Chicago Bears: Patrick Mannelly
1. Bears seasons continue to unravel in the Metrodome: Fittingly, the Bears' final game in the Metrodome turned out to be a complete disaster. That might sound a bit dramatic, but when you factor in the importance of the game with all the opportunities the Bears were given to win it, this is one of the most painful losses in recent memory. The Bears have won just two games in this old and run-down building since 2002, with several of those defeats altering the outcome of the season -- and that includes Sunday’s overtime thriller. With the Detroit Lions now holding essentially a two-game lead over the Bears in the NFC North with four left to play, you have to wonder if the Bears ruined their chances to make the playoffs. As far as the Bears are concerned, they can’t tear this place down fast enough.
2. Bears' botched overtime field goal attempt: Robbie Gould has made so many clutch kicks for the Bears in his nine-year career that I completely understand why Marc Trestman felt confident with Gould from 47 yards with 4:12 left in overtime. But Trestman’s decision to kick the ball on second-and-7 from the Vikings' 29-yard line was curious. Coaches tend to attempt game-winning kicks before fourth down to guard against a possible bad snap, but the Bears have the best long snapper in the NFL, Patrick Mannelly. So that rationale doesn’t make a ton of sense. Matt Forte was also averaging 5.2 yards per carry on Sunday. Why not hand him the ball a couple of times to give Gould a shorter kick? Forte fumbled the ball last week in the first quarter in St. Louis, but he’s generally pretty careful with the football. In the end, Gould missed the kick. That’s the bottom line. But Trestman had an opportunity to help out one of his players win the game for the team, and he failed to pull the trigger.
Josh McCown did his job: McCown made his share of mistakes versus Minnesota, but he passed for 355 yards and two touchdowns for a 114.9 quarterback rating. That means McCown is 120-of-184 for 1,461 yards, 9 touchdowns and 1 interception on the season. That’s a passer rating of 103.6. I know we mention this every week, but what McCown has done in 2013 is remarkable. It’s a pity the Bears went only 2-2 when McCown started. He played well enough for the team to win every game he appeared in. As McCown gracefully moves aside for Jay Cutler to return, likely next Monday night versus the Dallas Cowboys, one has to marvel at how efficient McCown looked since entering the mix when Cutler tore his groin muscle in Washington. We spent a lot of time in the preseason wondering if Cutler could be the next Rich Gannon, a former quarterback that tasted an inordinate amount of success with Trestman later in his career. This might sound crazy, but maybe the next Rich Gannon is actually McCown. That’s not to say that McCown is a better player than Cutler, but you have to wonder what McCown, 34, could accomplish with a full season running this system.
4. Defense played hard; results were the same: The Bears' defense showed some fight on Sunday, aggressively stacking the box in an attempt to slow down Minnesota’s star tailback, Adrian Peterson. Strong safety Craig Steltz, who filled in for the injured Major Wright, made several key stops and led the team with 12 tackles, while Julius Peppers ignited the pass rush with 2.5 sacks. The return of nose tackle Stephen Paea and the debut of defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff seemed to help the defensive line, but in the end, Peterson still rushed for 211 yards and veteran reserve quarterback Matt Cassel came off the bench to pass for 243 yards and one touchdown. Individual improvements are great, but collectively, it was the same old story for the Bears on defense.
5. Alshon Jeffery is in rare company: Outside of Matt Forte in 2008, Jeffery is the Bears’ best offensive draft choice since the 1980s produced the likes of running back Neal Anderson, left tackle Jimbo Covert and quarterback Jim McMahon. Bears general manager Phil Emery hit a home run when he moved up in the second round to grab Jeffery out of South Carolina in 2012. Jeffery broke his own single-game franchise record for receiving yards with 249 on 12 catches, including two impressive touchdown receptions. Jeffery is now over 1,000 receiving yards on the season. He has some of the strongest hands in the NFL. He can do it all. The future seems full of all kinds of exciting possibilities for the Bears and Jeffery in this offense.
