Chicago Bears: Jared Allen

Chicago Bears defensive end Jared Allen received recognition as one of the two finalists for the fourth annual Salute to Service Award, which is presented by USAA.

Allen became a finalist for the award in part through his Homes for Wounded Warriors Foundation, which provides financial assistance to make homes accessible for veterans returning from war with debilitating injuries.

Allen builds, purchases or remodels the homes to help disabled veterans in their returns home.

Allen founded Homes for Wounded Warriors in 2009, and since the foundation was established, it has raised more than $3.5 million as it tries to donate 10 homes every year to wounded warriors.

Here’s more information about Allen’s selection as a finalist for the award on the team’s official website.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- As Chicago Bears defensive end Jared Allen approaches the end of what could be his first season since 2006 in which he didn’t record a sack total in the double digits, the veteran isn’t worried about the perception that he’s underachieved.

While a source within the organization believes Allen is playing the run much better than he has in the past, the Chicago Bears paid the veteran $15.5 million fully guaranteed in a four-year deal back in March to sack quarterbacks.

“People can say whatever they want,” Allen said. “I know what I put on tape. So I could sit here and make excuses, say I got sick, do this, that and the other. It is what it is. I go out every week and whatever I have to do to win… so people can talk. They can say what they want. But I know what goes on tape, and I know I give it my all.”

Allen’s streak of 113 consecutive starts came to a close during a Week 4 loss to the Green Bay Packers because of a bout with pneumonia. Before that, he missed time in the preseason to attend the birth of his daughter, in addition to sitting out the third preseason game at Seattle because of a bruised shoulder.

Allen’s illness caused the five-time Pro Bowl defensive end to lose 15 pounds, and for the next few weeks he struggled to get back to his normal playing weight.

In 12 games, Allen has contributed five sacks to go with 55 tackles, one pass defensed, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. With three games remaining, there’s a chance Allen could reach a double-digit sack total, but he hasn’t been credited with a full sack since the team’s Nov. 27 loss at Detroit.

“We love him as a player,” defensive coordinator Mel Tucker said. “He does a heck of a job for us. What does he bring to the table? I don’t think we have enough time to even talk about that right now. He’s a very good player for us. He’s been productive.”
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Coaches and players downplayed the players-only film session held by Chicago's defense last week prior to the team's 21-13 win over the Minnesota Vikings, but nobody's denying the positive impact.

After surrendering 27 points or more in three consecutive games, including 50-plus in losses to Green Bay and New England, the Bears limited Minnesota 13 points and 243 total yards, in addition to stalling the Vikings' offense to a 2-of-11 performance on third downs.

[+] EnlargeAllen
AP Photo/Charles Rex ArbogastThe Bears held the Vikings to just 10 first downs on Sunday. The Vikings converted on just 2 of 11 third-down attempts.
"We talked last week about everyone needing to do more," Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker explained Wednesday. "Players and coaches together, just looking to take it up a notch. I think that was an effort on their part to take some extra time together as a unit. I think that was a positive. I think it paid off for us."

Tucker approached Jared Allen about holding the meeting, according to the defensive end, who said the staff "wanted to give us an opportunity to take over as leaders and add some accountability to the defense."

"He approached me about it," Allen said. "I thought it was a good idea. It's a good way for guys to understand what each group is doing. It's just another way to hold each other accountable and to build off things and create communication."

Allen stressed the meeting "really wasn't a big deal." But its effects on the defense can't be denied as the group held the Vikings to just 10 first downs, while taking the ball away once on an interception, in addition to producing two sacks.

"This is not something unusual," Bears coach Marc Trestman said of the meeting. "The more we can do things together, oftentimes we can get better that way. It's another way to get better, another format for the guys. It's a positive thing. It's encouraging the guys want to do those types of things."

Linebacker Lance Briggs jokingly denied the meeting ever took place, before adding "what I can tell you about the players-only meeting was that the information is for the players only."

Fair enough, but it's clear the approach worked for defense against the Vikings.

The group faces another challenge Sunday when the Bears host former head coach Lovie Smith and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Soldier Field. Smith set a high standard for Chicago's defense during his nine-year tenure as the team's head coach.

Buccaneers quarterback Josh McCown, who served as the backup in Chicago last season, doesn't see much difference in the club's defense now compared to his time as a Bear.

"It's very similar to what I saw last year, very similar to what we've practiced against here down here in training camp," McCown said. "This last game, it really looked like they flew around, made some plays, played with great energy and great juice. So we expect nothing less come Sunday."
CHICAGO -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the Chicago Bears' 21-13 victory over the Minnesota Vikings at Soldier Field:

Weight off their shoulders: Sporting a cowboy hat in the locker room after the victory, defensive end Jared Allen expressed relief in the Bears winning their first game in more than a month.

