Bear Essentials

Bear Essentials

Titans coach wary of Hester

Posted by Bob LeGere on Fri, 11/07/2008 - 18:46
Devin Hester's punt- and kickoff-return numbers are way down, and his fumbles are up, but Titans coach Jeff Fisher is still concerned about the Bears' Pro Bowl return specialist. “Devin can break three runs in the next three weeks and be leading the league in both categories,” said Fisher, who was the Bears' single-season leader in punt-return yards with 509 (in 1981) until Hester erased him from the record book with 600 yards in 2006 and 651 in 2007. “He’s making good decisions; he’s catching the football. He’s very, very close (to breaking one). We see him as one of the all-time (best) returners to ever play the game. It’s going to be quite a challenge for us.”

WEEK 10 POWER RANKINGS: BEARS NEXT FOR NO. 1 TITANS

Posted by Bob LeGere on Tue, 11/04/2008 - 01:26
1. Tennessee Titans (8-0): Former Bears safety Jeff Fisher has coached his team to 11 straight regular-season games heading into Soldier Field. Last week: 1. 2. New York Giants (7-1): Talk about offensive-defensive balance: They were No. 3 in total yards and total yards allowed and No. 6 in points and points allowed before routing Cowboys. Last week: 2. 3. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2): Even without injured Roethlisberger (shoulder) in second half, they trounced a good Redskins team. Defense wins championships, and their defense is the best. Last week: 5. 4. Carolina Panthers (6-2): Hard to figure which is easier, last week's bye or this week's trip to Oakland. Last week: 3.

Corners return

Posted by Bob LeGere on Sun, 11/02/2008 - 11:57
Starting cornerbacks Charles Tillman and Nate Vasher will return to action today. Vasher missed the past three games after having wrist surgery, while Tillman missed the last game with a shoulder injury. Wide receiver Brandon Lloyd is inactive again, for the fourth straight game, with a sprained knee, while strong-side linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer did not dress after having surgery on his right thumb last week. Safety Danieal Manning missed his second game with a strained hamstring. Devin Hester and Rashied Davis are expected to be the Bears' starting wide receivers, while Nick Roach, a second-year player from Northwestern should open in place of Hillenmeyer.

Rivera on the rise

Posted by Bob LeGere on Thu, 10/30/2008 - 14:17
Ron Rivera is working his way back up the coaching ladder after being forced out as the Bears' defensive coordinator following the 2006 Super Bowl season. The former Bears linebacker was promoted earlier this week from inside linebackers coach with the Chargers to their defensive coordinator after Ted Cottrell was fired. Rivera interviewed for several head coaching jobs in his last two seasons with the Bears but when those jobs went to others he was left in limbo after the Bears didn't rehire him.

Week 9 power rankings: Titans rule

Posted by Bob LeGere on Tue, 10/28/2008 - 10:40
1. Tennessee Titans (7-0): No doubt about it after convincing Monday night dismantling of Colts. Play host to Packers this week on short rest. Last week: 1. 2. New York Giants (6-1): It wasn't pretty, but they beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh 21-14 behind a swarming pass rush and 4 interceptions. Last week: 4. 3. Carolina Panthers (6-2): Rallied from 17-3 deficit despite getting gouged for 375 passing yards by Cardinals in 27-23 victory heading into bye. Last week: 6. 4. Washington Redskins (6-2): Needed two huge plays from Santana Moss to withstand upset bid by winless Lions. Last week: 8.

More games = more $$$$$

Posted by Bob LeGere on Sun, 10/26/2008 - 14:08
According to commissioner Roger Goodell, an expanded regular season would improve the overall quality of the NFL and increase interest among fans. If Goodell wanted to be completely truthful, he would have mentioned the most important reason that the league is considering expanding the regular season to 17 or 18 games and reducing the preseason to three of four games – money. With more regular-season games the league will be able to demand more money from the TV networks, where most of their revenue comes from.

Week 8 power rankings: Titans stay on top

Posted by Bob LeGere on Tue, 10/21/2008 - 11:13
1. Tennessee Titans (6-0): Only unbeaten team remaining routed Chiefs and rushed for 332 yards in tuneup for Monday night showdown with Colts. Last week: 1. 2. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-1): Got 120 rushing yards from third-string RB Mewelde Moore and 7 sacks vs Bengals. Last week: 2. 3. Buffalo Bills (5-1): Impressive, young QB Trent Edwards (25-for-30, 261 yards) outplayed Phillip Rivers in victory over Chargers. Last week: 3. 4. New York Giants (5-1): Held 49ers Frank Gore to 11 yards on 11 rushes. Tough test this week in Pittsburgh. Last week: 4. 5. Tampa Bay Bucs (5-2): Had little trouble rolling over Seahawks with stifling defense but should have tougher time this week at Dallas. Last week: 5.

Both starting corners out

Posted by Bob LeGere on Sun, 10/19/2008 - 10:58
Both starting cornerbacks – Charles Tillman (shoulder) and Nate Vasher (wrist) – are inactive today, as is safety Daniel Manning (hamstring), the Bears' nickel back. That leaves the Bears with Corey Graham and Trumaine McBride as the starting cornerbacks and only Marcus Hamilton and Zackary Bowman as backups. Hamilton, a first-year player, has been with the team less than a month since being cut by the Bucs. Bowman, a fifth-round draft pick this season, was promoted from the practice squad earlier in the week. This is the third straight game Vasher has missed, even though he's been practicing for the past two weeks. He missed 12 games last season with a groin injury.

Lesson learned?

Posted by Bob LeGere on Fri, 10/17/2008 - 21:08
Last season in Week Six, the Vikings' Adrian Peterson rushed for 224 yards at Soldier Field, more than any opponent had ever gained against the Bears in franchise history, and he did it on just 20 carries. But eight games later, Peterson was held to 78 yards on the same number of attempts. What was the difference? “I couldn’t really tell you, besides the fact that we were in our gaps (in the rematch),” linebacker Lance Briggs said. “We were where we were supposed to be. When you’re not where you’re supposed to be, games like last year’s home game happen, and Adrian Peterson runs for 220 yards on you.”

Running room could be tight

Posted by Bob LeGere on Wed, 10/15/2008 - 23:47
I don't believe the Bears will have much luck running against the Vikings Sunday at Soldier Field. First, rookie running back Matt Forte sat out Wednesday's practice. Although the reason listed was “rest,” Forte was wearing a splint on his left thumb Monday, the same thumb that he was icing in the lockerroom last Sunday after the loss to the Falcons. But even healthy running backs struggle against the Vikings' defense and especially their stud tackles, Pat Williams and Kevin Williams, who aren't related but are very similar in their ability to clog the middle and discourage opponents from even attempting to run.