NFC North: James Anderson
-- ESPNChicago.com’s Jeff Dickerson puts out his latest edition of Stock Watch, and finally a Bears defensive player makes the cut in linebacker James Anderson.
Dickerson writes this about Anderson: The veteran strongside linebacker recorded a team-high and season-best 14 tackles in the win against the Browns. Anderson, along with rookie middle linebacker Jon Bostic (eight tackles), were around the football much of the afternoon. The past couple of months have not been easy for Anderson. With veterans Lance Briggs and D.J. Williams unavailable because of injuries, Anderson was thrust into the leadership role at linebacker, playing alongside rookies Bostic and Khaseem Greene.
-- Want an idea of how the playoffs will pan out? Well, you can plug in your scenarios in the ESPN.com Playoffs Machine and get all the information you’re looking for. Check it out here.
-- Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune outlines how Bears receiver Earl Bennett can earn back some of the money he lost from taking a $1 million pay cut earlier in the season. Bennett has caught touchdown passes in back-to-back games, and has a legitimate chance to make back all the money he was scheduled to earn if he comes up with 10 more catches over the next two games.
-- CSNChicago.com took the time to run down the tweets of Bears players reacting to the 61-yard field goal nailed by Justin Tucker that knocked Detroit out of first place in the NFC North and gave Chicago control of its own postseason destiny.
Coming into Monday night's game McClellin had 3 career sacks, before matching that number against the Packers.
More ribbing: Rookie middle linebacker Jonathan Bostic sports a long goatee, and as he stood in front of his locker, fellow rookie Kyle Long joked about the facial hair being made of Velcro.
Meanwhile veteran linebacker James Anderson said Bostic played well “by the hair on his chinny chin chin.”
Bostic finished the game with four tackles, and spent some time after the game speaking with Anderson in depth about how to defeat blocks from centers. Anderson to Bostic explained the importance of attacking the edge of the blocker as opposed to striking him down the middle.
Emery makes the rounds: General manager Phil Emery could be heard saying “it feels good” as he walked through a celebratory locker room patting players on the back headed toward the team's buses.
It's your birthday: Cornerback Tim Jennings strolled through the locker room and alerted anybody within earshot about the 31st birthday of return man Devin Hester. Jennings said he bought Hester a watch for his birthday, and later joked, “Yeah, right.”
Hester racked up 113 return yards on four kickoffs and a punt return. Hester's longest return of the day was a 29-yard kickoff return.
“James has done it this week so far and it’s looked good,” Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker said on Thursday. “He’s done it before. [Rookie middle linebacker] Jon [Bostic] will also have a role in it, helping us get lined up. So we won’t have any issues getting lined up.”
An eight-year NFL veteran, Anderson has proven to be one of the defense’s most consistent performers after the club signed him to a one-year deal in the offseason. Anderson is currently third on the team with 54 tackles. Before arriving in Chicago, Anderson started 53 games for the Carolina Panthers from 2006-2012 -- 43 of those starts occurred over the last three seasons.
“I’m completely comfortable [calling the plays],” Anderson said. “I did it in Carolina so it’s nothing that is new to me. For the most part during the year I’ve been helping Lance make the calls, so it’s not like I’m totally new to the situation.”
Anderson went on to say he embraces the opportunity to call the signals because the act itself makes him a better player.
“I think it helps me to call plays because it reiterates in my mind what the call is and what we are trying to do,” Anderson said. “When I’m telling them what the call is, I’m also telling myself as well.”
This is an important week for Anderson. As the last veteran linebacker standing, until Briggs returns, he will be responsible for properly aligning the defense against one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL: Aaron Rodgers. The No. 1 career passer in terms of quarterback rating (105.2) in NFL history, Rodgers is having another All-Pro caliber year in 2013, completing 167 of 249 passes for 2,191 yards and 15 touchdowns with just four interceptions -- 108.0 quarterback rating.
“I don’t think it’s more a teaching role, I think we just have to make sure we improve our communication on the field,” Anderson said. “I just have to make sure I talk to these young guys more on the field so they feel comfortable.”
Privately, Rodgers is likely relishing the chance to face a Bears’ defense without Briggs and with a pair of rookie linebackers (Bostic and Khaseem Greene) in the starting lineup. However, Rodgers downplayed the changes the Bears have undergone this week at linebacker during a conference call on Thursday with members of the Chicago media.
