Chicago Bears: Doug Padilla

Jon Bostic to play under Briggs' wing

October, 17, 2013
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- When leading somebody down a dark tunnel, trust is the key, and so it will be Sunday when veteran linebacker Lance Briggs stands alongside rookie linebacker Jon Bostic, who will be seeing his first significant NFL action.

With linebacker D.J. Williams lost for the season because of a torn pectoral muscle, Bostic will finally get his chance to shine after a solid preseason. Briggs remembers when he was in Bostic’s shoes.

“Jon is further along than I was as a rookie and he understands things,” Briggs said. “He understands all our concepts. For him, it’s just about getting game experience. There are things that he is still learning to trust. It’s just like me when I was young and Brian [Urlacher] would give me a tip off. I might be a step late because I didn’t really trust what he was saying.”

[+] EnlargeJonathan Bostic
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesWith D.J. Williams lost for the season, rookie Jon Bostic has been thrust into the lineup.
Anything Briggs says Sunday will likely be followed with the words “trust me.”

“For him he just has to know that hey, if it’s going to be there, if it’s a tip off, they’re probably going to run it,” Briggs said.

Bostic has played primarily on special teams this season, but the second-round pick out of Florida has been taking notes when it comes to the defense and often asks Briggs why things sometimes look different on the field than they did in practice.

“I’ll tell him that depending on the down and distance there are certain checks and adjustments you want to do differently than first and second down or against certain formations,” Briggs said. “For him it’s just allowing himself to be as sharp as he can be on Sunday.”

Coach Marc Trestman is less concerned about the transition from the veteran Williams to the rookie Bostic, primarily because of Briggs’ presence.

“I do know enough to watch (Briggs) work every day, his ability to communicate, his understanding of the defense and the standards that he has and wants to get to with our defense,” Trestman said. “I think that Jonathan is in very good hands.”

Bostic’s speed could come in extremely handy as the Bears go up against Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III and running back Alfred Morris.

“For Jon, you don’t want to think too much when you’re on the field,” Briggs said. “That’s what practice is for, getting that kind of stuff down, getting your keys down and your reaction to be as sharp as it can so that once you get in the game you read and react. You allow your athletic ability take over.”

Briggs’ ability to communicate figures to be put to the test as he guides a young teammate.

“There are always certain tip-offs before a play, but once game time comes, you have to get 11 of us aligned, making some of those adjustments, throwing out some of the tips and keys to him,” Briggs said. “I know [veteran linebacker] James [Anderson] will help too. Major [Wright] and [Chris] Conte, Peanut [Tillman] and Tim Jennings, we have a good group back there that does understand how teams will attack us.”

Bears have full practice participation

October, 17, 2013
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears had full participation in practice Thursday as they prepare for Sunday’s Week 7 game at Washington.

Cornerback Charles Tillman, tight end Martellus Bennett and defensive end Julius Peppers, who were held out of activities Wednesday, all participated in the practice inside the Walter Payton Center on a rainy afternoon.

Tillman has rarely practiced over the past month because of a knee injury and did not play in last Thursday’s victory over the New York Giants. He had played in 55 consecutive games before sitting out.

“(Tillman) is doing everything he can on and off the field to try and get himself ready and get himself right,” coach Marc Trestman said. “He probably played one of his best games the last game that he did play, but I think if he would have had the full week he would have recovered fully enough to play (last week). He’s not getting any worse, he’s only getting better.”

Bennett is also working his way through a knee injury, but has not missed a game this season. Peppers was held out of Wednesday’s practice because of a coach’s decision. Trestman elaborated on his reasoning.

“We knew we would have four practices this week so I thought it would be good to just have him work three of them,” Trestman said. “As we move through the season, not just him but some of our other older players, just give him an opportunity to take some breaks along the way. It’s not something that goes on exclusively here, it goes on throughout the league.”

Officially, the only person that missed practice Thursday was linebacker D.J. Williams, but he is out for the season because of a torn pectoral muscle. He has not yet been put on the injured reserve list.

Briggs, Tillman among game-time decisions

October, 9, 2013
LAKE FOREST, Ill. – The Chicago Bears are looking at a number of game-time decisions when it comes to player availability for Thursday night’s matchup against the New York Giants.

