Bears

Word on the Street: Cutler travels to Kenya

Word on the Street: Cutler travels to Kenya

Tuesday, March 22, 2011
CSNChicago.com

Cutler travels to Kenya

Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, accompanied by his girlfriend, Kristin Cavallari, is currently visiting Kenya to do charitable work with the non-profit One Kid One World organization. As part of the trip, which Cutler has been silent about but Cavallari announced via her Twitter account, they will also be visiting El Salvador to provide children and teachers with school supplies.

Cutler has not spoken to the media since his performance was cut short by a knee injury in the Bears' disappointing loss in the NFC Championship Game to the rival Green Bay Packers.

Despite the opportunity to quiet his critics following the game, Cutler has stayed mum about his charity work this offseason. Both now and when he quietly visited sick children at the University of Chicago Comer Children's Hospital.

Thats the side of Jay a lot of people dont know, Bears president Ted Phillips said Sunday. He does have a caring side to him. (Chicago Sun-Times)

Huet selling condo, drops price

Looking for a 14th story, River North triplex with a seven-person hot tub and a mini hockey rink in the solarium? Have 2.775 million to spare? You're in luck! Former Chicago Blackhawks goalie Cristobal Huet recently dropped the price of his old home after six months on the market. The triplex is still priced 350K higher than he bought it for in 2008, though. (Curbed Chicago)

Peavy plays catch

White Sox ace Jake Peavy, who is currently recovering from tendinitis in his right rotator cuff, played catch with bullpen coach Juan Nieves on Tuesday. Peavy threw from a distance of about 30 to 40 feet on the Sox practice field at Camelback Ranch. After the throwing session, Peavy said he was encouraged.

"I felt better than I did a coupledays ago," Peavy said. "So I was excited that things are certainly calming down." (ChicagoBreakingSports)

Announcer turns down Cubs PA job

Joe Caruso, a former radio announcer and current announcer for "Great Day SA" in San Antonio, Texas has turned down the opportunity to be the new voice of Wrigley Field. After reaching the "finals" for the job, Caruso said he had to turn the job down despite it being his childhood dream.

We couldnt come to terms, he said. When everything was put on the table, I had to turn it down. He said that the job turned out to be part-time and did not pay enough to warrant a move to the windy city. (MySanAntonio)

Rex Ryan defends father against Duerson's charge

Boisterous New York Jets coach Rex Ryan said the claim by the late Dave Duerson that his father, Buddy Ryan, called the former Bears safety a racial epithet "ridiculous." Rex Ryan spoke to reporters at the NFL owners meetings in New Orleans and said that he never heard his father use racially offensive language.

"I've been around my dad a long time," Rex Ryan said, "and I never heard every conversation he ever had in his life, but I never heard him ever use language like that, a word like that. My dad loves his players, respected his players." (ChicagoBreakingSports)

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.