NFL Nation: 2009-10 Regular Season


 
ESPN Chicago Bears reporter Michael C. Wright discusses the cornerback situation after Charles Tillman's injury.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the Chicago Bears' 28-20 win over the San Francisco 49ers.

Brandon Marshall admitted that after a few days of matching up with rookie Kyle Fuller during training camp, the receiver found himself spending time studying the cornerback to find ways to beat him. That’s how much of an impression Fuller had on Marshall. In fact, quarterback Jay Cutler said, “You’d think [Fuller] has been in the league five or six years from the way he carries himself.”

Fuller performed like it against the 49ers, picking off two passes, including the interception that allowed the Bears to pull ahead.

Christmas tree: Tight end Martellus Bennett finished Sunday night with 37 yards receiving on a team-high seven receptions, and joked in the locker room after the game that he was a “true West Coast tight end.” With reserve Matthew Mulligan dressing next to him, Bennett goaded his teammate to explain the tight end’s route tree.

Mulligan refused, joking, “Don’t get him started.”

Turns out, Bennett says his route tree is different than most tight ends in the NFL. He’s got a “Christmas” route tree.

“Other tight ends, their route trees are plastic and come in a box,” Bennett joked. “You’ve got to go out and cut mine down.”

High-fives: Immediately after the locker room opened, Bears general manager Phil Emery could be seen high-fiving players on his way through the room. Emery is usually low key and doesn’t show much excitement, but Sunday night obviously was different.
 
ESPN.com Chicago Bears reporter Michael C. Wright discusses the challenges on the offensive line.

Bears' biggest question mark is defense

September, 3, 2014
Sep 3
10:00
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video
ESPN.com Chicago Bears reporter Michael C. Wright discusses where Chicago needs to improve.
Examining the Chicago Bears' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (3)
Fales looked good in the first half of the preseason finale at Cleveland, but fell off somewhat in the second half. Still, Fales showed enough to prove he belongs. There's still a chance the Bears try to waive Fales and bring him back to the practice squad.

RUNNING BACKS (4)
Senorise Perry and Jordan Lynch made late pushes in extended action to close the preseason, but neither will overtake Draughn and Carey.

RECEIVERS (5)
Josh Bellamy made a strong case to make the team against the Browns, but Holmes showed he's still a dynamic player. In fact, if Holmes grasps the offense quickly enough, he could wind up as the No. 3 receiver, which would mean Wilson's time will have to wait.

TIGHT ENDS (2)

Rosario remains the most well-rounded tight end among the candidates for the No. 2 spot, and should stick.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)

Britton returned to play in the preseason finale and while other players have flashed, the veteran is probably still the most consistent.

DEFENSIVE LINE (10)
Cornelius Washington and David Bass, received extension action against the Browns. The Bears have a tough decision here, but would likely go with Bass' experience.

LINEBACKERS (6)

This group has struggled throughout the preseason, but the team will likely take these players into the regular season. Jerry Franklin remains on the bubble.

CORNERBACKS (6)

The combination of youth and experience makes this position group one of the team's strongest.

SAFETIES (4)

The Bears released Craig Steltz and M.D. Jennings didn't show much in the last preseason game.

SPECIALISTS (4)

The Bears could decide to use Holmes as the return man and make Bellamy the sixth receiver. Initially though, the Bears will probably take a chance on Williams although he missed the majority of the preseason due to a hamstring injury.
 

Chicago's starters received the night off, prompting the club to point the spotlight Thursday night on a group of backups comprised mostly of players not likely to survive final cuts.

Squaring off against Cleveland's starters, the Bears reserves held their own for two quarters in playing to a four-point deficit at the half, before eventually falling to the Browns 33-13.