While sounding positive, coach Marc Trestman said that tight end Martellus Bennett (knee), linebacker Lance Briggs (foot/hip), defensive tackle Stephen Paea (toe) and cornerback Charles Tillman (knee) all will have their status decided a few hours before kickoff Thursday.

“All would have been limited today, but we’re optimistic in the next 24 hours they will be ready to go,” Trestman said.

With a short week for preparation, the Bears have been doing walk-throughs all week instead of regular practices. Listed as “out” on Wednesday were defensive tackle Nate Collins (knee) and safety Anthony Walters (hamstring).

The “probables” after Wednesday’s practice were wide receiver Joe Anderson (knee), tackles Eben Britton (foot) and Jermon Bushrod (calf), and wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (ankle).

“We’ll know more tomorrow,” Trestman said. “We’re optimistic they will all be there but we don’t know for sure.”

Rookie defensive tackle Zach Minter said he had some practice time with the first-team defense Wednesday and was expecting to play Thursday. Minter was on the active roster for the first time for Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Saints, but did not see any action.

Peppers quiet in more ways than one

October, 9, 2013
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The play this season of Chicago Bears defensive end Julius Peppers has been similar to his interview sessions: Lacking in substance.

Peppers has struggled in his 13th NFL season, with his slow start highlighted by the fact that the defensive line has been hit hard by injuries. He has failed to record any defensive statistics in two of his starts this year, the most recent coming last week against the New Orleans Saints.

For anybody looking for some insight as to what has happened or how things can get better, Peppers has preferred to keep it to himself.

[+] EnlargeJulius Peppers
AP Photo/Greg TrottJulius Peppers is off to a slow start with just one sack through five games.
The eight-time Pro Bowler was asked Wednesday if the line might have to change its approach in the wake of its struggles that are evident in the group’s eight total sacks and their opponents’ 69.0 completion percentage, both third worst in the league.

“We’re going to stick with the game plan,” Peppers said.

How about the opportunity Thursday night to go against a struggling New York Giants offensive line and an anemic running game?

“We’re going to go into the game and execute the game plan and we’ll see how it goes,” he said after a long pause.

Can blitzes and new schemes help cover for past struggles?

“We’re going to see about the game plan,” Peppers said, making it perfectly clear that he’ll talk, he just won’t say much. “I don’t know. If you want to know about the game plan specifically you have to ask [defensive coordinator] Mel [Tucker] about that. As far as blitzing and all that, we’re just going to play what’s called and we’re going to get the job done.”

With the Giants’ big-play tendencies behind quarterback Eli Manning, more blitzes could be on the agenda.

“We just have to eliminate the big play,” Tucker said. “These guys take more shots down the field than almost anybody in the NFL. They are in the tops in the league in air yards and shots down the field so that’s big. But [Manning] is a fierce competitor. There isn’t a whole lot that you can throw at him that he hasn’t seen.”

With the Giants struggling, the Bears are making sure they don’t get lulled to sleep. Manning’s career success is being mentioned prominently this week and the consensus is that the Giants won’t lose every game so make sure this isn’t the first one they win.

The defensive line could be in prime position for a breakout game, but Peppers won’t take anything for granted.

“We’re not concerned about having a breakout game necessarily for ourselves, we want to do it for the team because if we do it will more than likely improve our chances of winning,” he said.

If there is one thing the Bears’ defense does well, it’s taking the ball away and creating turnovers, so it is being stressed against a Giants team that struggles in that department. The Bears’ 12 forced fumbles lead the NFL. The Giants lead the league with 20 turnovers.

“We have to be opportunistic on defense,” Tucker said. “Our job is to get stops and take the ball away, score ourselves or set up the offense.”

If there was anything Peppers was willing to be specific about, it was the turnover game.

“Every game, well most of them, come down to turnovers and the turnover battle,” Peppers said. “We’ve been pretty good at it. We didn’t do as well last week so we have to try to win the turnover battle this week.”

Bears don't question Marshall's motivation

October, 8, 2013
Jay Cutler and Brandon MarshallAP Photo/Nam Y. HuhJay Cutler calls Brandon Marshall an "ultra-competitor" who yearns to have an impact in every game.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall will admit to a selfish nature, but only when it comes to wanting what is best for teammate and fellow wide receiver Alshon Jeffery.