“I’m sure anybody who’s making those calls, regardless of who they put the helmet on, will be ready to go,” Rodgers said. “Those guys have been in that defense for a while so the faces may change, but schematically it’s not going to be a lot of huge changes. It always comes down to execution in these matchups.
It’s been down-to-the-wire games; we’ve gotten the best of them the last few games but we don’t take this game lightly ever.”
Bennett has been banged up for much of the season but has managed to start each of the Bears’ six games. He has faced Washington 10 times in his NFL career, catching 21 passes for 275 yards and two touchdowns.
Defensive tackle Stephen Paea (toe), safety Anthony Walters (hamstring), linebacker James Anderson (back) and safety Major Wright (knee) will be listed as probable for Sunday.
Paea, Walters and Anderson participated fully during Friday’s walk-through, while Wright was limited.
The Bears are eager to get Paea back on the field to help the team’s ailing defensive line. Paea was inactive the last two games but practiced four days this week and is expected to return versus the Redskins at FedEx Field.
Veteran linebacker D.J. Williams suffered a season-ending pectoral injury that will require surgery, and he will be replaced on the Bears’ active roster by practice squad linebacker Jerry Franklin.
Run defense: It’s still a significant issue, and it’s unlikely to get resolved anytime soon given the injury-ravaged state of the defensive line. Injuries to linebackers James Anderson and D.J. Williams further deplete the front seven. New York’s Brandon Jacobs became the third running back to gash the Bears for 100 yards or more, and the Giants averaged 4.7 yards per rush, which put them in manageable situations on third downs. That’s part of the reason New York converted 64 percent of third downs.
It’s not all about passing for Cutler, though. The quarterback’s decision-making is markedly better than in the past, and he’s scorching opponents with sneaky athleticism when the situation calls for it. Cutler has generated a passer rating of 100 or better in two straight games, and he’s now 27-2 (including the postseason) when his passer rating is 100 or better.
Third-down conversions: On the flip side of Cutler’s improved play is the fact the Bears struggled with consistency on third down against a horrid Giants defense. Make no mistake about it: a 45 percent conversion rate for the game is winning football. But the Bears moved the chains on 2-of-3 third-down attempts in the first half. Then, nursing a 24-14 lead to start the second half, they converted just 3-of-8.
Injuries: Let’s face it, the Bears lack the cap space to try to fix the injury situation by adding or making trades for players. So they’ve got to work with what they’ve got, which won’t be an easy feat and might require some creativity on the part of the coaching staff. In addition to the injuries to Anderson and Williams, the Bears played without cornerback Charles Tillman (groin and knee) and nose tackle Stephen Paea (turf toe). It’s likely all but Williams (who will miss the rest of the season with a torn pectoral muscle) will be available for next Sunday’s game against the Redskins. But all the replacement players such as defensive tackles Landon Cohen and David Bass and linebacker Jonathan Bostic need to step up, as do struggling starters such as Julius Peppers and Shea McClellin.
Bears coach Marc Trestman said he speaks every day with general manager Phil Emery about potential additions, but the truth is there’s not much they can do.
“We talk every day at some point in time about where we are, where we're going, how we're going, in terms of improving our football team,” Trestman said. “So that's always a part of really the daily process. We meet twice a week. I stick my head in the door, he does, once a day just to check in and see what we can do to help each other do their jobs.”
CHICAGO -- In the past, clinging to a six-point lead with 5:21 left and the opposing team taking possession at its own 11-yard line, it would have seemed almost certain the Chicago Bears would hold on to win.
Yet that wasn’t the feeling Thursday night at a tense Soldier Field, and likely won’t ever be this season with the way Chicago’s defense continues to struggle.
During that frantic sequence, New York Giants running back Brandon Jacobs broke loose for 14 yards on first down. Three plays later, Eli Manning hit Hakeem Nicks for an 11-yard gain. Two more running plays picked up 25 yards, and by the 2:02 mark, the Giants had advanced all the way to the Chicago 35.
“It wasn’t pretty out there,” said cornerback Tim Jennings, arguably the game’s most valuable player. He preserved Chicago’s 27-21 victory with an interception at the Bears' 10-yard line with 1:54 remaining, and he had put a touchdown on the board in the first quarter with a 48-yard interception return.