Week 13 Report Card: Minnesota Vikings 23, Chicago Bears 20
Despite hyperextending his right knee in last week's loss to the St. Louis Rams, Matt Forte rushed for 120 yards on 23 attempts and became the Bears' second career all-time leader in yards from scrimmage. Michael Bush even made the most of his lone rushing attempt by gaining 15 yards. However, the Bears are still having a difficult time in short-yardage situations and were just 2-of-11 on third downs versus the Vikings.
Josh McCown didn't play his best game of the season, but he finished with 355 passing yards, two touchdowns and a quarterback rating of 114.9. He was lucky not to have a couple of throws picked up. Alshon Jeffery broke his own franchise record with 249 receiving yards on 12 catches, two for touchdowns. There wasn't a ton of production after Jeffery, with Brandon Marshall finishing second on the team with four receptions for 45 yards.
The Bears sold out to stop Adrian Peterson, especially safety Craig Stetlz -- who recorded a team-high 12 tackles in place of injured starter Major Wright -- but Peterson still crushed the Bears with 211 rushing yards. Bears defenders appeared to be in the correct spot for most of the game, but their tackling was subpar. Wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson gashed the defense for a 33-yard touchdown run, on which both Steltz and linebacker Khaseem Greene had legitimate shots to bring him down but came up empty.
Under no circumstances should Matt Cassel be allowed to enter the game and pass for 243 yards and one touchdown. The Bears had success rushing the quarterback with five sacks, but veterans Greg Jennings, John Carlson and Jerome Simpson had too much room to operate on numerous occasions. Maybe the worst thing to happen to the Bears was Christian Ponder leaving the game with a concussion.
Robbie Gould is basically automatic from almost any range, but he missed a potential game-winning, 47-yard field goal in overtime, although Marc Trestman made a curious decision to kick it on second down instead of trying to run more plays to give Gould a shorter kick. Devin Hester had an impressive 57-yard kickoff return at the end of regulation, but his decision-making was suspect for most of the afternoon. Punter Adam Podlesh had a 33.7-yard net average. The Bears kicked the ball away from Patterson the entire afternoon, a sound strategy.
Again, it's tough to understand Trestman's decision to attempt the overtime field goal on second down. Forte was averaging 5.2 yards per carry, and the Bears have the luxury of the best long snapper in the NFL, Patrick Mannelly, on the roster. The odds of the Bears screwing up on second or third downs seem remote. Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker definitely set a more aggressive tone with his unit, but the results were largely the same.
“It’s like having a flat tire,” Paea said about the bad toe. “Imagine having to drive on a flat tire.”
Paea will continue to rest and receive treatment on the toe, but he’s unsure how long he’s going to be sidelined.
“It’s just frustrating right now,” Paea said. “It’s the same exact thing injury. I just re-aggravated it. The field was kind of wet (Sunday), so that (probably helped cause) it.”
With Paea down for at least a week, the Bears are expected to welcome back defensive end Shea McClellin (hamstring). McClellin participated fully in practice the entire week and is listed as probable.
Also probable for the Rams game: long-snapper Patrick Mannelly (calf) and right tackle Jordan Mills (quadriceps).
Safety Craig Steltz (concussion) is questionable, and had limited participation in practice on Friday.
Quarterback Jay Cutler (ankle), linebacker Lance Briggs (shoulder) and defensive tackle Jay Ratliff (groin) were all ruled out for Week 12. However, Ratliff practiced Friday (limited participation) and might be ready to make his Bears’ debut in Week 13.
The Bears' roster stands at 52 players (53 is the max). The open roster spot could be used to elevate a defensive back off the practice squad if Steltz is inactive on Sunday.
“Shea practiced full today so we feel good about that,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said. “[We feel good about] getting some people back. Isaiah worked noncontact [drills] today and was limited.”
Right tackle Jordan Mills (quadriceps) and long-snapper Patrick Mannelly (calf) also practiced without restrictions.
