Chicago Bears: 2013 season

Bears fan who tasered wife fined

January, 14, 2014
1/14/14
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An Illinois man and Chicago Bears fan who tasered his Green Bay Packers fan wife as part of a bet in November was fined $250 in a Wisconsin court on Jan. 9.

John Grant, 42, of Tinley Park, Ill., told police that he and his wife made the wager at a bar in Mayville, Wis., as they watched the Bears beat the Packers on Nov. 4. His wife told police at the time that she didn't think her husband would follow through with it.

Grant was also ordered to pay court costs totaling $568, according to the Beaver Dam Daily Citizen.

Police said at the time that Grant and his wife had been drinking.

Long sticks up for Forte after rough night

December, 23, 2013
12/23/13
4:23
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Matt Forte had a rough night in the Chicago Bears' blowout loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, carrying the ball just nine times for 29 yards and failing to pick up the blitz in pass defense, an area in which he'd been solid in previous games.

But Bears offensive lineman Kyle Long was quick to shut down criticism of Forte on Monday's "Carmen and Jurko" show on ESPN Chicago 1000, saying he himself made mistakes in protection Monday.

"Matt Forte puts his body on the line, like we all do in protection," Long said. "Matt Forte is one of the smartest guys, the most complete backs, in football. I've seen the guy blow up linebackers and defensive lineman at the point of attack and not say a word about it, not bat an eye. Why don't you call me out?"

Bears quarterback Jay Cutler was sacked five times in the loss and the Bears offense was held to 257 yards.

The loss kept the Bears from clinching the NFC North, and they'll now need to defeat the Green Bay Packers on Sunday at Soldier Field to reach the playoffs.

"I think guys realize the opportunity that has come and gone last night," Long said. "But if I know the team like I think I know the team, I think we all kind of wish we could have kept our pads on, gone straight to Soldier Field and played the Packers. Shoot, we could have had an 8 a.m. kickoff this morning. We want to get this thing out of our system as soon as possible."

Report card: Bears at Eagles

December, 23, 2013
12/23/13
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Week 16 Report Card: Bears vs. Eagles

Forte
F

Rushing Offense

The Bears completely abandoned the run game when the Eagles jumped out to an early lead. Matt Forte finished with only nine carries for 29 yards. Michael Bush had seven rushing attempts for 20 yards in garbage time. This is especially disappointing because Forte had topped 100 rushing yards in each of the last three games leading into Sunday night.

Cutler
D+

Passing Offense

Jay Cutler had a handful of beautiful throws, but overall he connected on just 20-of-35 passes for 222 yards and one touchdown, with one interception that Philadelphia returned for a score. Cutler's quarterback rating was 73.8. In defense of Cutler, the Bears' pass protection was miserable. Cutler got sacked five times and was hit countless others. Forte had a particularly bad night picking up the blitz, an area he had really thrived in for the bulk of the season.

McCoy
F

Rushing Defense

Philadelphia ran for 289 yards and four touchdowns. Both LeSean McCoy (133 yards, two touchdowns) and Bryce Brown (115 yards, one touchdown) had monster nights versus the Bears' 32nd-ranked rushing defense. The Bears haven't been able to stop anybody on the ground for much of the year. That is not expected to change.

Foles
D-

Passing Defense

Eagles quarterback Nick Foles was near perfect in the passing game: 21-of-25 for 230 yards, two touchdowns and a 131.7 passer-rating. The Bears did sack Foles twice, but on most occasions he had way too much time to stand in the pocket and survey the field. Foles is a master of the check-down. The Bears could never figure out how to stop him.

Hester
D-

Special Teams

The Bears had one of the worst special-teams sequences in recent memory in the first quarter when Adam Podlesh had a 25-yard punt on the game's opening drive that gave Philadelphia the ball on the Bears' 43-yard line, and then Devin Hester fumbled a kickoff return. Both times, the Eagles scored a touchdown thanks to the short field the Bears' mistakes provided. Robbie Gould did kick a 50-yard field goal.

