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Bears focusing on next game; not 3-0 start

Posted by Larry Mayer on September 26, 2013 – 5:15 pm

The Bears are 3-0 for just the third time in the last 22 seasons. But as they prepare for Sunday’s NFC North showdown in Detroit, they’re not wasting any time admiring themselves in a mirror.

“It’s just three wins,” said linebacker Lance Briggs. “Three wins isn’t going to get you into the playoffs, so for us we need to keep etching away. This is a divisional opponent and when you play somebody in your division, you can continue to separate yourself from everybody else.”

Coach Marc Trestman certainly won’t let anyone at Halas Hall rest on their laurels. Asked what he tells his players to ensure that they don’t get too satisfied with their quick start, he said: “We’re not 3-0; we’re 0-0 and this is Game 1 of 13. That’s really the reality of it all.

“We’ve got to focus on getting better each day, and on Sunday we play Game 1 of the season. That’s how it is. There’s no light at the end of the tunnel here. There are no guarantees at the end of the tunnel, that 3-0 is getting us anywhere.

“It’s giving us a chance. That’s what it’s doing. Just like hard work each week doesn’t guarantee us we’re going to win, but it gives us a chance, and that’s all we’re trying to do on Sunday. That’s really the reality of it. That’s how we’re approaching it.”

The message has clearly been received by Bears players.

“We’re not even thinking about being 3-0,” said center Roberto Garza. “We’re thinking about trying to win this football game. Coach Trestman talked about it—what happens in the past is in the past. We’ve got to worry about this week.”


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Trestman pleased with intensity level

Posted by Larry Mayer on August 12, 2013 – 6:44 pm

The Bears ratcheted up the intensity level in practice Monday, much to the delight of coach Marc Trestman.

“If you love football, you had to love this practice,” Trestman said. “This was a vicious practice, a highly-competitive practice. The offensive and defensive lines created the intensity today. I thought it was outstanding. I thought it was probably one of our best practices, maybe in the top three, during camp.”

The defense continued to make big plays. Cornerback Charles Tillman intercepted a Jay Cutler pass that squirted through the hands of running back Michael Bush, linebacker Lance Briggs made a juggling interception and nickel back Isaiah Frey caused an incompletion by ripping a pass away from receiver Brandon Marshall.

The offense clearly remains a work in progress, but Trestman is not discouraged.

“We’re still in training camp,” he said. “We’re still installing our offense. When you’re in these situations it’s good to understand that we’re stressing our offense as much as they could ever be stressed with what they’re seeing defensively, the fronts we’re seeing, the blitzes we’re seeing.

“I really don’t spend much attention on the failure at the moment. I’m paying a lot more attention to what happens after the failure because we can control a lot of that through game plan and proper play selection. We’re more calling plays than we are trying to beat the defense because we need to get things practiced.

“Obviously it’s a great defense to play against because we’re not going to play against much better throughout the season. So as we move forward here onto the last three [preseason] games and into the season I think we can clean a lot of those things up. I know we can, and I’m optimistic.”


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Offense rebounds from sluggish start

Posted by Larry Mayer on August 11, 2013 – 8:02 pm

When he was picked off by Zack Bowman Sunday, it marked the third time in 12 training camp practices that Jay Cutler has thrown an interception on the first play of team drills.

“I think what we’re going to do tomorrow is we’ll start with the ‘twos’ and run the ball three times,” joked coach Marc Trestman. “Then we can get on with the regular part of practice.”

Cutler also threw an interception on the Bears’ first play from scrimmage in Friday night’s preseason opener before rebounding to complete 6 of 7 passes for 56 yards. He also bounced back Sunday, throwing touchdown passes to Martellus Bennett on back-to-back plays in a red-zone drill.

“I don’t think it’s a concern,” Trestman said about the interceptions on the first play. “It is kind of odd. I don’t know that any of us have ever experienced that.

“It’s not a bad thing to fight back from failing on the first play of the game. We had that happen the other night and Jay showed he kept his poise. He had great demeanor throughout the game, through the time he was in there and he didn’t let it affect him. That’s a good sign; that’s something positive.

“We’re trying to draw positives out of it and that would be the positive that again today I thought the guys came back and made it a highly competitive practice.”

After a day off Saturday, the entire offense looked sluggish at the start of Sunday’s practice, which was attended by 15,000 fans, an all-time record for Bourbonnais by more than 3,000 people.

“It was a slow start offensively,” Trestman said. “We’re learning how to recover from adversity, no doubt about it, because I think practice picked up after the individual period. I thought offensively it was sluggish and then it got really competitive and there was an ebb and flow to practice.

“We worked hard running the ball against our cover-two and did well with that. We had a long third-and-long period. I think you saw a lot of really good awkward catches by our receiving corps.”


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Tipped passes don’t concern coach

Posted by Larry Mayer on August 6, 2013 – 5:12 pm

Jay Cutler had a handful of passes deflected at the line of scrimmage during 11-on-11 drills in Tuesday’s practice, but coach Marc Trestman wasn’t very concerned.

“The tipped balls, I don’t get too caught up in it right now because the pass rushers stop because they don’t want to get in the way and their hands go up or they jump up in the air for the ball,” Trestman said. “We try to discourage jumping up in the air for the ball so we can complete plays and let everybody go to the ball and finish. But we allow the guys to keep their hands up.

