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Bush, Allen get more practice reps

Posted by Larry Mayer on August 6, 2013 – 7:23 pm

With starting running back Matt Forte given a veteran’s day off Tuesday, backups Michael Bush and Armando Allen received more opportunities in practice.

“I thought they got some good work, a good change of speed with a downhill runner like Michael and being able to catch the ball outside, and then Armando at the point of attack and outside as well,” said coach Marc Trestman. “I thought our run period was really strong today.”

Trestman was pleased with the effort and physical play on both sides of the ball.

“We kept our pads down today,” Trestman said. “Some of the mistakes we made [Monday], we corrected last night and we carried it over today and cleaned it up. I thought that was good.

“I thought our effort to the ball was very good, particularly in our defensive perimeter in the back end. You’re seeing Tim Jennings run all the way across the field to cover a run. You’re seeing Charles [Tillman] do the same thing. These guys have a plan. There’s no doubt about it. The guys who have been around here defensively have a plan.”

Defensive end Shea McClellin delivered the play of the day, leaping high at the line of scrimmage to intercept a Jay Cutler pass and then returning it for a touchdown.

Left tackle Jermon Bushrod participated in the entire practice after being limited Monday by a calf injury that sidelined him for a week. Tackle Jonathan Scott (knee) did not practice Tuesday after taking part in individual drills Monday.

Other Bears who remained sidelined included middle linebacker D.J. Williams (calf), nickel back Kelvin Hayden (hamstring) and receiver Earl Bennett, who continues to be evaluated for a concussion. Defensive end Julius Peppers was excused from practice.


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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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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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Forte ruled out of Sunday’s game

Posted by Larry Mayer on September 21, 2012 – 2:45 pm

The Bears on Friday announced that running back Matt Forte will miss Sunday’s home game against the Rams with a sprained ankle he sustained in last Thursday night’s loss to the Packers.

“Matt Forte is making a lot of progress, but he won’t be ready to go this week,” said coach Lovie Smith. “Everybody else is ready to go and practiced today.”

Forte will be replaced in the starting lineup by veteran Michael Bush, who has rushed for 96 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries in two games this season.

With the Raiders last year, Bush stepped in after Darren McFadden suffered a season-ending injury and rushed for 977 yards and seven touchdowns and caught 37 passes for 418 yards and 1 TD.

“No doubt we feel comfortable with Michael Bush,” Smith said. “Michael’s excited about playing too. When you’re the backup running back, you want to get reps and I can’t think of a running back that’s ever had too many carries. So he’s excited about it, as is Armando Allen and Kahlil Bell. All those guys are ready to go.”

Rams running back Steven Jackson will be a game-time decision. Jackson did not practice Friday for the third straight day and was listed as questionable on the injury report, meaning there’s a 50/50 chance he’ll play.

Also for St. Louis, left tackle Rodger Saffold (knee), defensive tackle Matt Conrath (knee) and safety Matt Daniels (hamstring) are out; defensive tackle Michael Brockers (ankle) is doubtful; and backup left tackle Wayne Hunter (ankle) and fullback Brit Miller (thigh) are questionable.


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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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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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Forte not hurt as bad as reports indicate

Posted by Larry Mayer on September 17, 2012 – 4:04 pm

Bears coach Lovie Smith downplayed various media reports about the severity of the injury that running back Matt Forte suffered in the third quarter of Thursday night’s loss to the Packers.

“Matt Forte does not have a high ankle sprain,” Smith said. “He has an ankle sprain. As far as when he’ll be back, I don’t know. I was hoping he would look about the way he did today.”

Asked about the possibility of Forte playing against the Rams, Smith said: “We’re not ruling him out of anything just yet, but he has a long ways to go. I don’t want you to start thinking he’ll be out there practicing  tomorrow. He’s not, but we’re making progress.”


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Forte shows explosiveness in practice

Posted by Larry Mayer on August 13, 2012 – 11:21 pm

Matt Forte is considered one of the NFL’s most talented and versatile running backs because of plays like the one he made during Monday night’s practice at Ward Field.