After being targeted on 40 percent of pass plays last season, and then getting the double and even triple teams that went along with that kind of attention, Marshall has always felt that a productive Jeffery would make life, not to mention catches and yards, a whole lot easier.

Perhaps Marshall is staring in the face of a productive game against the winless New York Giants on Thursday night, especially after Jeffery went off for 10 catches, 218 yards and a touchdown Sunday in a 26-18 loss to the New Orleans Saints.

“In a selfish way -- if you want to talk about selfish and 'I' -- that’s the reason I wanted him down in Florida last year (working out) with me,” Marshall said. “Last year, you look at some of the things teams were able to do with us, and you look at the statistics where 40 percent of our passing game came through me. Alshon was banged up and Earl (Bennett) was banged up with a hand a little bit. We really didn’t have a stable guy on the other side or the tight end position to really help.”

With Martellus Bennett already making his mark from the tight-end position and Jeffery seemingly in sync, Marshall figures to do better than the season lows of four catches and 30 yards that he delivered Sunday. Marshall expressed his frustration over his lack of production after Sunday’s game.

The disappointment has caused something of a chicken-or-the egg conundrum for Marshall. Some view his desire for more production as self-serving. Others, like quarterback Jay Cutler, don’t so much see a me-first approach, but rather a confident player who knows he can help a team to win.

“I think everyone is frustrated when you lose two games in a row like that,” the quarterback said on ESPN-1000’s weekly “Jay Cutler Show.”

“That being said, I've known him for a long time and know what kind of ultra-competitor that he is, and when you lose a game, any competitor will think, 'Hey, what if I'd done more and what if I had more touches? Could I have impacted the game more than I already did?' I just think he's kind of feeling that.”

Marshall knows the negative perception that is out there, but on Tuesday he continued to reiterate that his attitude has the team’s best interest in mind.

“You pay a receiver $10 million for them to be OK with him not being productive? Get out of here,” Marshall said. “When I’m a coach, or if I’m an owner of a team one day and I’m paying a receiver that much money and he’s happy, if he’s not complaining, or not communicating with me about wanting more (production), he got to go.”


Delany I don't think there is any wide receiver – well, there might be a few guys out there who really don't care – who would be happy playing in the NFL without catching balls. I want to catch footballs. I want to score touchdowns.

" -- Bears WR Brandon Marshall
But wanting to be productive is one thing. Sometimes it’s counterproductive to try and get a star receiver his catches when situations like double teams say it’s best to throw the ball elsewhere. Marshall still seems to have a tough time balancing the desire to produce with the logic of why things might not always go his way.

“There was one play when I was at the 3-yard line running down the middle if the field and three in the red zone and guys were on me,” Marshall said. “I was like, 'This is pretty cool.' That’s respect. At the same time, the NFL, and this is where the truth thing comes in, it’s a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately business. It’s about production. I’m not saying it’s about me, it’s about our offense.”

Perhaps a triple team shouldn’t be about respect. It should be about loving the fact that somebody like Jeffery or Earl Bennett or Martellus Bennett could be working their way to an open spot on the field.

“Yeah, that’s obvious, but there is so much more that comes into it, like schemes or different things we can do,” Marshall said. “Of course that makes sense. You can’t throw the ball into double coverage. It makes sense.”

Perhaps if there is confusion as to what truly motivates Marshall, he might only have himself, and his mixed messages to blame.

“It’s not a greedy instinct,” Marshall said. “The quarterback touches the ball every single play, he controls the game. The offensive linemen don’t care about anything outside of their box. The running backs, they’ll have like 20 opportunities. Wide receivers, it’s on everybody, the coaching, the offensive line, the guy on the other side, the running game. It’s one of those things where you only get a few opportunities, so guys want to be productive and make plays.

“It can come off as selfish, but there are so many other variables that go into a wide receiver being successful. I don’t think there is any wide receiver -- well, there might be a few guys out there who really don’t care -- who would be happy playing in the NFL without catching balls. I want to catch footballs. I want to score touchdowns.”

When Marshall complained about not being targeted early in the season, coach Marc Trestman called him a “palms-up guy” for coming off the field and using body language as if to say, “Why am I not getting the ball?” Trestman, though, said Tuesday that Marshall’s heart is in the right spot.