"People questioned the character of our locker room, but we know what we have," Allen said. "You can only get beat up so many times before you fight back."

Allen finished the game with five tackles and a sack to go with three quarterback hits.

Room cleared out quickly: The celebratory locker room in the bowels of Soldier Field cleared out quickly after the team's win.

Left tackle Jermon Bushrod sat alone dressing while linebackers Jonathan Bostic and Christian Jones -- wearing a Florida State cap -- chatted across the room. Those three and safety Brock Vereen were the last to leave the locker room.

Vikings vs. Bears preview

November, 13, 2014
When: 1 p.m. ET Sunday Where: Soldier Field, Chicago TV: CBS

It's been nearly an entire calendar year since the Chicago Bears (3-6) won a game at Soldier Field (Dec. 9, 2013), and for the Minnesota Vikings (4-5), the drought is even longer (Oct. 14, 2007).

So at the conclusion of Sunday's contest, at least one team will walk away having cleared a major hurdle. NFL Nation reporters Michael C. Wright (Bears) and Ben Goessling (Vikings) break down the matchup:

Michael C. Wright: The Bears wanted to do what Minnesota did going into the bye week, and that's stack up a couple of wins so they could start the second half of the season riding a wave of momentum. I know the quality of the opponents hasn't been exactly stellar over Minnesota's last two outings, but how much of a roll would you say the Vikings are on right now, and what's been the difference?

Ben Goessling: The biggest difference has been the teams they've played -- Tampa Bay and Washington aren't exactly formidable opponents, and the Vikings haven't beaten any team with more than three wins -- but I'll give them credit for punching back at key moments in a pair of close games. They've got a young defense that's developing confidence in coach Mike Zimmer's scheme, and Teddy Bridgewater has directed a couple of key scoring drives in the fourth quarter after missing a chance to put a game away Oct. 19 in Buffalo. The Vikings haven't beaten anyone of substance yet, but with four games against sub-.500 teams in the second half, they might not have to. They can get to 7-9 or 8-8 just by taking care of business against losing teams, and as they continue to grow under Zimmer, who knows? I don't expect a playoff run this season, but I won't yet rule it out, especially if they get Kyle Rudolph and Adrian Peterson back.

There will be plenty of intrigue from Vikings fans about Jared Allen and how he's fared in Chicago. I know he lost quite a bit of weight from pneumonia -- is that the main reason he's struggled to get to the quarterback, or do his problems run deeper than that?

Wright: Ben, I don't quite understand exactly why he hasn't had more of an impact. Headed into the bye week, Allen talked about needing to find an extra "half step," which I took as he needed to clean up some technical kinks to get to the quarterback just a tad quicker. I think a combination of factors have limited Allen's ability to make an impact. Allen missed time to attend the birth of his daughter during the preseason. Then, the team held him out of the exhibition outing because of a bruised shoulder. Two days after Chicago's Sept. 22 win against over the Jets, Allen fought through pneumonia, which caused him to lose 15 pounds. So to me, all of those factors have sort of prevented Allen from hitting his stride. But I've definitely seen him gradually pick things up over the past few weeks.

There's a chance Rudolph could be returning to the lineup this week from a sports hernia. How much does the offense change with Rudolph in the mix, and how in sync can he get with Bridgewater since they haven't really worked together in a game situation?

Goessling: Rudolph will definitely help the offense, primarily because his presence means the Vikings could have two solid pass-catching options in the two-tight-end sets they like to use. You're right, however, about Bridgewater not having had much time with him; most of Bridgewater's snaps in training camp and the preseason came with the No. 2 offense, and he's developed a solid rapport with Chase Ford in recent weeks. Rudolph, though, is a big target who's probably the Vikings' best threat in the red zone. That alone should help the Vikings, who rank 23rd in the league in red zone efficiency.

As bad as the Bears' defense has been, the offense should have enough weapons to keep them in some of these games. How close does the Bears' offense seem to be spiraling out of control, and what is it going to take to fix things this weekend against a vastly improved Vikings defense?

Wright: How close? Man, the offense has already spiraled out of control. When you've got a bye week to self-scout, study the opponent, and fix internal issues and you still come out and play like they did Sunday, I'd say things are out of control. Obviously, you know Jay Cutler has committed a league-high 15 turnovers, which have led to 65 points by opponents. So that needs to get fixed for the Bears to have a shot. The offense also needs to truly commit to running the football. At Green Bay, the Bears threw the ball nine times and rushed on four occasions in the first quarter as the Packers took a 14-0 lead. After Green Bay went up 7-0, the Bears passed the next two plays on the ensuing possession, with the second resulting in an interception that helped the Packers go up 14-0. So now the Bears are forced into passing mode, which means exposing Cutler to more turnovers. Although the Bears passed nine times in the first quarter, several of those attempts came on run calls featuring run-pass options. So Cutler pulled the ball on some of the runs and opted to pass. The Bears need to take away that option and run the ball when a run call is on. That would help tremendously against the Vikings.