Here are some other thoughts on the club's final preseason game:
  • Santonio Holmes quashed any question of whether he can still play against the Browns, taking in his only catch of the night from David Fales for a 32-yard touchdown in the second quarter. After hauling in the back-shoulder throw from Fales, Holmes spun outside and eluded Browns first-round pick Justin Gilbert en route to the score. Upon arriving at the sideline, Holmes gave the ball to Fales. “You see the explosion in him,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said. “He caught a short throw, turned and ran, separated from the defense. That's a good sign.” Later in the quarter, Holmes fielded a punt and stumbled between a pair of tacklers to reel off a 30-yard return. It's probably safe to say Holmes' name won't be called for final cuts as the Bears saw what they needed to see. That's probably why Holmes came out after halftime no longer wearing pads. Now, the Bears need to work overtime to get Holmes up to speed to fill the No. 3 receiver role along with Josh Morgan.
  • Speaking of erasing doubts, it appears Fales did just that against the Browns. Starting in place of Jay Cutler, Fales completed 13 of 24 passes for 146 yards and a touchdown to Holmes. Fales made good decisions for the majority of his snaps in the first two quarters. What's more is Fales executed well against Cleveland's starters, as it played mostly first teamers in the first half. Chicago's brass will have a difficult choice to make, and -- depending on how much the team likes Fales -- might be forced to go into the season with three quarterbacks. If the Bears decide to waive Fales and bring him back to the practice squad, that plan could backfire as the quarterback would draw plenty of interest from other teams. Fales led the Bears to scores on three of their five first-half drives, but wasn't as sharp in the second half.
  • Josh Bellamy made Chicago's pending decision about which receivers to keep on the roster more difficult by the way he performed against the Browns. Bellamy caught four passes for 78 yards and drew a 37-yard pass interference penalty against Leon McFadden that provided the bulk of Chicago's yardage during its opening drive, which ended on a Robbie Gould 39-yard field goal.
  • With the regular-season opener against Buffalo on the horizon, the Bears held out the starters on both sides of the ball. The club kept out key reserves as well such as Morgan and Micheal Spurlock, along with running back Ka'Deem Carey, defensive end Trevor Scott, and defensive tackle Ego Ferguson. Second-team guard Eben Britton made his preseason debut against the Browns after missing a good portion of training camp and the preseason with a pulled hamstring. Safety Chris Conte (concussion) traveled with the team, but did not play as he continues to work through the league's concussion protocol.
  • The Bears must trim the roster from 75 players to 53 by Saturday at 3 p.m. CST.
Examining the Chicago Bears' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (3)
If there's a change here, it would only involve the release of Fales because Clausen has earned the No. 2 spot over Jordan Palmer, who was released on Sunday. The team likes Fales as a developmental player.

RUNNING BACKS (4)

Draughn appears to have a firm hold on the No. 2 job, and the Bears released Michael Ford, leaving Carey as the only potential candidate for the backup running back job. Draughn should open the regular season as Forte's backup.

RECEIVERS (5)

Nothing changes here as Morgan showed enough in the preseason to secure a spot. Holmes' superior talent warrants the Bears keeping him around as they continue to look for a temporary replacement for Wilson.

TIGHT ENDS (2)

Rosario remains the most well-rounded tight end among the candidates for the second spot, and none of his competitors have stood out.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (10)

Injuries to De La Puente, Mills and Britton give cause for concern considering none have put in any quality repetitions during preseason games.

DEFENSIVE LINE (9)

The Bears released Nate Collins on Sunday, which could leave an extra spot for either Cornelius Washington or David Bass. If the Bears go with 10 defensive linemen, Bass could make the cut.

LINEBACKERS (6)

This group has struggled throughout the preseason, but the team will likely take these players into the regular season. Jerry Franklin remains on the bubble.

CORNERBACKS (5)

The combination of youth and experience makes this position group one of the team's strongest.

SAFETIES (5)

The Bears released Adrian Wilson, as age and injuries appear to have caught up to him. The Bears probably won't keep five safeties, but if they do, it'll come down to Steltz and M.D. Jennings.

SPECIALISTS (4)

The Bears let go Chad Rempel, which means Hartson probably won the training camp competition. Williams missed the club's last game due to a sore hamstring, and needs to play in the preseason finale to secure a spot.

Bears to ease in Santonio Holmes

August, 20, 2014
Aug 20
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Chicago Bears reporter Michael Wright says Santonio Holmes might not see much playing time against Seattle.