“He’s been as important to leading this team as anybody,” Trestman said. “He’s been doing it all winter. He brought players in here. Alshon Jeffery, he is playing the way he’s playing because he spent time this offseason with Brandon learning how to treat his body, get himself in shape, how to eat properly. He helped recruit D.J. (Williams), he helped recruit Martellus. I’ve seen nothing but a guy, who when he has been on the field, has worked and has been locked in to try and help this football team. That’s what I’ve seen.”

Bears give Ndamukong Suh silent treatment

September, 26, 2013
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears are making sure that their preparation for the Detroit Lions on Sunday does not include engaging Ndamukong Suh in a war of words.

The Lions’ defensive tackle definitely has the Bears’ attention heading into the first of two division matchups this season. It’s just that nobody feels the need to stoke his ire this far in advance of game time.

“I like him,” Bears tight in Martellus Bennett said Thursday. “I met him a couple of times in person and he’s a nice guy. He’s interesting. I don’t think about him often. I’ll think about him this week when I have to play against him.”

Bears quarterback Jay Cutler has the biggest beef with Suh after a few eye-opening confrontations in recent years, but even he was keeping the talk to a minimum.

“I never talked to the guy besides a few choice words on the field,” said Cutler, who was shoved by Suh in the upper back during a 2010 game, had his helmet ripped off by Suh in a 2011 game and was slammed to the turf by him last season causing a rib injury. “Other than that, I don’t know him. I don’t talk to him.”

Taking things even further when it came to being noncontroversial, was Bears rookie offensive lineman Kyle Long, who has simply decided to say nothing for the rest of the week. Long, who declined interview requests Thursday, has the task of blocking Suh on Sunday in just his fourth NFL game and second ever on the road.

Suh, on the other hand, told reporters in Detroit on Wednesday that he is looking forward to the matchup against the player many perceived was drafted by the Bears specifically with the Lions’ defensive tackle in mind.

“We’ll see how well he is prepared to block me when we play on Sunday,” Suh said. “That’s their opinion, that’s their choice, that’s their draft. That’s not anything of my concern. I just look forward to digest whoever I have in front me.”

Long did have at least a little to say on the subject earlier this week when he appeared on ESPN 1000’s weekly “Football Night in Chicago” show on Monday. And just like his teammates, the comments were more complimentary than confrontational.

“Suh is just relentless,” Long said at the time. “He is a relentless football player. He is somebody that is just going to always keep coming and give you his best. He's got that kind of presence where you're like, ‘I can't take a play off.' If you do, he will expose you.”

Besides the Cutler hits, there are plenty of others over the years that have earned Suh his “dirty player” tag. The most recent came earlier this season when he was fined $100,000 for a low block during a Week 1 game against the Minnesota Vikings.

Bennett, who is known to give his opinion on a myriad of subjects, gave pause when he was asked if Suh was a dirty player.

“Hopefully he takes baths,” Bennett said. “I don’t think he’s dirty as a player. You can say anybody is a dirty player if somebody does something you don’t like one time in a game. I don’t think he’s dirty. I think he plays hard and plays with a lot of passion.”

Asked his opinion, Bears offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer was only slightly less quiet about Suh than Long.

“Suh is a very physical, athletic, talented defensive tackle,” Kromer said.

Collins hopes to leverage his opportunity

September, 25, 2013
LAKE FOREST, Ill. – While Henry Melton might be lost for the season with a knee injury and understandably demoralized, he still has figured out a way to offer the Chicago Bears a little bit more.

Melton reached out to the guy who will absorb much of his playing time moving forward, and Nate Collins was appreciative of the gesture.

“Me and Henry are really tight,” Collins said after practice Wednesday. “He said, you know this is something that happens to guys, and you just have to be ready and take advantage of it. I wish Henry the best. I know Henry’s going through a lot right now. Hopefully it will be a fast, healthy recovery.”

[+] EnlargeNate Collins
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesThe injury to Henry Melton has opened up a spot on the Bears' defensive line for Nate Collins.
While Collins is itching for his chance, he knows it’s inevitable that his play on the line will be compared to Melton’s. The 6-foot-2, 296-pounder, who has spent much of his four seasons in the NFL at nose tackle, hopes he can be appreciated for his own unique skill set.