Speaking of running, nobody likes hypotheticals, but let's say the league reinstated Peterson in time for Sunday's game (we already know that's not happening). But realistically, how much of an impact could Peterson make after such a long layoff, because the only way to get into playing shape is to actually play?

Goessling: Well, it sounds unlikely Peterson is going to get back in time for Sunday's game, but whenever he does return, he'll have to answer the questions you just raised. He hasn't played in more than two months, and the Vikings' offense has changed substantially since he last played. They spend the majority of their time in the shotgun, where Peterson has only 86 career carries, and that change alone means he'll have some things to get used to when (or if) he plays for the Vikings this season. The Vikings are trying to build an offense that will work for their young quarterback, and a number of its components -- runs out of the shotgun, more plays with designed points of attack and fewer opportunities to freelance, a larger involvement for running backs in the passing game -- will be new to Peterson. He was excited about getting a chance to catch the ball more often before the season. Maybe he'll get a chance to prove he can be a weapon in that facet of the game eventually.

What do you expect from the Bears after that loss in Green Bay on Sunday night? The Vikings have said they figure they'll get an angry opponent Sunday; do you expect the same thing, or are the Bears close to giving up on the season?

Wright: I think the Bears have given up. The Vikings might see an angry opponent for the first half. But if they take a decent lead into intermission, the Bears -- not all of them, but most -- will mail it in, call it a day. Sure, they're saying all the right things publicly because that's what they've got to do. But I get the sense that neither side of the ball trusts the other to effectively do their jobs, and I think collectively, the squad -- coaches and players, alike -- is wondering why the offense hasn't gotten more production out of its high-priced quarterback. Regardless of Bears coach Marc Trestman saying it takes all 11 for the offense to be successful, everything starts and ends with the quarterback in Chicago's system, and that's coming from a source within the organization who added, "If [the quarterback] functions [in the offense], it's good, if not, there is no place to turn."

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Although Chicago Bears coach Marc Trestman said the staff would take a long look at the depth chart headed into Sunday's game against Minnesota, defensive coordinator Mel Tucker said Wednesday the club will face the Vikings with the same set of starters on defense it used during last week's loss to the Green Bay Packers.

"There are always things we can change," Tucker said. "There is nothing set in stone on the lineup. The group we're going to put out there we think will give us the best chance to win this game. I will tell you right now, we plan on going in with the group that started the game [last week]. We are going to go in with the group that started that game, and we need to get them better. They need to play better. We need to coach them better. Everything we do this week is to be able to get that done."

The Bears became the first team since 1923 last week to give up 50-plus points in back-to-back contests with their 55-14 loss to the Packers. Tucker said "being embarrassed at this point is not productive" in the club's preparation efforts for Sunday's matchup with the Vikings, and the truth is the roster features few viable options in terms of potential changes in the starting lineup.

In the loss to the Packers, the Bears experienced several breakdowns and errors in communication, with the most pronounced coming on Aaron Rodgers' 73-yard touchdown pass to Jordy Nelson. Rodgers said after the game the Bears were playing multiple coverages in different areas of the field.

It appeared the Bears were playing three different coverages on the play as Tim Jennings -- apparently playing zone -- passed off Nelson to a safety that wasn't there on one side of the field. On the other side of the field, cornerback Kyle Fuller was playing man coverage, while Brock Vereen stood in the deep middle of the field in what appeared to be a single-high safety look.

"When we start talking about individual guys on individual plays, I don't go there because I'm not a guy that's going to throw a guy under the bus," Tucker said. "I don't believe in doing that. Never have, never will. On that particular play, we, as a defense, didn't get the job done in multiple areas. Rush and coverage. That's where it stands."

Linebacker Lance Briggs took responsibility for the error.

"I shouldn't have made the check," said Briggs, who calls the club's defenses. "I saw something, tried to check out of it, and we don't have a check out of that defense. So I put our defense in jeopardy on that play."

Tucker and other staffers on the defense discussed accountability Wednesday during meetings, stressing the need for everyone involved "to do a better job of being accountable to each other in the room," Tucker said.