Trestman
F

Coaching

Even with the opportunity to win the NFC North outright, the Bears came out flat and looked totally unprepared to deal with whatever the Eagles threw at them on both sides of the ball. When that happens, the coaching staff will shoulder a large chunk of the blame.

 

W2W4: Bears at Eagles

December, 21, 2013
12/21/13
9:00
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CHICAGO BEARS (8-6) AT PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (8-6)

7:30 p.m. CT Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field on NBC

Four Downs: Is 30 the magic number?

December, 19, 2013
12/19/13
3:15
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Jay CutlerDennis Wierzbicki/USA TODAY SportsCan Jay Cutler lead the Bears to a playoff berth?
With the Bears' defense continuing to struggle, what do Jay Cutler and the offense need to do to get a win over the Eagles Sunday night? Our panel weighs in on that and more:

First Down

Fact or Fiction: The Bears have to score more than 30 points to beat the Eagles.



[+] EnlargeAlshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall
AP Photo/Charles Rex ArbogastAlshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall have helped the Bears' offense put up some big numbers this season.
Jeff Dickerson: Fact. Philadelphia is seventh in the league in points scored (26.0) and has the No. 1 overall rushing offense at 152.9 yards per game. Defending the run has been one of the Bears’ greatest weaknesses this year. Even after holding the Cleveland Browns to fewer than 100 yards on the ground Sunday the Bears are still dead last in rushing defense (152.4). The Bears have done a better job defensively in recent weeks, but asking them to hold a powerful Eagles offense to fewer than 30 points is a stretch. This game on Sunday night has all the makings of a shootout.

Jon Greenberg: Fact. My personal over-under for the Eagles is 27 1/2 points, give a Cutler pick-six or two. Last week, the Bears defense had a bit of a renaissance, only giving up three scoring drives -- a field goal and two touchdowns. Of course, that was the Browns and this is the Eagles. Here are some numbers to chew on: In five of the Eagles' eight wins this season, they’ve scored 30 or more points, while none of their opponents scored 30. In three of their six losses, opponents scored 30 or more. So 30 points is a pretty good barometer for a win or a loss.


Second Down

Fact or Fiction: Matt Forte will have a better overall game than LeSean McCoy.



SportsNation

Which running back will have a better game Sunday?

  •  
    66%
  •  
    34%

Discuss (Total votes: 1,377)

Jeff Dickerson: Fiction. Don’t get me wrong; Forte is a force with 1,200 rushing yards (seven touchdowns) and 66 receptions through 14 games. Forte is growing stronger as the season wears on with three consecutive 100-plus yard rushing games. But from a statistical standpoint, McCoy is even more dangerous. The Eagles tailback leads the NFL with 1,343 rushing yards and 1,850 yards from scrimmage, and has the luxury of taking on the league’s dead-last rushing defense. The Bears will be hard pressed to hold McCoy below 150 yards on the ground. Forte’s test is a little stiffer; Philadelphia is No. 16 versus the run.

Jon Greenberg: Fiction. I don’t know how the Bears are going to scheme McCoy, but the inclusion of Lance Briggs, if he plays as expected, will sure help. The Eagles offense is full of misdirection and as McCoy says, once the defenses figure out where he is with the ball, he’s already in the secondary. The Eagles defense isn’t fantastic either, so I think Forte will have a solid game, but I’m guessing the Bears go to the air more and Forte doesn’t get as many carries as McCoy.


Third Down

Fact or Fiction: If Jay Cutler struggles in the next two games, Marc Trestman should turn to Josh McCown.