“We got off to a fast start. We didn’t finish strong, though. We’ve got to go back and figure it out. We didn’t play well. Of course we’re happy with the win. But just going back and watching, it’s not going to be a pretty thing to watch. It’s a learning tool. We’ll get something out of it.”
The Bears certainly need to.
Chicago captured its 10th consecutive victory in a game in which it scored a defensive touchdown. Since 2005, the Bears are 24-2 when they score on defense. It's an impressive statistic. But the primary objective on defense is to stop the opponent from scoring -- something Chicago hasn’t done all season.
The Bears are allowing 26.8 points per game, and haven’t yet limited an opponent to fewer than 21 points. Since 2010, the Bears are 15-6 when they hold teams to 17 points or fewer. During that span, when they allow 18 points or more the Bears are 18-15.
“Our guys, we missed some tackles,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said. “We didn’t make some plays, certainly, we need to make down the road here.”
Jacobs finished the game with 106 yards and two touchdowns, marking the third time an opponent rushed for 100 yards or more against the Bears.
The Giants came into the game with the NFL’s lowest conversion percentage (26.2) on third down, yet skyrocketed that number up to 64 percent against the Bears. Manning completed four passes for gains of 20 yards or more, including two connections for 30-plus yards.
“We’ve got to work on third downs,” Bears linebacker Lance Briggs said. “Third downs have been the bane of our defense this year.”
Chicago’s starting front four featured defensive end Corey Wootton inside at tackle alongside Landon Cohen, who joined the team on Sept. 29, as well as defensive ends Julius Peppers and Shea McClellin.
By the time the Giants attempted to mount their late rally, the Bears had already lost two more starters: linebackers in D.J. Williams (chest) and James Anderson (back)
“You’re right about these injuries,” safety Major Wright said. “But it’s the NFL? What do you expect?”
Obviously not what observers in the past had become accustomed to from a Bears defense in a crucial situation with advantageous field position. But in the end, Chicago’s defense found a way to seal the victory thanks to two interceptions from Jennings and another from Zack Bowman, who filled in for Tillman.
“We want to be out there on that field around that time,” Wright said. “We’ve got some special players, and any time during a game, we can get a turnover -- by anybody. We knew something was gonna happen, and it was Tim.”
But the truth is, the Bears can’t always rely on that.
Push-broom mustache: Bears tackle Kyle Long grew a mustache that resembled the business end of a push broom for the game in honor of defensive tackle Nate Collins, who suffered a torn ACL and is out for the season. “The mustache, it represents the sorrow I feel for not being able to see my buddy Nate Collins on the field every day,” Long said. “I’ve spoken to him in regards to the facial hair, and he likes it and he appreciates it.” Long considers Collins a brother. His actual brother, Chris Long, a defensive end for the St. Louis Rams, is Collins’ best friend. Chris and Collins were roommates at the University of Virginia.
Added message: Typically, the last two words on the dry-erase board in the locker room are “Bear Down.” That message was again there Thursday, followed by “Be a Monster.”
Is he just acting like any other star receiver, or is there reason for concern ahead? Our panel weighs in on that and more:
Fact or Fiction: Brandon Marshall's frustration will become a problem for the Bears.
.Jeff Dickerson: Fact. Marshall seems like the type of player who is only happy when he sees the ball 10-15 times per game. That's probably not going to happen every week because the Bears actually have other people on offense capable of making plays in Alshon Jeffery, Martellus Bennett, Matt Forte, etc. I understand when Marshall says that every legitimate No. 1 wide receiver wants the ball all the time. But Marshall has spent an inordinate amount of time the last couple of days discussing his level of frustration, don't you think? Marshall leads the Bears with 31 catches. He's on pace for 99 receptions. The team is 3-2. So what's the issue? Imagine if Marshall has a couple more average games by his standards. What's going to happen then? Marshall also wants a new contract, which further complicates the matter. Unless the Bears start ripping off victories, this might not end well. And even if the Bears win games, Marshall had better get his targets. That's been made abundantly clear.
Jon Greenberg: Fact. But it's not because of the news conferences. Marshall admitted that the real battle is not letting his frustrations affect his play. If he's dropping passes because his mind isn't into it, then it's a major problem for the Bears. Marshall seems to recognize that. For all the criticism he gets for courting media attention, he seems to have a good read on his own feelings and how to control them. Now it's up to him to make himself more "quarterback friendly," as he says, and limit his internal distractions.
