Bear Essentials

Bear Essentials

Little Weems a big pickup

Posted by Bob LeGere on Tue, 08/21/2012 - 21:48
Unrestricted free agent wide receiver Eric Weems got off to a slow start, suffering a sprained ankle during training camp. But the 5-foot-9 Weems is starting to look like he could be one of the Bears’ biggest off-season additions. Weems missed the preseason opener, but he flashed his overall talent in last Saturday’s second preseason game, catching 2 passes for 38 yards, returning 2 kickoffs for 71 yards and 1 punt for 14 yards. And that was on an ankle that he estimated is still only at about 80 percent. And Weems will contribute heavily even in special teams phases that don’t show up in the box score, which is why special teams coordinator Dave Toub targeted him in the off-season.

Urlacher knee scope provides some clarity

Posted by Bob LeGere on Tue, 08/14/2012 - 13:53
At last, now the Bears know they’re without eight-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker Brian Urlacher for the remainder of the preseason. The on-again, off-again availability of the face of the franchise had left everyone wondering about the severity of his knee, which was originally injured in last year's season finale. Now we know it's bad enough that it required a scope on Tuesday morning, but the hope is that the procedure will allow him to return healthier for the regular season. Urlacher, his teammates and Bears coaches still believe he can return in time for the regular-season opener. There is no guarantee he’ll be 100 percent by then, but many players return in 2-4 weeks from similar minimally invasive surgeries.

Forte should kick start offense

Posted by Bob LeGere on Mon, 08/13/2012 - 22:38
The first thing the Bears’ offense needs to do Saturday against the Redskins is get the running game in gear, and with Matt Forte playing, that’s likely to happen. Everyone’s worried about the pass protection, but Forte’s presence will make pass blocking easier. The Pro Bowl running back didn’t play in the opener because he doesn’t need to, but the offense needs him for balance. “Since we're a running football team yes, we need to (get that going),” coach Lovie Smith said. “Matt Forte will play this week, and we need to get (backup) Michael Bush some quality reps.” Bush only got 3 carries and 2 yards last week.

Urlacher addresses wounded knee

Posted by Bob LeGere on Sun, 08/12/2012 - 14:05
Eight-time Pro Bowl linebacker Brian Urlacher didn’t have a lot of definitive answers about his injured left knee when he finally spoke to the media Sunday afternoon, but he still says he’ll be 100 percent by opening day. “Sept. 9, I’ll be ready to play for sure,” Urlacher said of the season opener against the Colts. “That’s really all that matters to me. Preseason games and all these practices, I’d love to be out there, but I’m not going to put myself in jeopardy of missing the first game.”

Rookie WR Jeffery bears watching

Posted by Bob LeGere on Thu, 08/09/2012 - 12:56
Rookie WR Alshon Jeffery should get a lot of playing time in tonight’s preseason opener, since the starters won’t do much more than break a sweat. He could be one of the young players who are most worth watching vs. the Broncos, especially if he gets a lot of reps against the Broncos’ second- and third-team defenders. Throughout training camp, Jeffery has frequently stood out against the second-team defense, earning some reps with the first team.

Time to worry about Urlacher

Posted by Bob LeGere on Mon, 08/06/2012 - 02:04
Whether the Bears are ready to acknowledge it or not, they must be concerned about the condition of Brian Urlacher’s left knee, which has relegated him to observer for most of the past four practices. The partially torn MCL and PCL that he suffered in the season finale last year prevented him from doing much of anything in the off-season, and not much has changed now that camp has begun. If this were a situation where Urlacher needed to take an occasional day off here and there, no one would raise an eyebrow. But four straight days? That’s troubling. The situation is severe enough that Urlacher’s availability for Thursday’s preseason opener is in doubt. It would actually be shocking if the seven-time Pro Bowler participated at all against the Broncos at Soldier Field.

Sanzenbacher facing tough task -- again

Posted by Bob LeGere on Thu, 08/02/2012 - 19:23
Last year, as an undrafted rookie out of Ohio State, wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher was arguably the star of training camp. But he might need to have an even better camp this year to earn a spot on a roster that has added been infused with a lot more wide receiver talent. “We’ve brought in a lot of great guys,” the 5-foot-11, 180-pound Sanzenbacher said. “Anytime you come into a camp, there’s always going to be position battles. Very few guys have the job security to just be able to come in and chill. You know coming in that you’re going to be in for a fight.”

Early impressions can be misleading

Posted by Bob LeGere on Wed, 08/01/2012 - 22:00
Just for the record, it’s a little early to be making judgments on players after six practices. So, just because rookie DE Shea McClellin hasn’t dominated veteran offensive linemen in pass-rush drills or in team scrimmages, it doesn’t mean he’s a bust or a wasted draft pick. It just means it might take a little longer to make the adjustment from college DE/LB to full-time NFL defensive end. And just because rookie WR Alshon Jeffery catches several passes in a short period of 1-on-11 work wit the second team, doesn’t mean he’s going to take the Packers’ secondary by storm Thursday night, Sept. 13 in Green Bay.

Undrafted Brown could surprise

Posted by Bob LeGere on Tue, 07/31/2012 - 21:54
If you’re looking for a relatively unknown pick to click in training camp, who could possibly play well enough in the preseason to make the 53-man roster, or at least the eight-man practice squad, James Brown might be the guy. Brown is a 6-foot-4, 306-pound offensive tackle from Troy with better-than- average athleticism, but he went undrafted partly because of concerns about his work ethic and dedication. Brown struggled at right tackle early in camp but has played better since offensive coordinator Mike Tice moved him to left tackle. “He’s got some athletic skills,” Tice said. “But I’m not thinking of moving him ahead of J’Marcus Webb or Chris Williams.”

Hester -- the one and only

Posted by Bob LeGere on Sun, 07/29/2012 - 23:55
Devin Hester is unique, and not just as a kick returner. Hester is also unique in that’s he’s the one and only player remaining from the 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007 Chicago draft classes who is still a Bear. That’s right, out of 30 players selected over four years, Hester is the only player who is still in Chicago. One out of 30. That makes the fact that the Bears are actually considered Super Bowl contenders even more amazing. None of the three first-round picks from that four-year span – Tommis Harris (2004), Cedric Benson (2005) and Greg Olsen (2006) -- have played for the Bears since the end of the 2010 season. Olsen, who was traded to Carolina, is still a valuable member of the Panthers’ offense. But neither Harris nor Benson currently has a team.