"We talked about that and we discussed that's what we need to do. There's nothing we're doing that's at a level to say that, 'We've got that,'" Tucker said. "Every element of what we're doing, we need to do a much better job at. That's the atmosphere we have. It could be leadership, it could be accountability, it could be coaching, it could be playing, it could be technique, it could be fundamentals. All those things need to be ramped up, need to be improved."

The last 33 offensive possessions by Chicago's opponents over the past three games have yielded 14 touchdowns and seven field goals as the unit has forced just six punts. Scoring efficiency for the club's past three opponents has been at least 50 percent in each of those contests.

The Bears currently rank last in the NFL in points allowed (30.8 points per game), and apparently spirited discussions inside the locker room and meeting rooms have taken place regarding the defense's struggles and what they need to do to rebound.

"What's been said will stay between us, all the players," defensive end Jared Allen said. "But nothing's going to be said to make somebody play. You're either self-motivated to be the best, you're either embarrassed when you get your butt kick, and you want to go back out and prove yourself or you're not. That's just the bottom line. This game is humbling. This game exposes people and it humbles you. If you're not in it, you'll get exposed. But I think we've got a good team, and obviously I came here for a reason. I still believe in this team and I still believe in what we have. I still believe in what we can accomplish."

Midseason report: Chicago Bears

November, 5, 2014
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Fresh off a 51-23 throttling at the hands of the New England Patriots, Chicago Bears coach Marc Trestman and general manager Phil Emery conducted a dual press conference at Halas Hall, where they expressed disappointment over the team’s inconsistent performances through the first half of the season, while stressing the need to remain unified.

“We’re a 3-5 football team, and that’s what our record states,” Emery said. “The NFL’s about winning games, and we deserve the criticism we have and should have from that record. I’m extremely disappointed in where we’re at as a football team right now, and that disappointment starts with being extremely disappointed for our fans. They, like us, held high optimism for the start of our season and where we would be at that midpoint, and we’ve let them down in that regard. We understand and share their frustrations and clearly understand our failures at this point.”

But what will the Bears do to turn things around for the second half? Trestman believes a long, hard critical self-evaluation is in order.

“We’ve got a chance to look back and really take a systematic look at the issues that we’ve had and come up with some bona fide solutions at this present time because that’s the best we can do,” he said. “We weren’t able to get it done the way we wanted to get it done over the first eight weeks of the season. There’s no doubt about it. There’s no consistency there. There’s moments of very good play, of solid play across the board, and there’s moments of very, very poor play, like we’ve seen over the last couple weeks.”

Midseason MVP: Running back Matt Forte is certainly worthy, given his consistency over the first eight games (1,052 all-purpose yards). But defensive end Willie Young receives the nod here. A reserve behind high-priced free-agent acquisitions Jared Allen and Lamarr Houston, Young outperformed his counterparts at the position through the first half of the season and is tied for eighth in the NFL with a team-high seven sacks. Young ranks third on the team in tackles (32), a testament to his high-motor style which allows the fifth-year veteran to make plays from sideline to sideline on a consistent basis.

Biggest disappointment: After a surprisingly productive 2013 campaign which seemed to quiet many doubters, quarterback Jay Cutler received a seven-year deal worth $126.7 million and the high expectations that accompany such an investment. Cutler produced respectable numbers (67.2 completion percentage, 95.8 passer rating) through the first half of the season, but continues to display his penchant for making game-changing mistakes. Cutler turned the ball over on multiple occasions in each of the team’s five losses, leading to 44 points by opponents despite the expectation he would finally soar in Year 2 playing in Trestman’s offense. The staff and front office continue to show unwavering support for Cutler. If Emery is second-guessing the team’s investment in Cutler, he certainly hasn’t shown it.

Best moment: Uncertainty permeated the atmosphere in the 90 minutes prior to the Week 2 opening of Levi’s Stadium against the San Francisco 49ers with questions regarding the availability of receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery as both were questionable due to ankle and hamstring injuries. After putting the receivers through strenuous pregame workouts, the Bears made the late decision to start Jeffery and Marshall. The move paid huge dividends as Marshall caught three touchdown passes to lead the Bears -- who trailed 20-7 going into the fourth quarter -- to a 28-20 upset of the 49ers. Rookie Kyle Fuller helped in Chicago outscoring the 49ers 21-0 in the final 15 minutes as he picked off a pair of passes to provide the Bears' offense with short fields.

Worst moment: Marshall’s impassioned speech -- which could be heard by reporters outside the locker room prior to team officials opening the doors -- and scathing postgame comments following Chicago’s 27-14 loss at home to the Miami Dolphins caused mixed reactions among the team. Marshall called the team’s performances and 3-4 record at the time “unacceptable.” And while some players agreed with the receiver’s comments, others reacted indifferently. Ultimately, Marshall’s locker room speech and comments could have galvanized the Bears, but appear to have done more harm than good considering the beatdown the club took the following game at New England.