Bush fumbled the play before and the ball was recovered by Detroit receiver Calvin Johnson, extending the Lions drive with 2:52 remaining in the first half.
The Lions went to the line on the next play, calling another handoff to Bush. Quarterback Matthew Stafford was in shotgun with Bush a step behind him and to his right. Center Dominic Raiola saw something in the Chicago defense that told him to make a call with his veteran left guard, Rob Sims.
“I saw a weak dog and I saw a nickel coming off the edge,” Raiola said. “We said all week we wanted to hit one right into the mouth of their blitz and that’s really what it was.
Raiola told Sims to engage the defensive end, Julius Peppers. In doing so -- and getting a good push on Peppers out to the left, he almost made it appear as if he and left tackle Riley Reiff were doubling Peppers on the snap.
They weren’t, as Reiff’s man, linebacker James Anderson, blitzed far on his side. This opened up the first part of a massive hole for Bush, who by the time he reached the line of scrimmage had almost the entire width between the hashmarks to run through and make his initial cut.
In the pre-snap, Bears defensive tackle Nate Collins was initially lined up right over Raiola, but on the snap he slid over to engage right guard Larry Warford. Warford sealed Collins away from the hole.
This allowed Raiola a clean path to the second level, where he was able to block linebacker Lance Briggs.
“We were working on that,” Sims said. “We knew they were going to try and slant Julius and we just, Dom made a good call. Dom told me to go out to (Peppers) and I did and we caught them in it.
“That’s the thing with them, they are really good at moving and when you can catch them in it, you can make some hay. And Reggie don’t need much.”
Bush had a wide open lane to run through. He ran almost right at the Raiola-Briggs block before cutting back to the right side and into the second and third levels of the defense.
It appeared as if defensive end Cornelius Washington was the man who was supposed to mark up Bush at the snap, but he was on the edge of the defense and looked like he hesitated on the snap out of the backfield and ended up chasing Bush from behind. He had a chance to tackle him, but missed.
Then Bush made another quick cut right and -- this is really what made the run -- jumped over a diving Major Wright. Had Wright kept his feet, he would have had a better shot at the Detroit running back.
Once Bush made that move, he had one more assist. Wide receiver Ryan Broyles put a good seal block on Chicago cornerback Tim Jennings to give Bush a deep crease in the secondary.
Jennings would end up almost catching up to Bush, but those few extra strides helped turn the play into a touchdown.
“A sweet run,” Stafford said. “It was a play that honestly we had been working on in practice all week knowing they were going to blitz us, which they always do.
“Instead of getting out of it, just running right into it. Dom made a great call up front, (Brandon) Pettigrew had a great block to seal off the back side and let Reggie do the rest.”
Letting Bush do the rest is becoming a common theme for the Lions these days. Detroit’s offensive line had done such a good job against Chicago on Sunday, the 37-yard touchdown was merely one of the big runs Bush was able to find.
The touchdown was the longest run of the day for Bush, who had four rushes of 14 yards or more and 139 yards overall.
“Reggie Bush is special,” Wright told reporters after the game. “He has speed. He can shake you. He can do everything.”
1. Jay Cutler led in crunch time. Cutler made his share of mistakes on Sunday, but he managed to shake them off and guide the Bears 66 yards down the field in 3:05 to score the game-winning touchdown on a 16-yard pass to tight end Martellus Bennett. Cutler went 7 for 10 on the drive, but keep in mind he had to spike the ball to kill the clock and that his first pass of the drive bounced off an official standing in the middle of the field in front of intended target Alshon Jeffery (another incomplete pass to Jeffery got wiped out by a holding penalty). This is why the Bears traded for Cutler four years ago: to win games. When the chips were down, the quarterback stayed calm, put the team on his shoulders and led them to a come-from-behind victory in the closing minutes of an important game. What an encouraging start to the season for Cutler in a contract year.