“I feel like I’m aggressive,” said Collins, who ran extra wind sprints after practice because he doesn't want conditioning to be a reason he might struggle. “I feel like I might be a little undersized, but in some situations playing inside that phone booth at nose tackle, it’s an advantage if I keep my pads down and use my leverage to my advantage.”

Stephen Paea still is expected to remain at nose tackle for the Bears this week, but alongside Collins at defensive tackle, the Bears could present something of a double-nose-tackle look at Detroit on Sunday.

“I feel like we’re both guys that can penetrate and push the pocket and we’re both small guys in there,” Collins said of lining up alongside Paea. “We try to use our leverage to our advantage, and when we go against bigger guys we have to stick with our technique and let our technique work everything out.”

First and foremost for Collins will be recognizing his gap and staying in it. He doesn’t have to come out and be the hero.

“The coach says every day, the star of the defense is the defense,” Collins said. “If we stay in our gap, then we’ll have an opportunity to make plays, and when the plays come your way you have to make them. That’s what I think I’ve been doing. There’s always room for improvement. Out here it’s not really about me, I’m just trying to get better.”

If anybody knows what Collins is capable of doing it’s defensive coordinator Mel Tucker. They were together with Jacksonville as recently as 2011.

“He’s a high-effort guy, a high-energy guy,” Tucker said. “He’s stout with a relentless mentality. He plays with a good pad level. He has a chip on his shoulder and I really like him.”

Now that Collins becomes a starter on defense, the question becomes how the Bears organize their rotation on the defensive line. Julius Peppers or Corey Wootton could move inside at times from their defensive-end positions, ramping up the playing time for defensive end Shea McClellin. Or the Bears could test their depth even further by calling on defensive tackle Zach Minter.

The 6-1, 297-pound Minter is an undrafted free agent out of Montana State who has not been active for any of the first three games of the season.

“The biggest adjustment is learning the margin for error,” Minter said. “There is little room to slip up. You always want to be on your game. Just the pace of the game, too. It’s why I lean on these guys, to learn from them and learn from the coaches and trust in the defense and trust in the older guys.”

Minter said he isn’t worried about the speed of the NFL game if and when he gets his first opportunity. He said the Bears go at full speed during much of practice. But now that he is on the cusp of some playing time, he has taken a minute to look at the big picture.

“I think you have to,” he said. “This is the National Football League. Not everybody gets a chance to play here, so when you do you kind of take a step back and figure out where you’re at while figuring out what you have to do to get better.”

While playing time will be a big opportunity for Minter, Collins is trying to downplay things. He was asked if this is the moment he’s been waiting for.

“I mean, you know, I guess you could say that,” Collins said. “But at the same time, just being on the team and having an opportunity to play on defense and being out there, that’s the opportunity. I’ve been on the field, and this is really no different for me. I just have to go out there and make the plays I need to make, and continue to just play well like I’ve been doing.”

Tillman (groin) held out of practice

September, 25, 2013
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman was held out of practice Wednesday as he deals with a groin issue that cropped up late in Sunday night's victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

In addition, cornerback Sherrick McManis was also held out of practice with a quadriceps injury.

Bears coach Marc Trestman categorized both players as "day to day" after practice Wednesday.

The 32-year-old Tillman has already dealt with a number of issues during the first three weeks of the season. During the first two weeks he was playing with a knee injury, while also missing time during the Sept. 8 season opener because of dehydration.

Trestman deduced that the groin issue was probably the result of overcompensating for the knee problem.

Tillman did not play late in Sunday's game as a precaution, and the injury is not deemed to be serious and he could play Sunday at Detroit.

"We moved some people around today," Trestman said about his defense. "C.J. [Wilson] got some work today, obviously. And Zach [Minter] will continue to work over there [on the defensive line] as well."

Cutler: Trestman better than I thought

September, 23, 2013
CHICAGO -- After going through training camp with a new coach and opening the season with a 3-0 record, Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler said Monday that everything about Marc Trestman has exceeded his expectations.

[+] EnlargeJay Cutler and Marc Trestman
AP Photo/Charles Rex ArbogastMarc Trestman has impressed Jay Cutler beyond his work with the offense.
“He’s better than I thought he was, to tell you the truth,” Cutler said Monday during ESPN 1000's weekly “The Jay Cutler Show.” “You knew he knew he was a smart guy. You knew he knew offense. You didn’t know how well he was going to be in front of the team and being able to juggle the defense and the special teams and getting everybody to buy in, and do things early in training camp that are relative right now. It’s just little things. I would say he’s better (than I thought).”