Key to the second half: Offensively, the problems run deep as Cutler needs to significantly reduce the turnovers while the staff needs to help out as much as possible on the play-calling end. Trestman talked about the offense’s need to strike a better balance with the pass/run ratio, which obviously would expose Cutler to fewer chances to commit turnovers, while keeping teams guessing. In the passing game, the Bears need to incorporate more weapons instead of relying so heavily on Marshall and Jeffery. Given Martellus Bennett's skill set, there’s no doubt the Bears could use him similar to the way the Patriots attacked the club’s defense with Rob Gronkowski. Defensively, the Bears need to find a way to maintain a level of consistency despite utilizing inexperienced players due to injuries. Injuries were a legitimate excuse for the defense last year, but won’t fly any more given all the depth the team obtained in the offseason, not to mention its stated goal prior to the season of developing every defender on the roster, regardless of stature.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears officially placed defensive end Lamarr Houston on injured reserve Monday, which means free-agent acquisition Willie Young should be poised for a more significant role as a starter opposite Jared Allen.

“Obviously it’s always tough whenever a guy goes down. But at the same time nothing changes for me whatsoever,” Young said.

Perhaps he’s correct, judging from the snap counts played by Houston, Young and Allen through the first eight games. Although Young isn’t a starter, he has played just as much as the first-teamers at the position. Houston participated in 397 snaps prior to his injury, while Allen played 390 snaps despite missing an outing due to pneumonia.

“You know Lamarr was put on IR. [David] Bass is up,” Trestman said. “So Jared and Willie will handle the defensive ends obviously.”

Young has played in 323 snaps despite not being a starter. The club envisioned Young as a first-teamer when it originally signed him in the offseason, but the plan changed once Allen became available. Still, Young leads the team in sacks (7), which ties for fifth in the NFL.

Young also ranks fourth in sack yardage (49).

“What I bring to the table personally is what I bring to the table,” Young said. “I’ll continue to bring that to the table to the best of my ability. But besides that, like I said it’s really tough when you lose a guy -- starter, great player across the board. We’ve just got to continue to try to get better day by day. I’ll just keep bringing the pain, baby. That’s all. Ain’t nothing more to it. I’m going to just keep doing what I do.”

Young spent a good portion of the team’s week off fishing and spending time with family but said he used two days of his down time to study what has gone awry on defense.

“What I sum up from that is we have mistakes that are easily correctable,” Young said.

How do the Bears fix them?

“We just come together. We regroup right now,” Young said. “We had that time to get away from it, sit back, get your thoughts together, ask yourself, ‘What is it that you really want? How do you want this second half of the season to go?’ It’s up to us. It’s up to us to get that done.”

With Young and Allen now the starters, look for the Bears to utilize Cornelius Washington, Trevor Scott and Bass as rotational players. When the team goes into nickel rushing situations, it operated with Young and Allen at the ends while kicking Houston inside to defensive tackle. Now in those situations, the Bears will have to look elsewhere to bolster the inside rush.

We’ll be sitting there with Ego ;Ferguson] and Willie [Sutton] and Stephen [Paea] and Jeremiah [Ratliff], and we’ll work with those guys principally,” Trestman said. “We’ll see how that evolves during the course of the week.”

FOXBORO, Mass. -- Defensive end Jared Allen maintained positivity but spoke truth after the Chicago Bears' defense played punching bag to a New England Patriots attack that constantly wobbled the visitors with haymakers Sunday on the way to a 51-23 knockout at Gillette Stadium.

"The only positive side of a butt-kicking like this is there are going to be a lot of glaring things on film we can improve on," Allen said. "The ones that are tough are when you play really well and still lose. At least in this one, we flat out got it handed to us."

No disagreement here.

[+] EnlargeTom Brady
AP Photo/Steven SenneThe Bears say they weren't caught off guard by what the Patriots displayed Sunday, but a combination of execution and Tom Brady's precision proved overwhelming.
What's somewhat surprising is the Bears have now surrendered 45 points or more in three of their past 18 games. To put that into perspective, consider the fact the Bears allowed 45 points or more in just three of 222 games prior to Sunday, dating all the way to Week 9 of the 1999 season, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

The Patriots rolled up 487 yards of offense and put points on the board on eight of 10 offensive possessions with five touchdowns and only one punt. Perhaps more surprising, and probably embarrassing for Chicago, is Tom Brady tossing as many touchdowns (five) as incompletions in lighting up the Bears for 354 yards on 30-of-35 passing. Tight end Rob Gronkowski and wide receiver Brandon LaFell put on a pass-catching clinic.