Safety Craig Steltz (concussion) and defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff were limited. Trestman effectively ruled out Ratliff for the Rams game, but Steltz appears to be making progress after being on the wrong end of a nasty collision while covering a kickoff last week versus the Baltimore Ravens.
Starting defensive tackle Stephen Paea (toe) missed practice for the second consecutive day and is unlikely to play Sunday in St. Louis.
The Bears officially ruled out weakside linebacker Lance Briggs (shoulder) and quarterback Jay Cutler (ankle) earlier in the week, but Cutler seems to be on the mend. The quarterback attended practice again Thursday without a hard cast on his left leg to protect his high-ankle sprain. Cutler simply wore a brace on the ankle and stood on the field for much of the workout that is open to the media.
Trestman was asked if Cutler is permanently out of the hard cast.
“I really don’t have an answer for you,” Trestman said. “It’s really a week-to-week thing. Really, on the cast or the brace he has, it might be a day-to-day thing. But I’m really not any more informed than that. Other than that, I know Jay is going to be week-to-week. I said day-to-day [Wednesday]; I meant week-to-week. … And we’ll see where he is. You see him in practice. You’re getting a good idea of where he’s at. You see him moving around, trying to move around during the individual periods that you’re out there to see and get a good idea of where he’s at. And hopefully he won’t have to have the cast put on.”
“Isaiah’s got a fracture in his hand,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said. “He’s got it casted up. It looks good. It looks like they’ll be able to cast it up [Sunday]. We’ll know more tomorrow. We’re really optimistic on his end.
Selected by the Bears in the sixth round of the 2012 draft, Frey emerged as the team’s No. 1 nickelback when veteran Kelvin Hayden suffered a season-ending injury in the preseason. Frey is seventh on the team with 32 tackles, even though he comes off the field when the Bears play their base 4-3 defense.
In other injury hews, defensive end Shea McClellin participated fully on Wednesday and is on track to return to the field Sunday after sitting out the last two games with a pulled hamstring. McClellin hurt the hamstring at practice the week after being named NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his three-sack performance in Green Bay on Nov. 4.
“I feel good,” McClellin said. “I feel 100 percent and ready to get back out there and help the guys out.
“It was pretty disappointing [to miss two games]. But it’s part of the game. Things happen. And you’ve just got to adjust. Sitting out is terrible. It's the worst thing. You just want to be out there with the guys helping out, especially if they're not doing too good. It's hard to watch what they're doing.”
Defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff (groin) practiced on a limited basis Wednesday for the first time since he signed with the Bears on Nov. 2. The four-time Pro Bowler has not played in a game since last November, when he suffered a groin injury that eventually required sports-hernia surgery.
However, despite Ratliff’s apparent progress, the veteran defensive lineman will not be physically ready to make his Bears debut this Sunday against St. Louis, according to Trestman.
“Ratliff got some work; he’ll be a week-to-week thing,” Trestman said. “He got some reps in practice. It was good to see him out there moving around. I would not say [his debut] will be this Sunday, and we’ll re-evaluate it next week. To be fair with the situation, I’d say we are still a little bit away [from Ratliff playing].”
Trestman calls defensive tackle Stephen Paea (toe) “very questionable” to face St. Louis. Paea re-injured the toe that forced him to miss two games in early November; he did not practice on Wednesday.
Long-snapper Patrick Mannelly (calf) practiced without restrictions, while right tackle Jordan Mills was limited with a sore quadriceps. Safety Craig Steltz (concussion) was held out of practice but was able to do some conditioning work on the side.
Other Bears inactives include quarterback Jay Cutler, linebacker Lance Briggs, long snapper Patrick Mannelly, offensive lineman James Brown, offensive tackle Jonathan Scott and defensive tackle Jay Ratliff.
Ravens inactives include defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, receiver Marlon Brown, safety Omar Brown, running back Bernard Scott, receiver Brandon Stokley, offensive lineman Ryan Jensen and linebacker John Simon.