[+] EnlargeChicago's Josh McCown and Jay Cutler
AP Photo/David RichardJosh McCown is unlikely to play again this season now that Jay Cutler is healthy.
Jeff Dickerson: Fiction. The Bears have cast their lot with Cutler. There is no going back. Cutler is the guy for the rest of 2013 regular season and postseason, win or lose. If Bears were to bench Cutler for performance reasons, that would be the end for Cutler in Chicago. I don’t believe the Bears want to or expect to go down that path. Unless Cutler gets hurt or the game is a major blowout, McCown is unlikely to see the field again this year.

Jon Greenberg: Fiction. You can’t coach the team like a sports talk radio caller. This wasn’t even much of a decision. Cutler is the starter and he was going to start as long as he was healthy. That doesn’t mean McCown isn’t the safer option, because he is, but Cutler is their guy and if he’s healthy, he’ll play. Now if he’s struggling because he’s injured, I hope Trestman pulls the plug quicker than he did in the Detroit game. Otherwise, it’s Cutler’s time to win or lose.


Fourth Down

Fact or Fiction: Lance Briggs is the most important player on the Bears defense.



[+] EnlargeLance Briggs
Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY SportsLance Briggs will be a big upgrade to the Bears linebackers when he returns to the field.
Jeff Dickerson: Fact. Briggs is a seven-time Pro Bowl selection who remained at the top of his game (75 tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles and nine tackles-for-loss) at the time of his injury. It’s been mostly downhill for the Bears defense ever since Briggs fractured his shoulder in Washington on Oct. 10. His return to the field would be an enormous lift to the Bears as they fight to win the NFC North.

Jon Greenberg: Fact. Right now he is, anyway. This defense isn’t exactly chock full of keepers. And you can’t have two rookies start in a linebacker group and expect to succeed. The game is too predicated on instinct and experience. In training camp, Jon Bostic, a cerebral and athletic young player, told me he was in awe of Briggs, who seemed to have a sixth sense on the field. Thanks to D.J. Williams’ injury, Bostic has been thrown into the starting unit after barely playing in the beginning of the season. He can react and make plays, but he can’t sniff out what’s going to happen. While Briggs won’t be in the best shape, he can make this group respectable the last two weeks just by being on the field in place of Khaseem Greene. I’m looking to see if Briggs forces a fumble this week. The Bears haven’t had one since Week 4 when Briggs and Corey Wootton each forced one. As we know, turnovers are the key to this defense. Maybe Briggs will bring some of that spirit back to the defense.

Chat alert: Jeff Dickerson at 12:30 CT

November, 25, 2013
11/25/13
12:14
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ESPNChicago.com's Jeff Dickerson takes your Bears questions during a live chat at 12:30 p.m. CT Monday. Click here to submit your questions.

Report card: Bears-Rams

November, 24, 2013
11/24/13
8:08
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Week 12 Report Card: Chicago Bears vs. St. Louis Rams

Forte
C+

Rushing Offense

When Matt Forte attempted to run the football, he was generally effective. Forte gained 77 yards on 16 attempts and routinely made Rams' defenders miss him in space. On the other hand, Michael Bush ended up with minus-5 yards on seven carries. Bush and the Bears struggled in short-yardage, goal-line situations.

McCown
B+

Passing Offense

Another brilliant game by Josh McCown, who went 36-of-47 for 352 yards, with two touchdowns and one interception (his first of the season). Seven different Bears caught passes on Sunday, a testament to McCown's ability to spread the ball around. The only reason the grade isn't higher is because the Bears had issues with their pass protection. Brandon Marshall had a big day with a team-high 10 caches for 117 yards.

Stacy
F

Rushing Defense

The Rams rushed for 258 yards and three touchdowns. The Bears are atrocious in this department. Help does not seem to be on the horizon, either. If the Bears miss the playoffs, their failure to stop the run will be a major reason why. Adrian Peterson could run for 300 yards against them next week in Minneapolis.

Clemens
C

Passing Defense

Kellen Clemens only passed for 167 yards but, then again, he's Kellen Clemens. The Rams didn't need Clemens to throw the ball much, given St. Louis' success on the ground. The middle of the field was wide open for tight end Jared Cook; it was another frustrating theme for the Bears on defense this season.