After a circuitous coaching route over the past 32 years that took him from the college ranks to eight different NFL teams, before heading back to college and then on to Canada to coach in the CFL, Trestman could not have gotten off to a better start in his first NFL head coaching job.

After playing for head coach Lovie Smith the previous five seasons, not to mention a revolving door of offensive coordinators that included Ron Turner, Mike Martz and Mike Tice, Cutler is learning yet another new system that he has embraced thus far.

“It feels right,” Cutler said. “It’s always different with somebody else, but it definitely feels right. I think Trest has a good feel for the team right now, the direction we’re going. I think he’s calling plays really well, with the state of where the offense is. He’s not throwing us out to the wolves.”

In other words, despite a deep playbook, Trestman is not requiring too much of the offense thus far and hasn’t put too much on his quarterback too soon. Cutler has already said that he still will be learning the offense in Week 15 of the 16-game season.

“He’s giving us opportunities to make plays, and he’s protecting us when he thinks he should protect us, even though we might not have the right perspective to see what he’s doing,” Cutler said. “It’s a tough job, it really is, especially in this market, in this city, inheriting a 10-win team.”

And if anybody had any lingering doubts over Trestman’s dedication, they only had to look at his work day Monday, shortly after the 40-23 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night.

“The guy lives and breathes it,” Cutler said. “Last night, me and [backup quarterback] Josh [McCown] were talking to him. We said, 'Go get some sleep, and we’ll come in at 10 or 11 [a.m.] to watch some film and come talk to you.' I went in there at like 10, 10:30, 11 to talk to him. I asked what time he got up. He said six. He had some coffee and came in. The guy just lives it. The whole staff does. The whole staff does a great job.”

If Trestman has shown his dedication, members of the coaching staff have taken it even further.

“We have coaches that are spending the night last night when we got back [from Pittsburgh] to get up in the morning and get going,” Cutler said. “We have a great group of guys. It’s always comforting to know that your coaches are spending those amount of hours to make sure that you have the right plays, offensively, defensively and special teams-wise. It’s not a bad thing to have by any means.”

Cutler's run also a big hit with Bears

September, 23, 2013
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Jay Cutler lowered the boom Sunday night at Pittsburgh, and the hit was still echoing around Halas Hall on Monday.

A day after the Chicago Bears put together a convincing 40-23 victory over the Steelers, Cutler's fourth-quarter shoulder ram into Steelers safety Robert Golden was being mentioned prominently.

[+] EnlargeCutler
AP Photo/Don WrightJay Cutler braces for impact before leveling Steelers safety Robert Golden in the fourth quarter on Sunday.
The moment came with 9:15 remaining in Sunday's game. On a third-and-10 play, Cutler scanned the field from the pocket before taking off on foot. He already had enough yardage for the first down, but still lowered his shoulder to send Golden backward.

"He's our leader; everybody looks to him," said wide receiver Earl Bennett, who benefited the most from Cutler's run when he finished the drive with a 17-yard touchdown catch. "He's just going out and playing hard. As you can see from that play when he needed a couple of more inches, he lowered his shoulder pad and got a couple more yards. He's one of those guys that is going to do whatever is needed for this team to win."

As coach Marc Trestman broke down all phases of Sunday's victory, Cutler's run was mentioned as prominently as all the touchdowns scored and turnovers created by the defense.

"I thought Jay played very unselfishly," Trestman said at the start of his critique of the quarterback position. "You want to come out, you want to throw the ball down the field, you want to do some things, and I think that in retrospect, as much as we wanted to do some of those things and we tried, we kept him safe and allowed him to live for another play. And certainly his effort in the fourth quarter on that run was exceptional."

Trestman seemed to reveal, though, that while it isn't ideal for his quarterback to deliver a shoulder-first hit, especially with the shoulder that is connected to his throwing arm, he is OK with his quarterback being physical if the situation warrants.

"We've always talked about it," Trestman said. "You look at the tape and he had probably crossed the first down by about a couple of yards. He wasn't sure. I think he would have probably slid if he was sure, but in talking to him, he wasn't sure and that's why he decided to let himself go and do what he did."