So much for the $34 million guaranteed spent to ramp up the front four with the additions of Allen, Lamarr Houston and Willie Young, who failed to sack Brady, or merely disrupt the quarterback, as he put up a passer rating of 148.8.

Gronkowski caught all nine of the passes thrown his direction for 149 yards and three touchdowns, while LaFell pulled down each of the 11 throws his way for 124 yards and a touchdown. Gronkowski gave Chicago the most trouble, and, despite the Bears' deployment of various players against him in coverage, strangely, they never elected to double-team the tight end.

"You saw it. You see the struggles," Bears coach Marc Trestman said. "There's a size matchup when you have him man-to-man. We had him covered man-to-man by two to three different players. As I said, Tom made meticulous throws. He was on target even when he was covered, so you have to give him credit for that. And he caught some in zone as well certainly, but we had some very tight coverage on him, some hip-to-hip coverage, and the ball was thrown perfectly."

Bears safety Ryan Mundy matched up one-on-one against Gronkowski in some instances and made no excuses for his or the team's inability to neutralize the tight end. Mundy said the Bears prepped all week for what they saw on Sunday, and the Patriots attacked the way they expected based off the team's film study.

"It boils down to execution, and that's what our system is based on: everyone doing their jobs," Mundy said. "They started out in good field position and were able to get some runs. But we knew what type of team they were, and we knew their personnel. [Gronkowski] is a great athlete, and you've got to give him credit."

In all, the Patriots hit 10 plays for a gain of 17 yards or more. Most importantly, they put pressure on Chicago's defense by staying out of third-and-long situations. In the first quarter, the Patriots converted three third-down conversions, with the longest being a third-and-3.

Then, in the second quarter, New England faced two third-and-long situations (third-and-18 and third-and-16), yet converted them both on Brady completions to Gronkowski for gains of 21 and 17 yards as the home team put up 31 points (one score came via the Patriots' defense) in the second quarter.

Linebacker D.J. Williams admitted to being "personally embarrassed with the performance" on defense, and Young believes "it's not time to blow your top yet."

According to Allen, Chicago "had a heck of a week of practice" coming off a drama-inducing loss last week to the Miami Dolphins, yet the club failed to respond against Brady and the Patriots. With a week off to rest and re-evaluate, the Bears return to work at Halas Hall next Monday, but the road doesn't get any easier with them set to face the Green Bay Packers on Nov. 9 at Lambeau Field.

"It's Week 8. We're not going to come out of the bye, try to make a new defense and create a new identity," Mundy said. "That wouldn't be very smart of us."

Maintaining the status quo wouldn't be, either.

Bears CB Kyle Fuller limited at practice

October, 23, 2014
LAKE FOREST, Ill. – Chicago Bears rookie cornerback Kyle Fuller (hand, hip) returned to practice on Thursday wearing a protective brace on his fractured right hand.

The official injury report listed Fuller as having limited participation.

“I talked to him after practice. He said it went well,” Bears head coach Marc Trestman said.

“Our decision with Kyle is day-to-day in terms of how he’s working. He practiced today to the full extent of practice. We’ll see how that is tomorrow and we’ll continue to evaluate it daily. We certainly want him to feel comfortable playing and not to have the concerns that he can hurt himself more with what he has. We certainly wouldn’t put him out there if we thought that was the case.”

Linebackers Lance Briggs (ribs) and Jon Bostic (back), tight end Martellus Bennett (hamstring) and right tackle Jordan Mills (foot) were also limited.

Three players were held out of practice: defensive end Jared Allen (rest), safety Danny McCray (knee) and KR/WR Chris Williams (illness).

Safety Chris Conte (shoulder) practiced without restrictions for the second consecutive day and is expected to be available Sunday when the Bears travel to New England. Conte was inactive in Week 7 after failing to finish four of the Bears' first six regular-season games.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears defensive end Jared Allen participated in fewer snaps on defense than key reserve Willie Young in Sunday's loss to the Miami Dolphins, but the five-time Pro Bowler doesn't believe reduced playing time for him is in the team's plans.

"It's probably an aberration," Allen said, laughing. "They haven't told me I am on reduced playing time. We'll take it for that."

Allen played in 46 of the club's 70 snaps against the Dolphins, while Young participated in 54 snaps.

In the third quarter, Miami marched 83 yards in 13 plays with Lamar Miller capping the drive with on a 2-yard touchdown run. The Bears didn't utilize Allen during the drive, but defensive coordinator Mel Tucker pointed out the Dolphins weren't faced with many third-and-long situations. On that possession, Miami faced third down just twice with 2 yards to convert. The Dolphins also converted a fourth-and-1.