“The downside of that from an offensive side is when they stop their rush, which they normally don’t do, we lose the pass lane. Certainly we’re disappointed that we didn’t get the plays off. We hope it doesn’t carry over to the season. It usually doesn’t because those lanes are created.”

Defensive tackle Henry Melton deflected two passes that resulted in interceptions. He picked off one himself, while the other was hauled in by nickel back Isaiah Frey, ending a two-minute drill. Defensive end Shea McClellin also leaped high to intercept a Cutler pass at the line of scrimmage.

“Batted balls are a lot of things, but in practice we’re not going to try to, up front, knock the defensive linemen down when they bat a ball,” said offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer. “One of our rules is really don’t bat a ball in practice. Guys get excited and they can’t help but put their hands up and swat them. You live with it and you go on to the next play.”


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Trestman eager for preseason opener

Posted by Larry Mayer on August 5, 2013 – 6:15 pm

First-year Bears coach Marc Trestman can’t wait until Friday night’s preseason opener against the Carolina Panthers, but he isn’t the only one in training camp who is eager for the game.

“I think everybody is in terms of getting the chance to compete against somebody else besides ourselves,” Trestman said Monday. “And we’ll get a chance to take a look at certainly some of the young guys and some of the new guys and get involved in the competitive process at another level.

“They’ll get a chance to play under the lights against a different team, in a different environment, and that will all be part of the evaluation.”

Mel Tucker is excited to see how the defense performs in its first game situation.

“Based upon what we see out here on the practice field, we feel like they’ll be ready,” said the Bears’ first-year defensive coordinator. “They’ll be ready to compete and play.

“They know what’s expected. We want to play winning football when we’re out there, whoever’s out there. So we’re looking forward to it. That’s at the end of the week. We’ve got a couple more practices we’ve got to finish up. We’re taking it one day at a time. That’s very, very important.”

Bears defenders no doubt have grown weary of hitting their teammates and will finally have their first chance to take ballcarriers to the ground.

“They’re always champing at the bit,” Tucker said. “They’ve done a nice job. They understand the tempo of the practices and what we’re trying to get done. We’re trying to be cooperative and get work in on both sides of the ball, and then we’ll have an opportunity to maybe pick it up a little bit more in a game situation.”


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Trestman pleased with execution

Posted by Larry Mayer on July 26, 2013 – 4:33 pm

Jay Cutler threw interceptions on the first and last plays in team drills but otherwise performed well during the Bears’ first training camp practice Friday in Bourbonnais.

Safety Chris Conte picked off a deflected Cutler pass on the first snap, but the quarterback rebounded to connect with receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, tight end Martellus Bennett and running back Matt Forte, among others.

“Chris Conte made a heck of a play in the back end and got the defense off to a fast start,” said coach Marc Trestman. “In between, I thought the offense picked it up. There was a lot of good execution out there. We spread the ball around to our guys. We intended to do that today. We got off to a good start. I thought Jay was extremely sharp throughout the middle portions of practice.”

Asked if he saw any difference in Cutler’s footwork, Trestman said: “I thought he was really on rhythm today. It’s a process throughout training camp we continue to work on. He got the ball out of his hand on time. You can’t configure the pass rush [in a non-contact practice], so it’s not quite the same as it’s going to be on Sunday [when players wear pads]. But he’s doing everything he has to do. Until you look at the tape, you don’t know. But I thought he had a very good day.”

Trestman was not pleased with false starts by offensive linemen Jermon Bushrod, James Brown and Jordan Mills. After each infraction, the coach skipped ahead to the next play.

“The penalty is not on the player; the penalty is on the team,” Trestman said. “Everybody loses a rep and they feel that. Nobody wants to lose a rep out in practice, so there’s an accountability factor within that. So if you see a guy jump offsides, we generally just move on to the next play because that’s what’s going to happen in a game.”


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Bears to hold conditioning test Thursday

Posted by Larry Mayer on July 25, 2013 – 10:21 am

The Bears don’t hold their first training camp practice until Friday morning, but that doesn’t mean that will be the first time that players break a sweat in Bourbonnais.

Every individual on the 90-man roster will participate in a conditioning test Thursday that consists of running three 300-yard shuttles within certain times based on position. Players will run from the goal line to the 50-yard line and back three times, and then take a short break between intervals.

“I don’t even look at it as a test,” said first-year coach Marc Trestman. “I look at it as an accountability exercise. The times are very minimal. We’re not trying to run anybody off or wear anybody down. It’s a minimalized test where everybody can see everybody out there for the day and see everybody running and see what kind of condition they’re in.”

Trestman doesn’t expect any players to flunk the test and won’t levy a heavy fine if someone does.

“Based on what I saw in the spring, there isn’t anybody who should have trouble finishing it,” Trestman said. “And if he doesn’t, that’s just a signal that his coach needs to give him a little more conditioning work to get up with the rest of the guys.

“There’s not going to be major sanctions here to anybody. It’s just an opportunity to see where the guys are … we’re giving the players a chance to see each other and the kind of commitment that they’ve made over the summertime.”


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