Bears

After win over Panthers, Bears head to Lions den

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After win over Panthers, Bears head to Lions den

Monday, Oct. 3, 2011
Posted: 9:10 a.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com Bears Insider Follow @CSNMoonMullin
A win over Carolina staved off a threatening free-fall for the Bears, who now go into the Lions den, where Matthew Stafford waits. And Megatron. And Ndamukong.

Sept. 11, Atlanta Falcons (2-2) W 30-12
Jay Cutler puts up 107.8 passer rating to go with Matt Fortes 158 total yards. Defense holds Matt Ryan and Falcons O without a TD.

Sept. 18, @ New Orleans Saints (3-1) L 13-30
Forte puts up 166 total yards but Mike Martz eschews the run, Cutler is sacked 6 times, 5 in the fourth quarter.

Sept. 25, Green Bay Packers (4-0) L 17-27
More Martz mystery: 9 run calls for Forte net 2 yards, Aaron Rodgers controls the game and the ball for 37 minutes 29 seconds.

Oct. 2, Carolina Panthers (1-3) W 34-29
Matt Forte runs for 205 yards, Cam Newton passes for 374 yards and Panthers rush for 169. Hester punt return and D.J. Moore INT provide winning points.

Mon. Oct. 10, 7:30 p.m. @ Detroit Lions (4-0) Next: BEARS (MNF)
The one-time doormats nearly beat the Bears twice in 10 and now have won 12 straight (last four in 10, four preseason, first four in 11). Comeback wins over Minnesota and Dallas finally a Lions team to believe?

Sun., Oct. 16, 7:20 p.m. Minnesota Vikings (0-4) Next: vs. Arizona

Sun., Oct. 23, noon @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1) Next: vs. Indianapolis, tonight
Colts shouldnt present much of a challenge without Peyton Manning.

Oct. 30, Off week

Mon., Nov. 7, 7:30 p.m. @ Philadelphia Eagles (1-3) Next: at Buffalo
Dream Team living a nightmare after losing to San Francisco to go 0-2 at home. Michael Vick throws for 416 yards but Philly D gives up 513.

Sun., Nov. 13, noon Detroit Lions (4-0)
Sun., Nov. 20, 3:15 p.m. San Diego Chargers (3-1) Next: at Denver
Not a lot of trouble getting past Miami as Philip Rivers completes 21 of 31 and Chargers rush for 118.

Sun., Nov. 27, 3:05 p.m. @ Oakland Raiders (2-2) Next: at Houston
Raiders pile up 504 yards on Patriots defense which holds Darren McFadden to 75 on the ground.

Sun., Dec., 4, noon Kansas City Chiefs (1-3) Next: at Indianapolis
Chiefs manage first win over Minnesota but being without RB Jamaal Charles, only so much damage possible from 010 NFC West champs.

Sun., Dec. 11, 3:05 p.m. @ Denver Broncos (1-3) Next: San Diego
Kyle Orton threw 3 INTs vs. Green Bay and Willis McGahee rushed for 103 but Broncos no match for Packers machine.

Sun., Dec. 18, noon Seattle Seahawks (1-3) Next: at N.Y. Giants
Seahawks miss 61-yard FG in final seconds after coming back from 27-7 hole to lose 30-28 after doing nothing running vs. Falcons defense.

Sun., Dec. 25, 7:20 p.m. @ Green Bay Packers (4-0)
Rodgers throws for 4 TDs and 408 yards and runs for 2 more scores against over-matched Broncos.

Sun., Jan. 1, noon @ Minnesota Vikings (0-4)

Game time subject to change

How Tarik Cohen is thriving as the Bears continue to put more on his plate

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USA Today

How Tarik Cohen is thriving as the Bears continue to put more on his plate

Mitchell Trubisky shook his head and grinned when he fielded yet another question this week about the touchdown pass Tarik Cohen threw against the Baltimore Ravens.

“Dang, you guys can’t get enough of this,” Trubisky said. “I talked about it after the game. Dowell (Loggains) was saying it was the best pass of the game. I’m like, ‘All right, geez, let him play quarterback.

“… He threw a dime ball. I love how he was fading away on it and celebrating on the 50-yard line. Zach (Miller) made a great catch. So A-plus; really impressive spiral, especially with the gloves on. Can’t count any of that out. Tarik’s a special player and it was an awesome throw.”