Bennett rested his sore ankle on Thursday, but returned to the field in limited fashion on Friday.
“He (Bennett) worked probably 50 percent of the practice,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said. “We were trying to be smart with him, but he got work in today and did well. Hopefully with 48 hours (until kickoff on Sunday) he’ll feel even better. But we got some execution done with him, so it was good.”
Bennett has battled through nagging injuries much of the season, but has still managed to start all nine games and catch 40 passes for 421 yards and four touchdowns.
McClellin was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his three-sack performance against the Green Bay Packers on Nov. 4, but he tweaked his hamstring at practice last Thursday and was inactive for the Bears’ Week 10 loss to the Detroit Lions on Sunday.
McClellin worked on the side with the training staff the past three days during practice but did not officially participate.
In other injury news, linebacker Lance Briggs (shoulder), quarterback Jay Cutler (ankle) and defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff (groin) were all ruled out for Sunday.
The Bears believe Ratliff will be in a position to contribute sometime in the next couple of weeks. The veteran defensive tackle participated in conditioning drills on Friday while his teammates practiced. Ratliff has not played in an NFL game since last November as a member of the Dallas Cowboys.
The Bears also list long-snapper Patrick Mannelly (calf) as doubtful and right guard Jordan Mills (quad) as probable.
“The doctors and the trainers talked about just making sure that it’s stabilized,” Trestman said Thursday. “It wasn’t swollen after the game [on Sunday]. It was swollen certainly on Monday, and they just wanted to make sure it was stabilized. That’s really the only thing I know about it at this time. It is a hard cast.”
In other injury news, tight end Martellus Bennett (ankle) didn’t participate in Thursday’s practice inside the Walter Payton Center, but Trestman said the team is “hopeful that a day off the ankle will give him a little relief, and he’ll be back at it.” Long-snapper Patrick Mannelly (calf) also missed practice, and is considered week-to-week in his recovery.
Trestman said that defensive end Shea McClellin (hamstring) “worked with trainers today” and that defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff “worked on the side, but not in the practice.” Rookie right tackle Jordan Mills took limited repetitions during Thursday’s session due to “a little bit of a quad.” Ratliff isn't expected to play this week, and it's unclear whether McClellin will recover enough to be able to contribute in Sunday's game. Mills isn't expected to miss time.
As for Cutler, the quarterback remains “week to week,” according to Trestman. But Cutler has spent his days of inactivity working with Josh McCown and Trestman to ensure the backup quarterback plays at his best Sunday when the Bears host the Baltimore Ravens.
“He’s in every meeting,” offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer said. “He comes to the extra protection meetings to make sure he knows who we’re picking up in blitzes. He’s at every quarterback meeting. He’s in practice. He’s helping Josh. You saw him on the sideline in Green Bay. He’s helping coach. He’s not missing a rep, other than physical.”
Cutler is expected to test out his injured groin muscle on the practice field on Thursday to give the Bears an idea of where he is at physically in regards to potentially starting at quarterback Sunday versus the Detroit Lions.
In other injury news, linebacker Lance Briggs (shoulder), defensive tackle Jay Ratliff (groin) and long snapper Patrick Mannelly (calf) would not have participated on Wednesday.
Mannelly is considered week-to-week and is not expected to be active this weekend, while Ratliff told ESPN 1000’s “Waddle and Silvy Show” on Monday that he is still “a couple of weeks” away from returning from his injury.
Linebacker Blake Costanzo (back), tight end Dante Rosario (ankle) and cornerback Charles Tillman (knee) were also listed as being limited.
Mannelly, the Bears all-time leader in games player with 239, left Lambeau Field Monday night in a walking boot and is considered "week-to-week" and could be out "a couple weeks", according to Bears head coach Marc Trestman.
"It doesn't look good for this week," Trestman said.
Cain, 33, originally entered the NFL with the Bears in 2004, but spent the last four seasons as the long snapper for the Jacksonville Jaguars (2009-2012) before losing his job this preseason. Cain worked with current Bears special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis and punter Adam Podlesh in Jacksonville.