2. Turnovers keep inferior teams in games. Now for the bad part: The Bears almost handed the game to Minnesota -- literally. It’s hard to win when a team commits four turnovers. The Bears were able to survive versus the Vikings, but next time they probably won’t be so lucky. In the span of a little more than three minutes in the second quarter, Cutler was sacked and fumbled the ball, which Minnesota returned for a touchdown, and threw an interception in the end zone on first-and-goal from the Vikings’ 1-yard line that killed a prime scoring chance. Cutler later tossed a pick on a deep ball to Brandon Marshall, and Matt Forte had the ball ripped away at the end of a run. Both of those turnovers came in the fourth quarter. Throw in a special-teams breakdown on Cordarrelle Patterson’s 105-yard touchdown return on the opening kickoff, and the Bears have plenty of mistakes to correct going into their Week 3 game at Pittsburgh. That should prevent the team from feeling too good about themselves this week in practice.
3. Devin Hester is again ridiculous. People snickered at the positive reviews Hester received from observers during training camp, but even the most anti-Hester fans have to admit he ran with a purpose on Sunday, returning five kickoffs for a career-high 249 yards, with long runs of 76 and 80 yards. The decision to limit Hester to strictly special teams was a brilliant one. He has fresh legs. That’s been obvious since the preseason. But the most important thing with Hester is always his confidence. Ever since he got over the whole ‘I want to retire’ drama at the end of last season, Hester has been walking tall with his head held high. When Hester feels good about himself, he’s dangerous. Don’t be surprised to see his success in the return game snowball over the next couple of weeks. That’s how it goes with Hester.
4. Defense is still searching for an identity. The Bears continue to take the ball away on defense, which is good, but they are simply not generating enough pressure up front. Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder attempted 30 passes and was sacked just once. That’s not good enough. For the second straight week, Pro Bowl defensive linemen Julius Peppers and Henry Melton were non-factors, with a combined three tackles (before the coaches review the film). What’s going on up front? Overall, the Bears surrendered six plays of 20-plus yards against Minnesota after being torched repeatedly by Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green in Week 1. To be fair, the Vikings scored 14 points on Sunday on a fumble return and a kickoff return. But I think we would all agree the defense looks very un-Bears-like to open the regular season.
5. Ponder better than expected. Ponder is still the fourth-best quarterback in the NFC North, but he deserves some credit for almost leading the Vikings to their first win in Chicago since 2007. Ponder completed some key throws late to finish with 227 passing yards, one touchdown and one interception, while also showing no fear running with the football. He took a heck of a hit from Bears linebacker James Anderson near the home team’s sideline in the second half, but at no point did Ponder shy away from the contact. Minnesota is still 0-2 and in deep trouble already with two loses to NFC North teams, but I don’t think Vikings fans will be clamoring for Matt Cassel to start anytime soon. Or at least they shouldn’t be.
“When it comes time for the defense to make a stop or the defense to get a turnover, they do,” Cutler said.
Still, the defense isn't performing at a level it wants to be, but what it did against Minnesota was actually better than things looked. Although the Vikings scored 21 points in the first half, Chicago’s defense was responsible for only one touchdown -- a 20-yard touchdown pass from Christian Ponder to Kyle Rudolph -- because the other two touchdowns came on special teams (a Cordarrelle Patterson kickoff return) and Brian Robison's return of a Cutler fumble.
In the second half, the Bears allowed just nine points on three consecutive possessions, with all three field goals coming from 28 yards out or nearer, meaning the defense tightened up in the red zone.
The defense bailed out Cutler when he threw an interception in the end zone during the second quarter with a Tim Jennings 44-yard interception return for a touchdown. The defense saved the offense again in the fourth quarter with the Bears trailing 27-24, when Matt Forte was stripped by Letroy Guion.
“On the pick [I threw] in the end zone, they turn around and pick-six [by Jennings],” Cutler said. “Then at the end, whenever we fumbled, they got a stop down at the goal line.”
Instead of allowing Minnesota to score a touchdown to put away the game by making the score 34-24 with approximately three minutes remaining, the Bears surrendered just two yards on three plays run from their 6 to force the Vikings to settle for a Blair Walsh 22-yard field goal, which made the score 30-24 with 3:17 left to play.
“That right there was what hurt the most,” Vikings running back Adrian Peterson said. “Being in the red zone and having to settle for three. In those situations offensively, we have to come through and make a big play. We weren’t able to do that today. We do that, we win.”
They didn’t, and lost. Chicago’s defense definitely played a role in that.
