I’m beyond hungry. I think hungry is an understatement.”

Despite being with the Bears for only five months, Rachal feels comfortable with the offense.

“There’s always room for improvement, but I have a pretty good understanding of the offense and where I need to be and why I need to be there,” said the USC product. “Now I’m just trying to get better at learning defenses better to be a better overall player.”

Even though he has supplanted Spencer, Rachal knows he needs to perform to maintain the job.

“I’m never comfortable,” Rachal said. “Things can always change. So my mentality going in is just executing, dominating and [I will] hopefully keep the spot.”

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Bears begin preparing for Rams

Posted by Larry Mayer on September 17, 2012 – 4:30 pm

Watching the Rams beat the Washington Redskins Sunday, it was clear to Bears coach Lovie Smith that St. Louis isn’t the same team that stumbled to a 2-14 record last season.

The Rams will arrive at Soldier Field this Sunday brimming with confidence after rallying to stun Robert Griffin III and the Redskins one week after nearly upsetting the Detroit Lions.

“The good part about not playing this past weekend is we had a chance to see a good football team play in the St. Louis Rams,” Smith said after practice Monday at Halas Hall. “There were some impressive wins over the weekend, but theirs was as impressive as any.”

Having lost to the Green Bay Packers 23-10 last Thursday night, the Bears returned to the practice field Monday. After an off day Tuesday, they will resume preparations for the Rams Wednesday.

“When you have a disappointing effort, you can’t wait to get back out on the football field, which we were able to do today,” Smith told reporters. “This game is huge for us.”

After Monday night’s game between the Denver Broncos and Atlanta Falcons, 20 of the NFL’s 32 teams will be 1-1. That includes all four teams in the NFC North.

“Once you start analyzing the landscape of the league right now, we have a few teams that are undefeated, but most of us are in that pack,” Smith said. “We can’t wait to play this week. We normally see a lot of improvement from Game 1 to 2. It’s got to be 2 to 3 this week for us because there are a lot of things that we all-starting with me-need to do a better job of and we will.”

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