It didn't seem to be a coincidence that after Cutler's play, the Bears scored two more touchdowns in just over five minutes on the clock.

"It was an exceptional run and another part of Jay that we're seeing," Trestman said. "It was a very important play in a very important time of the game."

Bennett said the Cutler run fired up the team.

"Yeah, but I kind of winced a little bit too," Bennett said. "'Hey man, slide!' But he's a hard player, and I know that each and every week he will give his all."

Trestman's focus is on game, not big stage

September, 20, 2013
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- All week long Chicago Bears players have pointed toward their game on Sunday night, and the national television audience that goes along with it, as one reason for inspiration.

More important, obviously, is the chance to go 3-0 and being prepared for a winless Pittsburgh Steelers team, whose defense still gets respect around the NFL despite its struggles. As for letting the country see what the Bears are all about, though, new coach Marc Trestman could not care less.

"That's the last thing [being considered]," Trestman said after practice Friday. "Honestly, my focus has been consistent, and I truly believe in it. It's just to create the environment daily for our guys to succeed, and I'm not going there."

Trestman continues to show that he doesn't have an ego about anything he is doing in his first NFL head-coaching job. Away in the Canadian Football League for the previous five seasons, nobody would have blamed Trestman if he considered this a statement game to show he's back.

"I know the questions are going to be asked, but I am giving you a straight answer that there is no consideration of any of that going in," he said. "It's just to do whatever we can to be at our best and have our team be at our best."

If there is anything he is considering, outside of things that will help the Bears win Sunday, it is the chance to take his team into a storied NFL town.

"It is Pittsburgh, one of the traditional teams, very similar to the team we're fortunate enough to be with here," Trestman said. "When people come into this city, or go to Pittsburgh, they know great games have been played there with great players and there is great tradition. I think that is all part of it."

Ultimately, though, Trestman has respect for every NFL city and every NFL venue.

"Every place you have the opportunity to coach in the National Football League is a special place because it is something not everybody gets to do," he said. "So I don't know that any one place is more special than the next. I think they're all terribly special."

Long ready to talk smack with Bradshaw

September, 20, 2013
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears rookie lineman Kyle Long is ready to take some jabs at family friend Terry Bradshaw this week.

With the Bears headed to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers on Sunday night, Long figures it's a good time to reach out to Bradshaw, the Hall of Fame Pittsburgh quarterback who is a longtime FOX Network studio host with Kyle's father, Howie Long.

"Maybe I'll shoot Terry a text, send him a warning and let him know how it's going to go off," Kyle Long said laughing Friday. "Talk some smack."

Perhaps one of the more fitting locations for Kyle Long's first NFL road game is Pittsburgh, where Bradshaw forged a Hall of Fame career.

Asked about his first memory of the Steelers when he was growing up, Kyle Long mentioned the "Immaculate Reception," a moment of NFL lore that happened nearly two decades before he was born. The Steelers were playing the Oakland Raiders that day, the franchise his father would join almost a decade later.

Howie Long might not have been playing that day, but Bradshaw was at quarterback and it was his pass that was deflected into the hands of Franco Harris, who plucked the ball off the top of the artificial turf and took it to the end zone for an improbable touchdown.

"I used to watch NFL Films and stuff," Kyle Long said. "Franco Harris, Terry Bradshaw and those guys. Obviously the defense with Jack Lambert and all those guys. They were just a bunch of beasts."

Kyle Long knows, though, that come Sunday night, the lighthearted texts and memories of old grainy television replays will be replaced with a business-like approach.

"Lining up inside this week it will be a different kind of test," Long said. "There will be a girthy group of guys across the ball from us. A lot of savvy vets. They know the ins and outs of their defense. Also, there's Dick LeBeau, a tremendous defensive coordinator and somebody who has been in the league for a long time, so I'm sure we're going to see some tricky stuff."

As for a hated team growing up, and one team name that was not allowed to be said in the Long house, it wasn't the Steelers, despite some big games between Oakland and Pittsburgh.

"You'd be surprised at the amount of respect that my dad has for all the teams they played against," Kyle Long said. "Now the Chiefs on the other hand, they don't get along. I guess Chiefs and Raiders don't mix.

"Obviously the Steelers are another franchise, like the Bears, that have been around for so long and have such a great history and such a winning tradition and a team that prides itself on toughness and physicality, so I'm excited for that."