"Going forward, obviously we want him in the game," Tucker said. "He's been a highly-productive player for us. It was an unusual series. We had a lot of short-yardage situations. We didn't really get into third-and-long. We visited with him about it, and we're ready to move on. We'll be fine. We just tell him that we're going to make sure that we get him on the field as much as possible."

Allen wasn't concerned about a lack of playing time, but immediately after the game referred questions regarding the situation to the coaching staff.

"We haven't really talked about it," Allen said. "The rotation happened that way I guess. We'll move on to New England."

The Bears held out Allen when the team faced Green Bay on Sept. 28, but he's played in six games this season, contributing 24 tackles and 1.5 sacks.

Bears left tackle Jermon Bushrod officially out vs. Panthers

October, 3, 2014
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears will face the Carolina Panthers on Sunday without left tackle Jermon Bushrod, as the club officially declared him out because of a knee injury suffered Thursday during a workout at Halas Hall.

In anticipation of Bushrod’s absence, the Bears shuffled in multiple players along the offensive line at practice Thursday in an attempt to find the best combination up front. Bushrod will miss his first game since 2009. He had started in 68 consecutive games.

“I don’t know how many it is in a row, but it’s coming to an end this week,” Bushrod said. “We’re gonna see how I feel in the next few days. [The injury is] nothing crazy. It’s just some things I have to deal with one day at a time. I miss it. I’ve been away from practice for two days. It’s hard to see the guys out there grinding.”

The Bears also announced defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff will miss his third consecutive game stemming from a concussion suffered during Week 2 at San Francisco, and linebacker Shea McClellin (hand) and safety Ahmad Dixon (hamstring) are also out for Sunday’s game.

Bushrod’s injury forced the Bears to move around players at multiple positions along the offensive line at practice Thursday as a contingency plan. Working in Chicago’s favor is the fact that center Roberto Garza and left guard Matt Slauson returned to practice Wednesday after missing the last three games with high ankle sprains.

Slauson is officially listed as questionable , and if he plays, Bears coach Marc Trestman said the team will start Michael Ola at Bushrod’s left tackle spot. Ola has started the past three games at left guard in place of Slauson. But the team anticipates Slauson returning to the lineup against the Panthers.

“That’s a common thought and belief, that you want the quarterback’s back side to be protected, and as we’ve gone into it, the move is right now is Mike will be over there if Matt is playing,” Trestman said. “Mike got a lot of work over there, anyway, to be where we could certainly have him starting there and have him play the guard position as well. The hope is that Matt will be playing and Mike will be at left tackle.”

In other injury news, defensive end Jared Allen (pneumonia), linebacker Lance Briggs (knee), safety Chris Conte (shoulder), receiver Brandon Marshall (ankle), and linebacker D.J. Williams (neck) are officially listed as probable. Garza (ankle) and cornerback Sherrick McManis (quadriceps) are doubtful.

Chicago typically dresses just seven offensive linemen for games, which means the club cross-trains the players at multiple positions up front in case of injury. During the preseason, Ola bounced along the offensive line, playing both tackle and guard in spurts.

A rookie, Ola admitted to feeling a little pressure about taking on the responsibility of protecting Jay Cutler’s blind side Sunday against the Panthers. Ola didn’t start taking snaps at left tackle until Wednesday’s workout.

“I definitely don’t want to be that guy who gets Jay hit at all, or I’ll be back to flipping burgers or something,” Ola said.

Jared Allen returns to practice

October, 1, 2014
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Jared Allen's streak of 113 consecutive starts ended Sunday when he missed Chicago’s loss to the Green Bay Packers because of pneumonia. But the five-time Pro Bowl defensive end returned to the practice field Wednesday, saying, “Hopefully, I’ll be back up by this weekend” as the Bears prepare to face the Carolina Panthers.

Allen said he felt sick during Chicago’s win over the New York Jets on Sept. 22, but wasn’t diagnosed until two days later with pneumonia. Because of the illness, Allen lost 15 pounds, from 254 down to 239.

The Chicago Bears list Allen at 270 pounds.

“Just due to being sick, not really eating for a few days, sweating, fever; all that good stuff,” Allen said. “I feel good now, just trying to get back. I’ve been having good workouts the last couple of days; just progressing, steadily going up. I went out and did individual [drills] today, then did a nice sprint workout on the treadmill [and it] felt good. I’m more concerned about recovery time. Everything feels good right now. I think it’s just eating, rehydrating and getting all that weight back on.”