Bears general manager Phil Emery described Mannelly, a team captain and locker room leader, as “one of the eight wonders of the world” at a recent press conference. Mannelly has missed only nine games over his decorated career in Chicago.
The Bears also made their signing of veteran defensive tackle Jay Ratliff official on Wednesday.
Offensive captains for the Bears include quarterback Jay Cutler and center Roberto Garza, while the defense is represented by linebacker Lance Briggs and defensive end Julius Peppers. Long-snapper Patrick Mannelly represents the club’s special-teams units.
Chicago’s five captains own a combined 55 years of NFL experience and 16 Pro Bowl selections.
“I know we have a huge season ahead of us, and not really knowing when I was going to start feeling better exactly, it was a little nerve-wracking,” Melton said. “But finally, the clouds cleared.”
Melton and Bennett took part in Monday’s workout, as did all of the club’s other previously injured players such as offensive tackle Jonathan Scott (knee), linebacker D.J. Williams (calf), and long snapper Patrick Mannelly (ribs).
Bennett suffered a concussion on Aug. 3 during a practice at Soldier Field, which forced him to sit out the entire preseason and every practice since. Bennett’s inactivity has led to concerns about his conditioning. Although Bennett plans to play Sunday against the Bengals, Bears coach Marc Trestman said that “it might not be plausible for him to play” because of the conditioning concerns.
“We’ll see how he looks during the course of the week. He ran well today. He was involved in reps. Obviously he hasn’t had the practice time or the conditioning level right now. So it’s plausible [that Bennett won’t play]. I don’t want to say unlikely because I don’t know how the week’s going to go,” Trestman said. “But it’s plausible he could be out on Sunday. It’s possible that he could be up. We’ll just see how the rest of the week goes. We’ve got another day off. He’s got three days of work ahead. We’ll see how all that fits together come Sunday.”
If Bennett doesn’t play, it’s likely that rookie Marquess Wilson or Joe Anderson would line up as the third receiver.
“Actually, I’m pretty good conditioning-wise,” Bennett said. “I’ve been up here running -- shoulder pads, helmets -- the past few days, just making sure that I’m in great shape. I’m very eager. I’m excited to be back. Excited to get back to work, and continue to work hard. Like I said, my plan is to play this week, so I look forward to this game.”
Melton does, too. Melton suffered his concussion in the preseason opener at Carolina on Aug. 9.
“They’ve been working me pretty hard all through the weekend, trying to get me back,” Melton said. “I’m feeling good. I went out there and ran a little bit.”
Scott, meanwhile, has been recovering from a minor procedure on his right knee, but practiced Monday for the first time since training camp in what he called a “limited” workout. A reserve offensive tackle, Scott said his expectation is to play against the Bengals if needed.
“Physically and emotionally I’ve been dying to be out here with this team and get after it,” Scott said. “I’m just happy to be in the position to play again.”
Melton and Bennett attended the session inside the Walter Payton Center during the portion of practice open to the media, but it appears neither has been cleared to return to activity. Considering the starters aren’t likely to play much, if any, during the preseason finale against Cleveland on Thursday, there’s no rush for Melton and Bennett to return to the field.
“Henry is into (the) running (phase of the concussion protocol). Earl is day-to-day. I know (Bennett) was with some of the medical people this morning, I haven’t checked," Trestman said. "Henry ran today. He’s going to run tomorrow and Wednesday and pick up that running significantly. That’s where he is at this point."
The Bears have already begun preparations for the regular-season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sept. 8, and the week leading into that outing would seem to be the target date for Melton and Bennett to rejoin the team for workouts.
As the club’s franchise player, Melton has already solidified his status as a starter. Bennett, meanwhile, is competing with Joe Anderson, Eric Weems, Terrence Toliver and rookie Marquess Wilson for one of the receiver spots behind Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. Bennett hasn’t practiced with the team since suffering the concussion on Aug. 3 at Soldier Field after a hard hit from safety Chris Conte.