Return of Bennett, Conte helps Bears

August, 13, 2014
Aug 13
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video 
ESPN.com Chicago Bears reporter Michael C. Wright discusses the return of two key players for the Bears.
Examining the Chicago Bears' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (3)

Jimmy Clausen appears to have passed Jordan Palmer, but Bears coach Marc Trestman maintains the situation remains fluid. Fales' delivery looks a bit odd, but he knows where to go with the ball, makes quick decisions and anticipates well. The game wasn't too big for Fales in his NFL debut.

RUNNING BACKS (4)

Local favorite Jordan Lynch probably won't make the 53-man roster, but he's shown he's capable of playing in the NFL. Lynch is probably a practice squad candidate, but other teams could become interested if the former quarterback plays well in the preseason. The team needs to give Ford more reps in its next preseason game.

RECEIVERS (5)

Wilson is expected to miss some time in the regular season, which means players such as Weems, Morgan, and Josh Bellamy have a legitimate shot to win the No. 3 job. Chris Williams suffered a hamstring injury scoring a touchdown in the preseason opener, and it could wind up costing him a job.

TIGHT ENDS (2)

Miller displayed the promise he showed as a rookie in Jacksonville back in 2009, catching six passes for 68 yards and two touchdowns against the Philadelphia Eagles. Miller will likely unseat Dante Rosario, but the Bears could still wind up keeping the latter if they decide to go with three tight ends.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (10)

The newcomers may not have a chance to crack the roster, because the offensive line is deep. Injuries to De La Puente, Mills and Britton have given some of the younger players a shot at more repetitions. But they still won't be able to beat out the proven players already on the roster.

DEFENSIVE LINE (10)

Scott and Lane have come on strongly enough that they could actually become regular contributors in the defensive line rotation.

LINEBACKERS (6)

McClellin continues to struggle, but the coaching staff remains optimistic he'll develop into a starting-caliber strongside linebacker. This entire group struggled in the preseason opener and needs to improve moving forward, because linebacker is a featured position in this revamped scheme.

CORNERBACKS (5)
Isaiah Frey started to make plays at camp, but a hamstring has left him sidelined for the past several practices. Frey was the club's starting nickel corner last season, but may have trouble making the roster if he can't get back out on the field to show what he can do.

SAFETIES (4)

Tough decisions loom at this position. For the past several practices and the preseason opener, Mundy and McCray have worked with the starters. Craig Steltz and Conte are back off the physically unable to perform list. Veteran Adrian Wilson is beginning to look like a long shot to make the roster.

SPECIALISTS (4)

Williams has been solid as a receiver thus far at camp, but a hamstring injury could sink his chances if he doesn't return soon. Besides that, Weems is a proven commodity as a special-teamer.

Wilson injury sparks WR search

August, 6, 2014
Aug 6
10:00
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video
ESPN.com Chicago Bears reporter Michael C. Wright discusses Marquess Wilson's injury situation.

Bears Camp Report: Day 6

July, 31, 2014
Jul 31
4:35
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BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Chicago Bears training camp:
  • Safety Adrian Wilson seems to be gaining a level of comfort in Chicago’s scheme, which in turn has resulted in the veteran playing somewhat faster. But don’t be fooled by Wilson’s seemingly average workout pace as some within the organization believe he’s “practicing like a veteran,” meaning he’s expending as little energy as possible just to make it through camp and into the preseason games. For Wilson, the exhibition games are where he’ll make his mark, and that’s when people within the organization expect the safety to go full bore. Considering he’s currently in a backup role, expect Wilson to receive significant snaps late into the games against mostly backups, and he’ll need to play well -- nearly dominate -- before the staff feels comfortable enough to put him into the mix for one of the starting jobs. The coaching staff hopes Wilson pans out because if he does, it gives the Bears an intimidating force on the back end they haven’t had in several years.
  • The Bears pumped in the music as usual for the individual portions of practice, but when the team simulated some live situations, staffers piped in crowd noise through the public address system. The extra noise didn’t seem to affect execution on either side of the ball.
  • Strangely, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, and Matt Forte seemed to drop more passes in one day Thursday than they had throughout all of training camp. Jeffery and Forte each dropped two passes with the former making up for it by hauling in a long ball late in practice between two defenders. Chris Williams, a candidate to become the club’s primary punt returner and a backup receiver, muffed a punt and also dropped a pass.
  • Despite Marshall's drop, he made perhaps the catch of the day in a goal-line drill. With Demontre Hurst draped all over him, Marshall made a spinning one-handed grab for a touchdown. Marshall receives points for difficulty on this one as he caught the touchdown with his left hand.
  • Just before the start of practice, the Bears announced they signed offensive lineman Graham Pocic to a one-year contract and waived receiver Terrence Tolliver with an injury settlement. Pocic signed with the St. Louis Rams in 2013 as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Illinois.
  • Non-participants at practice Thursday included safeties Craig Steltz (groin) and Chris Conte (shoulder) along with guards Kyle Long and Eben Britton (hamstring). Long has been cleared to return to practice, but won’t be back in pads until the club’s night workout Saturday at Soldier Field. Britton wasn’t on the field with teammates as he spent all of the practice rehabilitating inside with athletic trainers.
  • Jermon Bushrod, Stephen Paea, Austen Lane, and Jordan Mills were the stars of one-on-one drills featuring offensive linemen against defensive linemen. Paea made the most impressive move of the day, using a swim move to blow past Roberto Garza in just one step.
  • The Bears practice again Friday at 9 a.m. CST.