Hester
B-

Special Teams

The Bears covered kicks well, but a costly holding penalty erased a touchdown by Devin Hester on a punt return. Eventually, the Bears scored seven points on the ensuing drive after the Hester return was called back, but it ate up almost seven minutes of time.

Trestman
D

Coaching

Have to give Marc Trestman and his coaches credit on offense, but the Bears' head coach again passed up sure points and went for it on fourth-and-short only to come up even shorter. For the second straight week, the Bears did not look ready to play and committed 10 penalties. There don't seem to be any answers here.

W2W4: Bears at Rams

November, 23, 2013
11/23/13
4:00
PM ET

CHICAGO BEARS (6-4) at ST. LOUIS RAMS (4-6)

Noon CT Sunday at Edward Jones Dome on FOX
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Mailbag: Trestman for Coach of Year?

November, 22, 2013
11/22/13
9:00
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Here are your questions from this week's mailbag:

1. Marc Trestman for coach of the year? No Charles Tillman, Lance Briggs or Jay Cutler. He is the only coach who is winning with a backup quarterback and I think his analytical approach has been a great change from the old regime. -- Jake, Deerfield, Ill.

Jeff Dickerson: Jake, six regular-season games are left on the schedule, but if Trestman guides the Bears to the playoffs, then I absolutely believe he will be under strong consideration to win NFL Coach of the Year. General manager Phil Emery has done a great job supplying Trestman with talent on offense (Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Martellus Bennett, Kyle Long, Jermon Bushrod, etc.), but Trestman has found a way to tie it all together, even without Cutler for several games. Don’t let Trestman’s laid-back public persona fool you; he is an extremely confident and aggressive head coach, who isn’t afraid to take chances during a game. I also appreciate the way he treats all Bears employees inside Halas Hall. That small token of kindness goes a long way towards winning over a building, which Trestman has done. Even if the Bears fall apart over the next six games and fail to reach the postseason, the future still appears to be bright for Trestman in Chicago.

(Read full post)

Report card: Bears-Ravens

November, 17, 2013
11/17/13
8:11
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Week 11 Report Card: Chicago Bears vs. Baltimore Ravens

Forte
B-

Rushing Offense

The Bears did an OK job on the ground versus a physical Ravens defensive front that played without starting nose tackle Haloti Ngata (inactive). Matt Forte carried the ball 18 times for 83 yards, and the Alshon Jeffery end around, a staple in the Bears' offense, gained 17 yards on three attempts. Considering the opposition, the Bears shouldn't be ashamed by their hard-earned 104 rushing yards.

McCown
B+

Passing Offense

Taking into account the conditions on Sunday, Josh McCown's 216 passing yards, one touchdown and zero interceptions -- 92.9 quarterback rating -- look impressive on paper. McCown stepped up in overtime and delivered a 43-yard strike to Martellus Bennett that set up the eventual game-winning field goal. The veteran backup continues to display a knack for protecting the football. McCown hasn't tossed a single interception in 101 pass attempts on the season, and his poise in the pocket on Sunday was a major reason the Bears were victorious.

Rice
D

Rushing Defense

Baltimore entered the game averaging 73 rushing yards per contest but found success on the ground versus the Bears to the tune of 174 yards. Ray Rice, written off by many for his below-average play in 2013, carried the ball 25 times for 131 yards and one touchdown. One of the few saving graces for the Bears' defense was their goal-line stand at the end of regulation that forced the Ravens to kick a field goal and extend the game to overtime. But the rushing defense continues to be a serious problem for the Bears.

Flacco
B+

Passing Defense

The Bears limited Joe Flacco to just 17-of-31 for 162 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. The middle of the field was open for much of the game but rookie middle linebacker Jon Bostic did pick off Flacco down the middle of the field, while David Bass snared a Flacco pass at the line of scrimmage and returned it for a touchdown. The Bears also sacked Flacco three times -- Julius Peppers with two and Cheta Ozougwu with one. The Ravens' longest pass play went for 17 yards.