Melton suffered his concussion in the first game of the preseason at Carolina.
In other injury news, the team held out quarterback Matt Blanchard (hand), linebacker D.J. Williams (calf), offensive tackle Jonathan Scott (knee), defensive tackle (Corvey Irvin) (ankle), cornerback Zack Bowman (hamstring) and linebacker J.T. Thomas (hamstring).
The projected starter at middle linebacker, Williams hasn't yet played in a preseason game, but he's into the running phase of his rehabilitation.
"If you saw him at the (Oakland) game, he was out working at the game," Trestman said. "He's day-to-day, but we'll see where it goes. We're optimistic he's gonna be close (to fully healthy by opening day). It's still day-to-day, but there is progress."
With Williams out of action, rookie second-round pick Jonathan Bostic has filled in at middle linebacker and put together some solid performances throughout the preseason. Still, Trestman wasn't ready to declare Bostic the starter in the middle.
"I am not going to use that term "starting middle linebacker,"" Trestman said. "He has started in the last couple games, and I think he has continued to grow and get better, and (has) shown he can be a very good player in this league. I think he's getting better. He is fitting in. If he happens to be the guy who is that guy Game 1 or Game 2, or whatever it is, I think he can grow into the position and be a more than sufficient middle linebacker in this league."
In other news, fullback Harvey Unga (ribs), defensive end Cheta Ozougwu (hamstring), and long snapper Patrick Mannelly returned to the practice field Monday after missing last week’s game at Oakland.
However, Melton and Bennett have still not passed the NFL concussion protocol to return to action, and therefore both continue to be off-limits to the media, per league rules.
While veteran Nate Collins has elevated his game filling in for Melton at defensive tackle, the picture at the No. 3 wide receiver spot is cloudier with Bennett out. Wideouts Joe Anderson, Marquess Wilson, Eric Weems, Terrence Toliver and Devin Aromashodu have all been given an opportunity to run with the first and second teams in recent weeks, but quarterback Jay Cutler said on Tuesday that he has no input on which specific player would fill the void left by Bennett if his absence continues to drag on.
"They don't give me an opinion so we'll see who they throw in there," Cutler said. "We'll see who Marc (Trestman), Phil (Emery) and those guys like. Whoever is out there I trust that they can get the job done."
In other injury news, quarterback Matt Blanchard (hand), fullback Harvey Unga (rib), defensive end Cheta Ozougwu (hamstring), linebacker D.J. Williams (calf), long snapper Patrick Mannelly (rib), offensive tackle Jonathan Scott (knee) and defensive tackle Corvey Irvin (ankle) were all held out of Tuesday's practice.
The news on Blanchard is encouraging. The second-year quarterback is expected to miss about a month, but could still have a role on the team in 2013 in some capacity. Blanchard also remains eligible for the practice squad.
Coach Marc Trestman was asked on Monday if Bennett had experienced any setbacks since he began to go through the NFL's concussion protocol in order to receive the necessary clearance to resume football-related activities.
"I think he's just in the protocol," Trestman said. "He's at home and there's been no change from Sunday. I always walk in there and check to see where he's at and I generally text him after practice so there's no change from Sunday."
Bennett suffered a concussion last season versus the Seattle Seahawks and had to miss two games.
In other injury news, offensive tackle Jonathan Scott (knee), linebacker D.J. Williams (calf), fullback Harvey Unga (rib), long snapper Patrick Mannelly (rib), defensive tackle Henry Melton (concussion) and running back Armando Allen (hamstring) were all held out of Monday’s session.
Allen’s hamstring injury has been classified as “week-to-week” by the Bears.
Defensive end Cheta Ozougwu also hurt his hamstring and finished practice with his right left wrapped in ice.
Wide receiver Joe Anderson returned to practice after missing time with a bad shoulder, while Corey Wootton (calf) practiced without restrictions after being limited over the weekend. Linebacker Patrick Trahan rejoined the club after being excused on Sunday.