Great expectations for Jared Allen

July, 30, 2014
Jul 30
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video ESPN Chicago Bears reporter Jeff Dickerson says veteran Jared Allen is expected to infuse enthusiasm and leadership to a rebuilt defensive line.
Examining the Chicago Bears' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (3)

Jimmy Clausen continues to gain ground on Jordan Palmer, and appears poised to unseat the him for the No. 2 job behind Cutler. Fales' delivery looks a bit odd, but he knows where to go with the ball, makes quick decisions and anticipates well. Fales needs to throw it downfield more.

RUNNING BACKS (4)

Local favorite Jordan Lynch probably won't make the 53-man roster, but he's certainly flashed early on at camp. Lynch appears to be a practice-squad candidate, but other teams could become interested if the former quarterback plays well in the preseason.

RECEIVERS (5)

Despite the team's high expectations, Wilson has been relatively quiet early on at camp, while Marshall and Jeffery have shown they might finish 2014 as the NFL's top duo at the position. Morgan has made a few plays at camp, as has Weems and Chris Williams, who are both in the mix for roles on special teams as well. The Bears could choose to go with six at this position, and if that's the case, Williams makes the cut if he hasn't already as a special-teamer.

TIGHT ENDS (2)

All the candidates possess different strengths. So it will come down to what the Bears want in a No. 2 tight end. If they want blocking, Matthew Mulligan is the guy. If they want consistency, it's Dante Rosario. If they want a young, all-around player, it's Miller, who still needs to improve as a blocker.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (10)

The team's newcomers at these position will find it difficult to crack the roster, because this group is deep. The starting five from 2013 returns for this season. Brown, Britton and De La Puente are capable of starting

DEFENSIVE LINE (10)

Scott, Lane and Collins will likely push out some of the youngsters, such as Cornelius Washington, who hasn't turned heads during the first week of camp. Scott has been impressive early on at camp, as has Young.

LINEBACKERS (6)
Jordan Senn won't make this team based off special teams alone, and Greene just seems to have a knack for being around the ball and making plays. Besides that, the Bears won't be giving up on the 2013 fourth-rounder because he hasn't given them any reason to.

CORNERBACKS (5)

Now fully healed, Hayden made plays every day in the first week of camp, and is making the evaluation process difficult for the coaching staff, which wants to keep Jennings inside at nickel on sub packages so rookie first-rounder Fuller can get on the field.

SAFETIES (4)

Conte and Craig Steltz remain sidelined, which isn't helping their chances of making the team. But when healthy, Conte -- despite his subpar 2013 season -- is probably the most talented athlete of the position group. It appears the Bears are bringing along Wilson slowly with few reps. The veteran needs to make the most of the few snaps he's been given.

SPECIALISTS (4)

Williams has been solid as a receiver thus far at camp, which might push him ahead of Micheal Spurlock, Armanti Edwards and Josh Bellamy.

Chris Conte could miss part of camp

July, 23, 2014
Jul 23
10:00
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ESPN.com Chicago Bears reporter Michael Wright says veteran Chris Conte could start camp on the physically unable to perform list recovering from shoulder surgery.

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