Peterson rushed for 100 yards on 26 attempts, but if you subtract the 36-yard run he broke in the second quarter, the running back averaged 2.5 yards on the other 25 carries.
“I think anytime you came out of a game with a win, you did good enough,” middle linebacker James Anderson said. “I don’t think we played it perfect. We’ve got some things we’ve got to correct. We’re improving. We had a good start last week. This week, we took some steps.”
The defense needs to take more. Minnesota converted 44 percent of third downs, and finished 2-for-2 on fourth-down conversions. Although Chicago’s front seven pressured the quarterback at times, it dropped Ponder just once, and he was still able to make several plays with his feet.
“We’re still trying to figure it out. It’s a long year. It’s still early,” Jennings said. “Of course I hate that it seems that we keep letting them (score) 30 points, whatever we gave up last week. It’s too many points. We can just go out there and create the turnovers that we’re able to create, give our offense back the ball, and try to go out each and every week during the week of practice getting better. We’re still trying to figure it out.”
With the stigma of age already hovering over the defense headed into Sunday’s matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals, the Bears currently have seven starters on the roster who will become unrestricted free agents at the end of the season, a group that includes four players age 29 or older.
Riddick posted this Friday on Twitter:
Much incentive for this unit to play well individually and collectively, as it will likely look very different in 2014.— Louis Riddick (@LRiddickESPN) September 6, 2013
Riddick is absolutely correct, and as the season progresses, expect a guessing game to commence regarding which of the pending free agents the Bears might want to keep beyond 2013. It’s also important to take into account pending free agents on offense, such as quarterback Jay Cutler, who could wind up demanding a contract worth in the neighborhood of $18 million per season, depending on how he performs in 2013.
Bears coach Marc Trestman's plan is to pull all of his starters out of the game sometime in the first quarter and then get an extended look at reserve players and those fighting for a spot on the final 53-man roster.
"Jay will play, but he'll play very, very limited (snaps)," Trestman said. "How limited? I don't know. It could be three plays, it could be one play, it could be eight plays. We'll just see how the flow of the game goes. If we go three-and-out, we'll decide if he goes back in for another three. He may not.
"The starters, including Jay, if they’re going to play it will be minimally in this first game."
Wide receiver Earl Bennett (concussion) and linebacker D.J. Williams (calf) already have been ruled out for the Carolina game, while defensive end Julius Peppers (excused the last two days/hamstring) and offensive tackle Jonathan Scott also seem likely to miss the opening exhibition game.
Defensive tackle Henry Melton, safety Chris Conte and defensive end Corey Wootton all suffered minor injuries in practice on Wednesday and could be held out for precautionary reasons.
• Don't rule out the possibility of former Jacksonville Jaguars second-round draft choice Eben Britton eventually unseating J'Marcus Webb for the starting right tackle job. Britton, who started 30 games (23 at right tackle, seven at left guard) for the Jaguars from 2009-12, has come on strong after signing a one-year deal with the Bears on April 16.
While everything in the NFL is subject to change, Trestman said he envisions Britton as one of the active offensive linemen on game days in the regular season.
"I think Eben is in the mix of finding where our offensive line will be," Trestman said. "He's in the mix. He's had a very productive camp. He's versatile; he can play just about anywhere we put him, both on the left and right side. And at this point I can say he's definitely involved in being part of this roster -- on a week-to-week basis. The 46-(man active game day roster)."
• Less than 24 hours after Trestman and Bears offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Aaron Kromer told reporters that Bears' defensive linemen are told not to jump in the air and bat down balls thrown by Cutler, the quarterback opened the 11-on-11 portion of practice with, you guessed it, a tipped pass at the line of scrimmage that linebacker James Anderson intercepted.
• No. 2 quarterback Josh McCown continued to build on his strong camp when he zipped a ball in between two defenders in the end zone to tight end Fendi Onobun for a score.
• The next scheduled practice at Olivet Nazarene is Sunday at 3:15 p.m. The Bears' final summer workout on the ONU campus is Tuesday, Aug. 13. The remainder of training camp will then be held at the newly refurbished Halas Hall.
• Receiver Earl Bennett must now follow the NFL's concussion protocol to return to the field. There are four steps, including passing the concussion test, matching up with his baseline test, going through physical activities without symptoms, meeting with the doctors and being cleared by an independent neurologist. He was present on the practice field on Wednesday.