The point here is less about Cohen’s throw and more about the Bears finding yet another way for the rookie running back to make an impact. So far this year, Cohen has rushed 50 times, caught 26 passes, returned 14 punts and now thrown that historic touchdown. He’s been asked to block in pass protection more frequently, allowing him to be on the field more. And he’s worked with wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni and Kendall Wright (who Cohen referred to as another receiver coach for him) to expand his route tree, leading him to be the most-targeted player (33 targets) on the Bears through six weeks. 

That may seem like a lot to put on the plate of a fourth-round draft pick from an FCS school, but it hasn’t been too much for Cohen. 

“We need Tarik to be that guy for us — the best playmaker we have,” Loggains said. “There’s no secret there. And he’s a guy who we’ll continue to use, and people are aware of him. So how creative can we get with him? How many different things can we do with him? 

“Like, we’re stretching him. Mentally, he’s stretched to the max playing all these positions — motioning out to wide receiver, playing running back and doing more in the backfield with more carries. So we have to keep stretching him and keep using him in the offense.”

Opposing defenses have keyed on Cohen since his explosive debut Week 1 against the Atlanta Falcons, scheming to muffle his playmaking ability. But he still managed to nearly have a walk-off 73-yard run against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 3, and then in Week 6, with defenses figuring they could crash down on him on sweep plays to the edge, he (literally) threw another wrinkle into how to gameplan against him. The next time the Bears run a toss sweep to Cohen, opposing safeties will have to think twice about bolting toward the line of scrimmage to stop him. 

Every time Cohen seems to hit a rookie wall, he and the Bears find a way to knock it down. The discussion a week ago about Cohen was that he was dancing too much and not cutting upfield quick enough; this week, it’s all about his perfect quarterback rating. 

“Our coaches do a good job of continuing to put him in places so he can be successful,” fellow running back Benny Cunningham said. “But ultimately I feel like he has such a genuine love of the game, I don’t see that happening (hitting the wall). Since the day he’s been here, from Day 1 to today, I’ve seen no drop-off in his desire to be successful and to help this offense.”

The Bears have known this about Cohen's mentality since they scouted and drafted him back in the spring, and his potential only blossomed after getting him into Halas Hall in May — “Early on, we knew Tarik was going to be pretty special,” coach John Fox said. But Cohen wouldn’t be able to reach that potential without the ability to handle the responsibilities of all the different tasks the Bears have asked of him so far. 

Cohen’s ability to do so many different things makes him an important player for this team, and his ability to do them with an exciting, playmaking flair has made him a fan favorite since training camp. So what’s next for the 5-foot-6 rookie?

“I think we’ve got something — I’ll punt the ball this week,” Cohen joked. “Naw, I’m playin’. I can’t put the ball for nothing, I don’t think. It’ll probably go like 20 yards.”

The Bears defense is trending up, and could get Nick Kwiatkoski back as soon as this weekend

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USA Today

The Bears defense is trending up, and could get Nick Kwiatkoski back as soon as this weekend

Nick Kwiatkoski was a full participant in Bears practice on Friday, marking the first time the second-year linebacker has done that since he suffered a pec injury Sept. 17 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Officially listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Carolina Panthers, Kwiatkoski sounded confident he could make his return five weeks after suffering that painful injury. 

“It’s not really my decision,” Kwiatkoski said. “I’m preparing like I am, so we’ll see. … “In my head I am (playing). But we’ll see.”

The Bears’ defense, despite placing three key players — linebackers Willie Young and Jerrell Freeman and safety Quintin Demps — on injured reserve, has been solid at worst so far this year. Pro Football Focus has Vic Fangio’s group as the third-best defense in the NFL through Week 6, behind only the Minnesota Vikings and Jacksonville Jaguars. 

While Christian Jones played some quality snaps next to Danny Trevathan (and John Timu — he struggled after Timu’s injury against Minnesota), Kwiatkoski represents an upgrade at inside linebacker. The Bears liked what Kwiatkoski did last year in place of an injured Trevathan, and were confident they wouldn’t miss a beat with him filling in after Freeman’s Week 1 injury. 

“He’s a smart guy who has been willing to work,” coach John Fox said. “And I’ve seen that improvement from last year to this year. And anytime you get whacked or injured or taken out for some reason, you’ve got to kind of regain that again. It’s like a do-over. So he has had a good week.”

Kwiatkoski stayed sharp by going through meetings and film study as if he were playing while that pec injury — which he said felt like a “bad pulled muscle” — kept him sidelined for practices and games. If Kwiatkoski indeed is active and/or starting Sunday against Carolina, the hope is he can step in and pick up where he left off in Week 2. 

“I have all the confidence that he'll do fine,” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said prior to Kwiatkoski’s injury. And that confidence, in all likelihood, still exists.