Allen stepped onto the scale before eating Wednesday and weighed in at 241 pounds. Allen expects the weight to “come back in the next day or so,” saying “it’ll get back and I’ll be ready to go.” Allen spent a couple of days taking medications before the fever from pneumonia broke, he said.

Before the Bears' game Sunday, Allen traveled to Soldier Field to meet with team doctors and was ultimately instructed to go home. Without Allen, Chicago lost 38-17 to the Packers as Aaron Rodgers threw four touchdown passes and finished with a passer rating of 151.2 against a virtually nonexistent Bears rush.

“It was brutal. It was miserable, especially [with it being] the Packers,” Allen said. “I’ve played through a lot of things, and there are just certain things that you can’t do. Trust me, it was a long-fought battle whether I was going to be able to give it a go or not. It’s one of those things that you don’t want it to come back and then end up in the hospital. So after talking to doctors, my wife and everybody, we felt that was the best plan of attack. And it was. I wouldn’t have been worth anything out there.”

Allen’s illness serves as just the latest in what has been what the defensive end calls an “interesting” turn of events through the first four games of the season. Allen missed time in the preseason to attend the birth of his daughter, in addition to being held out of the team’s third preseason game with a bruised shoulder.

Asked if he’s back to normal, Allen said, “I’m trying to. Not right now, obviously. I’m still a little light. I haven’t gotten in that rhythm or that groove of what I’m used to playing in. But you know, it’s not anybody’s fault. Preseason is preseason. I didn’t do much in preseason in Minnesota, either. I was sad I missed this game because coming out of the San Fran[cisco] game and then the New York game, I felt like I was really starting to get in the rhythm of this defense and where we were at. Even though I didn’t get [Jets quarterback] Geno [Smith] on the ground, I had some really good rushes in the fourth quarter. I really felt my game was where it needed to be going into that week. I still feel that.”

Right now though, Allen said the main goals are to regain weight and strength while building up stamina for his expected return Sunday against the Carolina Panthers. Through the first quarter of the season, Allen has contributed 11 tackles with no sacks.

“I’m looking forward to this next 12 weeks,” Allen said. “I’m like, ‘What else can happen, right?’ I’ve got the injuries out of the way, got the sickness out of the way. Let’s go have fun.”

Marshall (ankle) has full participation

October, 1, 2014
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears received encouraging news on the health front Wednesday with the return of five previously injured/ill starters to the practice field in advance of Sunday's road game in Carolina.

Headlining the group is wide receiver Brandon Marshall (ankle), who's been battling a sore ankle since Week 1 that's limited his production the two weeks to three combined catches versus the Jets and Packers.

Marshall practiced without restrictions on Wednesday for the first time in recent memory.

"It was good to get him [Marshall] back out there at full speed," Bears head coach Marc Trestman said.

Meantime, defensive end Jared Allen (pneumonia), defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff (concussion), center Roberto Garza (ankle) and left guard Matt Slauson (ankle) were limited on Wednesday, a positive development since all four players were inactive in Week 4.

Allen said he is confident about his chances of suiting up this weekend against the Panthers. However, the defensive end did acknowledge he lost about 15 pounds during his illness, and checked-in on Wednesday morning at 241 pounds, approximately 13 pounds below his normal playing weight of 254.

The statuses of Garza, Slauson and Ratliff remain unknown for Week 5, but Trestman confirmed that Garza and Slauson will return to the starting lineup whenever they are medically cleared.

"That's the way we are going," Trestman said.

Left tackle Jermon Bushrod (knee) and cornerback Sherrick McManis (quadriceps) were also listed as having limited participation.

Safety Chris Conte (shoulder) had full participation.

Four players sat out Wednesday: linebackers Lance Briggs (knee), Shea McClellin (hand) and D.J. Williams (neck), and safety Ahmad Dixon (hamstring).

Jared Allen rejoins teammates following illness

September, 29, 2014
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Veteran Chicago Bears defensive end Jared Allen worked out and attended meetings at Halas Hall on Monday after being inactive in Week 4 due to a reported case of pneumonia.

Allen’s absence on Sunday in the Bears’ 38-17 defeat to the Green Bay Packers snapped a streak of 113 consecutive starts. The five-time Pro Bowl defensive end hadn’t missed a game since Week 2 of the 2007 regular season.

“He was working out,” Bears head coach Marc Trestman said. “It’s going to be day-to-day and we’ll see where he is on Wednesday. It was good to see him in the building, good to see him in all the meetings. He got some work in the weight room. That’s encouraging.”

Trestman declined to elaborate the amount of weight Allen lost since he contracted the illness.

“He always looks skinny to me,” Trestman smiled.

The Bears' next practice is scheduled for Wednesday in advance of Sunday’s road matchup versus the Carolina Panthers.