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Friday, October 21, 2011
Bears trying to stay within routine

By Jeff Dickerson

LONDON -- As you can imagine, the Bears weren't exactly warm and fuzzy after flying overnight from Chicago to London, landing, going straight to meetings, then heading almost immediately to practice.

Brian Urlacher
Brian Urlacher doesn't plan to go sight-seeing in London, but he did try his hand at cricket.

"Yes, I did get some sleep on the plane, for the eighth time," Bears running back Matt Forte said to a reporter who arrived late to Friday's media session.

But while questions aimed at the Bears travel schedule and jet lag issues have clearly become annoying to players and head coach Lovie Smith, it remained the main topic of conversation before practice, even overshadowing the importance of Sunday's meeting with NFC opponent Tampa Bay.

Smith, however, continued to stress the business trip mentality the Bears brought overseas.

"In the early part of our season, we have a lot of NFC opponents, so this is a big game for us," Smith said. "Tampa Bay has had an excellent season so far at 4-2. That head-to-head competition always means something at the end. We plan being in it, of course. The leader of our division (Green Bay) is sitting in pretty good shape (6-0), so this is a big game for us."

Smith said the Bears will have a curfew Friday and Saturday night, and that Saturday afternoon is the time for players to see the sights if they choose.

Just don't expect to see Brian Urlacher checking out London Tower or Big Ben.

"No," Urlacher said when asked if he'll hit the town this weekend. "I plan to sit in my room and relax. I don't plan to do anything."

On the other end of the spectrum is fellow linebacker Lance Briggs, who clearly sounded the most enthusiastic about playing Week 7 abroad.

"I feel great, I feel great right now," Briggs said. "I was a little bit tired when I got off the plane and went right into meetings. But I had me a cup of 'Joe and I'm ready to go."

"Probably tomorrow when we have that block of time off I'll go see some sights," Briggs said. "Maybe some fish and chips and stuff like that."

Briggs, Urlacher and quarterback Jay Cutler provided the television crews with some enjoyable material as the three took turns playing cricket before practice began. But the moment was fleeting, as the media were promptly escorted out of the stadium once the team concluded its pre-practice stretch. That's the typcial routine the Bears follow at Halas Hall, which underscores the whole theme of trying to make this week seem normal for the players.

"We made all of our corrections and stuff back in Chicago," Bears receiver Devin Hester said. "Now we just are going to head out here and have a light walk-through. We'll be ready to play,"