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Bears intend to keep tabs on Watt

Posted by Larry Mayer on November 7, 2012 – 4:45 pm

Forget about finding Waldo. The Bears will be playing “where’s J.J. Watt” Sunday night when they host the Houston Texans. The second-year defensive end leads the NFL with 10.5 sacks and has broken up 10 passes, three of which have resulted in interceptions by teammates.

Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips likes to move Watt around in the Texans’ 3-4 scheme.

“We have to be aware of where he’s at,” said quarterback Jay Cutler. “He lines up in a lot of different positions. Wade does a great job of moving him around and using his athletic ability to their advantage. We just have to be aware of him up front. We’ve gone against some pass rushers this year and I think we’ve done a better than average job, so hopefully we can continue with it.”

Coach Lovie Smith describes Watt as a very talented player with a non-stop motor.

“He plays hard every down,” Smith said. “It’s one thing to play hard. You don’t have to have a lot of talent to play hard. He plays hard with elite talent. So we’ll have to know where he is at all times, which we will, and it’ll be a big challenge for us.”

Bears right tackle Gabe Carimi practiced against the 6-6, 295-pounder every day at Wisconsin, while Mike Tice is also familiar with Watt because the offensive coordinator’s son, Nate, played with him and Carimi on the Badgers.

“He’s one of the top players if not the top player we’ve played against this year,” Tice said. “He’s very long. He’s very tall. He uses his arms well. He uses his leverage extremely well. He poses a challenge and he lines up in different places. He’s going to take turns going up and down the line trying to make plays on us.

“We have to be up to the challenge and hopefully we put in the right protection schemes that are going to take into account that, but at the same time we don’t always know in base or 34, they are a 34 team, where he will line up all the time.”

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Bears preach family-first environment

Posted by Larry Mayer on November 7, 2012 – 4:08 pm

If Charles Tillman chooses to attend the birth of his fourth child instead of playing in Sunday night’s game against the Texans, that would be just fine with coach Lovie Smith.

“It’s family first,” Smith said. “If there’s something you feel like you need to do for your family, always do that. How we look at it is like an injury. If a player can’t go, it’s next guy up and we’ll keep going.”

Tillman first mentioned the possibility of missing the game during a radio interview Tuesday night on WSCR-AM 670. He declined to discuss the situation in detail Wednesday, saying only that he would play in the game if his wife Jackie gave birth Sunday morning.

In 2008, their three-month-old daughter Tiana was diagnosed with dilated cardiomypathy and needed a heart transplant to survive. She eventually received one and remains healthy.

“At the end of the day, [family] is all you have,” Tillman said. “This game is important to me. But after what we went through with my middle child, Tiana, to me football is second. It’ll always be second or third in my life. That was a great lesson learned. When I’m done playing football, my family will always be there for me.”

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Texans will provide litmus test for Bears

Posted by Larry Mayer on November 7, 2012 – 3:23 pm

The Bears will face one of their toughest tests of the season Sunday night when they host the Houston Texans in a battle of first-place teams with identical 7-1 records.

“The last couple weeks we’ve played good teams, but we haven’t played a 7-1 team for sure,” said coach Lovie Smith. “Watching the video of them or just looking at the statistics, they’re at the top of the charts on both sides of the football.”

The Bears (+116) and Texans (+100) rank 1-2 in the NFL in point differential. The Bears are 4-0 at home; the Texans are 3-0 on the road. The Bears lead the league with 28 takeaways; the Texans have committed a league-low six giveaways.

“There will be a lot of stars on the football field this week,” Smith said. “We are glad that we’re playing at home. We know how big this game is. We can’t wait to see how we match up against one of the best.”

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Jeffery remains sidelined with hand injury

Posted by Larry Mayer on November 7, 2012 – 2:03 pm

Alshon Jeffery continues to improve in his recovery from a hand injury that has forced him to miss the last three games. But the rookie receiver remained sidelined Wednesday when the Bears returned to the practice field to prepare for Sunday night’s home game against the Houston Texans.

Defensive end Israel Idonije (ankle) and defensive tackles Henry Melton (back) and Matt Toeaina (calf) were limited. But coach Lovie Smith said “none of them are really serious. Hopefully we’ll have everybody out on the football field [Thursday].”

For the Texans, nose tackle Shaun Cody (ribs), tight end Owen Daniels (back), running back Ben Tate (hamstring) and receiver Kevin Walter (groin) did not practice; and cornerback Johnathan Joseph (quadricep), running back Arian Foster (coach’s decision), cornerback Brice McCain (knee) and defensive end Antonio Smith (ankle) were limited.

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