Trestman, Bennett have 'father-son' time

September, 20, 2013
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The old quarterback showed off his arm after practice Thursday as Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman played catch with tight end Martellus Bennett.

Actually, it isn’t uncommon for Trestman, the former signal caller at the University of Minnesota and Minnesota State-Moorhead, to pick up the ball on occasion and fling it around, even at the age of 57.

“We play catch every day after practice and talk a little bit; a little father-son time,” Bennett said. “It’s always good to get to talk to him while we play catch. He’ll ask me what I thought about practice or different things like that, and I will tell him different things I do to get better and how I think I can help the team in the game plan this week, the plays I like. It’s just like our quiet time with one another at the end of the day.”

Quiet time and Bennett don’t always go hand in hand, although the 26-year old begged to differ, saying he only turns on the charm once the television cameras start rolling.

Told about Bennett’s father-son comment, Trestman bowed his head and laughed.

“It’s not the first time I’ve played catch with another player on the team,” Trestman said. “And I’ve met Martellus’ father. I appreciate the kind words, but he’s a father who is a heck of a man as the father of two great kids. I’ve spent time with them and he doesn’t need me to spend time as a father (figure), but I appreciate the compliment.”

As it turns out, the games of catch started out as more of necessity than an attempt to have a bonding moment.

“Early on, we didn’t have a Juggs machine and I said ‘I’ll be your Juggs machine after practice,’” Trestman said of the device that uses two spinning wheels to thrust footballs forward. “‘I’ll make sure you get the 23 to 30 balls you need to finish your day.’ I’ve done that with other guys and I enjoy doing that. You get to go outside and play catch with the football. Who doesn’t want to do that?”

So how is Trestman’s arm after all these years?

“It’s pretty good,” Bennett said.

Bears bracing for Steelers' 3-4 defense

September, 19, 2013
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Undefeated and seemingly in sync, with a winless opponent on the horizon, it should be all sunshine and lemonade at Halas Hall this week.

Forget about it.

The Chicago Bears are acting like somebody is planning to steal their lunch money, giving them a sense of paranoia that is playing out in focused practices and cautious optimism as they prepare to face the 0-2 Pittsburgh Steelers.

Call it the Dick LeBeau factor as the Steelers' defensive guru, with his 3-4 alignment, has the Bears acting like they are about to face a dreaded monster this week instead of the wounded animal Pittsburgh really is.

"You always have to be on your toes," tight end Martellus Bennett said. "You never know who's going to come. They have a lot of great players on the defensive side of the ball. They have a lot of guys who can run around and play multiple positions. The linebackers can play defensive end, the defensive ends can play linebacker. We just have to have our ears up and be ready for everything."

Instead of being satisfied with what they have -- a 2-0 record, improved play form the offense, the ability to rally when necessary, etc. -- the Bears are fully aware of their liabilities this week. They have two rookie offensive linemen heading into their first road game, a hostile environment awaiting that will require the use of a silent snap count and an opposing defense that will attack like a swarm of ninjas.

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Focus on returns paying off for Hester

September, 18, 2013
Devin Hester Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesDevin Hester had a career day against the Vikings on Sunday.

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Those personal-best 249 return yards Devin Hester racked up for the Chicago Bears on Sunday appear to have been born from a conversation early in the summer.

New coach Marc Trestman revealed Monday that it was Hester who suggested that a reduction in responsibilities could help him to once again be the kind of return man who used to pile up weekly honors while heading off to Pro Bowls.

“The conversation, to my recollection, was, ‘It sounds to me like you just want to be a returner, and that’s OK with me. I would like you to be the returner and focus solely on that,’” Trestman said.

The revelation debunks a common belief that Hester was demoted to a return-only role after years of mostly choppy results as a wide receiver.

“I don’t ever remember me telling him that that was the way it’s going to be,” Trestman said. “I remember our conversation being more like, ‘I know that’s what you want to do, and I’m all-in.’ That’s sort of the way I remember it.

“Now, this was six and a half months ago. It was literally the second week I was here, I think. And it just stopped right there. [Special-teams coach] Joe [DeCamillis] started meeting with him, and we started developing a dialogue when we saw each other. It wasn’t complicated at all. It just seemed to happen that way.”

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