Bear Essentials

Bear Essentials

WEEK FIVE POWER RANKINGS – GIANTS BACK ON TOP

Posted by Bob LeGere on Tue, 09/30/2008 - 12:17
1. New York Giants (3-0): Last year's No. 1 is now this year's No. 1 after NFC East foes Dallas and Philadelphia both lost while they enjoyed an off week in preparation for what should be an easy win at home vs. Seahawks. Last week: 4. 2. Tennessee Titans (4-0): Best start in 48-year franchise history thanks to opportunistic group that scored 21 points off 4 turnovers. Expect a physical slugfest when they visit the Ravens this week. Last week: 3. 3. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-1): Offense is struggling with multiple injuries at RB, and QB Ben Roethlisberger is hardly playing like a $100 million man, but defense has been stout enough to pick up the slack. Tough trip to Jacksonville up next. Last week: 5.

Injuries might not hurt so bad

Posted by Bob LeGere on Mon, 09/29/2008 - 20:24
Euphoria over the 24-20 victory Sunday night was somewhat tempered on Monday by the injuries to leading receiver Brandon Lloyd (knee) and cornerback Charles Tillman (shoulder), in addition to questions about the health of defensive tackle Tommie Harris' left knee. “We’re evaluating them, hoping they’ll be ready to go this week and all of that,” coach Lovie Smith said unconvincingly late Monday afternoon. “Nathan Vasher also had a wrist/thumb injury. Hopefully he’ll be ready to go also.” Smith seemed confident that Tillman wouldn't be out long. “He hurt his shoulder last night,” Lovie said, “and luckily it wasn’t anything serious.”

Bears bargain paying off

Posted by Bob LeGere on Sat, 09/27/2008 - 23:50
Sometimes shopping the bargain racks really pays off. After three weeks it seems the Bears made the right decision by declining to get into a bidding war for Bernard Berrian, who cost the Vikings $42 million over six years. Instead the Bears signed Redskins castoff Brandon Lloyd for $645,000, the league minimum plus a $40,000 bonus. So far, Lloyd has far outperformed Berrian. While neither offense has been very productive this season, Lloyd has still managed to catch 13 passes for 216 yards and 1 touchdown, while Berrian has 6 catches for 117 yards and no touchdowns. If he maintains the same pace for 16 games, Lloyd will finish with 70 receptions for 1,152 yards, which would be the fifth-highest yardage in franchise history.

What's up with Harris?

Posted by Bob LeGere on Fri, 09/26/2008 - 19:59
Tommie Harris isn't helping the Bears in his present condition, whatever that is. It's difficult to tell, since the Bears have a policy of shrouding even the tiniest injury in secrecy. Harris has rarely practiced at full speed since the season opener, and he has made little impact in any of the first three games. He says he's healthy enough to practice, but he's played like someone who either has a legitimate injury or is struggling to overcome the mental aspect of knee surgery. So why not shut him down for a week or two? Give his surgical left knee a chance to get well and maybe, when he returns, the Bears will have some semblance of the disruptive force who was voted to the past three Pro Bowls.

Forte working overtime

Posted by Bob LeGere on Wed, 09/24/2008 - 23:59
Sure, rookie running back Matt Forte is off to an excellent start. His 409 yards from scrimmage are second in the NFL only to Frank Gore's 412. But it might be time to start thinking about cutting back a bit on the 22-year-old Forte's workload and using veteran Kevin Jones a little more. Jones got 13 carries in the season opener but has touched the ball just four times since. Forte leads the NFL in rushing attempts with 73, which, over the course of an entire season, works out to 389 carries (and 1,621 yards). But no one in the NFL last season carried the ball more times than the Redskins' Clinton Portis, who had 325. Only six players in the league carried more than 300 times.

Week 4 power rankings: Who's worse, the Chiefs or Rams?

Posted by Bob LeGere on Tue, 09/23/2008 - 10:20
1. Dallas Cowboys (3-0): The RB tandem of Marion Barber and rookie Felix Jones may be the best in the game. They combined for 218 rushing yards last week and they've help make the Cowboys the NFC's highest scoring team. Last week: 1. 2. Philadelphia Eagles (2-1): Bad news for Bears. Not only can they light up the scoreboard, they proved last week that they could play dominating defense, getting 9 sacks with a relentless rush and allowing just 180 yards vs. the Steelers. Last week: 2. 3. Tennessee Titans (3-0): Jeff Fisher's team is allowing less than 10 points per game, and they look to be better off with veteran Kerry Collins replacing erratic and immature Vince Young at quarterback. Last week: 7.

Faint praise for Griese

Posted by Bob LeGere on Mon, 09/22/2008 - 20:05
Middle linebacker Brian Urlacher wasn't in a gracious mood after Sunday's game when asked whether former teammate Brian Griese's knowledge of the Bears' defense helped him complete 38 passes for 407 yards in the Bucs' 27-24 overtime victory. “Well, he knew it well enough to throw three picks to us,” Urlacher said. “It should have been four. But they won the game, so he did a good enough job for them to beat us.”

Hester sitting it out

Posted by Bob LeGere on Sun, 09/21/2008 - 10:55
Pro Bowl return specialist Devin Hester is inactive today because of the torn rib cartilage that he suffered last week against the Panthers. Danieal Manning is expected to return kickoffs in Hester's absence, and cornerback Nate Vasher will handle punt returns. Defensive tackle Anthony Adams, who started all four preseason games and nine games last season, was also inactive Sunday for the third straight week. The Bears' other inactives were rookie safety Craig Steltz (ankle), guard Dan Buenning, rookie offensive tackle Chris Williams (back), defensive tackle Matt Toeaina and rookie wide receiver Earl Bennett. Rookie Caleb Hanie was the third quarterback.

Forte a two-way threat

Posted by Bob LeGere on Sun, 09/21/2008 - 00:03
Rookie running back Matt Forte not only leads the Bears and is fourth in the NFL with 215 rushing yards on 46 carries (4.7-yard average), but he is second on the Bears with 6 receptions, just 1 behind Brandon Lloyd. In addition to his 2,127 rushing yards at Tulane last year, Forte caught 32 passes. Forte considers himself equally adept at both phases of the game, but admits he has to put a little more effort into being a pass catcher. “I'd say they're both equal because I work on catching the ball a lot,” he said, “but it kind of comes naturally to me, same way as running does.”

Hester has torn rib cartilage

Posted by Bob LeGere on Thu, 09/18/2008 - 13:38
Devin Hester's injury has finally been revealed as torn rib cartilage. It did not originally occur on the last kickoff he returned before leaving the game in the third quarter, but it was aggravated on that play. “Earlier in the game I landed on it kind of funny on a tackle and it knocked the wind out of me a little bit, but I didn’t show (it),” Hester said Thursday afternoon. “I got up and played it off. Later on in the game, I tried to make a move on the sideline and it popped. It was some kind of awkward way I turned in trying to avoid a tackler and get out of bounds. I just felt it pop.” Hester said he'd like to play Sunday, but it might be wiser to take a game off and allow the injury to completely heal.