Splitting out wide left, Forte raced down the sideline past linebacker Lance Briggs and hauled in a long pass from quarterback Jay Cutler.

“He’s been great, like he’s always been since Day 1 he stepped in the building,” coach Lovie Smith said of Forte. “He’s the ultimate pro. He can do everything you want him to do.

“Tonight you saw him line up out wide, score a long touchdown pass. He can run routes like a receiver can and make you miss in the open field. We have a lot of things in store for him this year.”

Last year Forte became the first player in NFL history to compile at least 900 yards rushing and 400 yards receiving in each of his first four seasons.

After sitting out last Thursday’s preseason opener against the Broncos, Forte is expected to play Saturday night when the Bears host the Redskins at Soldier Field.

“Matt Forte will play this week,” Smith said. “We need to get [backup running back] Michael Bush some quality reps and we need to get our offensive line going. In order for us to do the things that we want to do offensively, we’ve got to get the running game going and hopefully we can.”


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Bears offense finishes with a flurry

Posted by Larry Mayer on August 6, 2012 – 8:29 pm

Jay Cutler and the rest of the Bears’ No. 1 offense ended Monday’s practice with a flourish, engineering an impressive two-minute drill that resulted in a touchdown.

Starting at his own 35-yard line with no timeouts, Cutler completed passes to Earl Bennett, Devin Hester, Matt Forte and Brandon Marshall before spiking the ball to kill the clock at the 9. After an eight-yard pass to Kyle Adams, Cutler snapped the ball and plowed into the end zone behind his offensive line for a TD.

“We’ve been trying to finish practice in that last period a little bit better,” said offensive coordinator Mike Tice. “I felt like in the first two weeks we only had one practice where we finished the last period good. It felt like the two-minute drill today, we finished practice better than we have.”

The well-executed two-minute drill came after Cutler had thrown three interceptions in a lengthy red-zone drill. He was picked off by linebackers Lance Briggs and Nick Roach and nickel back D.J. Moore.

Asked later about the Bears defense, Cutler said: “They’re good. They’re very sound. They’re well coached. They’re in the right spot all the time and they make plays on the ball. For the three years that I’ve gone against them, there’s no let-up in this crew. It makes us better and I think some of the things that we’re doing offensively challenges them a little bit as well.”

The No. 2 offense also scored a touchdown in its two-minute drill as quarterback Jason Campbell connected on passes to Armando Allen, Joe Anderson, Brittan Golden and Chris Summers.

After Craig Steltz broke up a pass intended for Evan Rodriguez near the goal line, Campbell completed a 12-yard pass to Anderson on fourth-and-five from the 17. Three plays later Campbell rifled a 5-yard touchdown pass over the middle to Allen.


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Forte shows burst in first practice

Posted by Larry Mayer on July 26, 2012 – 8:23 pm

In the Bears’ first training camp practice Thursday, Matt Forte didn’t look like someone who had suffered a season-ending knee injury last year or skipped the offseason program during a contract impasse.

The Pro Bowl running back resembled the same player who led the NFL in yards from scrimmage last December when he got hurt in a loss to the Chiefs. On one running play Thursday, Forte displayed his patented explosiveness and quickness, bolting through a hole and racing to the end zone.

“The one he hit today was pretty clean, and he took it a long, long way,” said offensive coordinator Mike Tice. “It shows you what we can do. When you have a back that can take it to the house from anywhere on the field, it certainly changes what the defense can do to you.”

Forte was happy to be back on the practice field with his teammates.

“It felt like normal,” he said. “I missed OTAs and all that stuff, but it felt good to get back out there and be able to do football. You can only work out so much. It felt good to be back out there with everybody.”

During special teams drills Thursday, Forte spent time with quarterback Jay Cutler and quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates working on pass-protection responsibilities in Tice’s offense.

“I’m just getting it under my belt,” Forte said. “It’s coming to me very naturally. The running game is basically the same as what we did last year. I just have to get the protections down … and know who I’ve got to get and how to get them. It’s been fun. It was a fun practice today. Hopefully the rest of camp is like that too.”


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