Podlesh
A-

Special Teams

Robbie Gould is the master of the Soldier Field kicking conditions, going 3-for-3 on field goal attempts despite the swirling winds. Adam Podlesh pinned Baltimore inside the 20 on two of his six kicks. The Ravens did little in their return game. A couple special teams penalties did hurt the Bears.

Trestman
B

Coaching

In hindsight, Marc Trestman probably needed to use his timeouts on the Ravens' final drive of regulation. That decision would have cost the Bears if the defense hadn't kept the Ravens out of the end zone and forced them to kick a game-tying field goal. But Trestman dealt with the long weather delay to the best of his abilities, and he had his team ready to play when it returned to the field. The Bears could have easily gone in the tank after the loss to the Detroit Lions in Week 10, but Trestman's group responded with a win that likely saved its season.

Report card: Bears-Lions

November, 10, 2013
11/10/13
7:00
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Week 10 Report Card: Detroit Lions 21, Chicago Bears 19

Forte
D

Rushing Offense

Matt Forte had zero impact on the game with 33 rushing yards on 17 attempts (1.9 yard per carry average). Michael Bush failed to convert a fourth-and-1 and never carried the ball again. With Jay Cutler limited due to injuries, there was no threat of the quarterback scrambling outside the pocket to make a play with his feet. The Bears probably need to retire the Alshon Jeffery end-around for the next couple of weeks.

Cutler
B+

Passing Offense

Cutler and Josh McCown were both effective throwing the ball, finishing with a combined 312 yards passing, two touchdowns and one interception. However, Cutler did have a costly interception in the end zone on batted ball. Brandon Marshall and Jeffery each went over 100 receiving yards, and the pass protection was pretty good (two sacks).

Starks
C

Rushing Defense

Reggie Bush ran for 105 yards on only 14 carries and Detroit's No. 2 tailback, Joique Bell, contributed 41 yards on 10 rushing attempts. Bush busted loose for a 39-yard run in the third quarter that set up a touchdown. The run defense was better, but it's still not where it ultimately needs to be.

Conte
B

Passing Defense

The Bears held one of the better passers in the NFL, Matthew Stafford, to 219 yards. Stafford did throw three touchdowns, but the Bears kept most of the action in front of them Sunday. All-word wideout Calvin Johnson finished with six catches for 83 yards (two touchdowns) on 17 targets. Chris Conte had an important second-half interception that resulted in points for the Bears. Stafford was not sacked, but he had several passes deflected at the line of scrimmage.

Podlesh
B+

Special Teams

Robbie Gould nailed both of his field goal attempts and punter Adam Podlesh had a decent day striking the football (42.6 yard per punt average; 42.6 yard net average). There didn't seem to be any issues with new long snapper Jeremy Cain. Devin Hester averaged 28.5 yards on four kickoff returns. The Lions didn't do much on special teams. One of the only negatives was the Bears' failure to recover an end of the game onside kick attempt.

Trestman
D

Coaching

Marc Trestman has made all the right moves since he arrived in Chicago, but unfortunately he is going to take some heat after this one. First, the decision to start Cutler was questionable at best. The decision to stick with him until the final drive of the game, despite an apparent new ankle injury, is a head-scratcher. Trestman also passed up a sure field goal in the first half and went for it on fourth-and-1. The Bears failed to convert. Mel Tucker's defense had a much better effort, but what was with the decision to go Cover-1 on the Calvin Johnson 14-yard touchdown with the Lions facing third-and-10 from the 14?

Jon Bostic to play under Briggs' wing

October, 17, 2013
10/17/13
4:45
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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
10/17/13
3:49
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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
10/09/13
3:52
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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
10/09/13
2:57
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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.”

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