Bears making changes on O-line with QBs hurting


Bears making changes on O-line with QBs hurting

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) The Chicago Bears will not know until at least Thursday and possibly Friday whether quarterback Jay Cutler will play against the Minnesota Vikings this weekend.

They know for certain some things will change within the offense.

Cutler, who missed the last game and a half due to a concussion, will go through a limited practice Thursday then could get the go-ahead for a full practice Friday ahead of Sunday's game.

``Jay has to be cleared to practice on a limited basis, which he has been cleared to do that,'' coach Lovie Smith said Wednesday. ``Before he can play, he has to be cleared by an independent neurologist, and we're not to that point.''

Cutler said he feels fine, is symptom-free and hopes to get medical approval to play.

``I've got to see some more doctors, got to go on the field and make sure you can exert yourself, really,'' he said. ``It's a personal thing, just making sure you feel OK.''

Cutler was injured during the Houston game as he scrambled to try and throw a pass in the open field, and has often done this when his struggling offensive line has failed to protect him. He said the concussion, his second with the Bears and third in the NFL, will not make him less willing to take risks.

``It's not going to change the way I play football,'' he said. ``It's not going to change my desire to return to the field by any means.''

To make sure Cutler or backup Jason Campbell is properly protected in the future, the Bears are considering changes at offensive tackle. They allowed six sacks to the San Francisco 49ers on Monday night and have given up 34 on the year, second only to Arizona (44).

``There's never job security when you put up a performance like that across the board,'' center Roberto Garza said.

Starting left guard Chilo Rachal was placed on the reserve/left team list for personal reasons that were not disclosed. As a result, either Chris Spencer or Edwin Williams could get a start at left guard against veteran Jared Allen and the Vikings.

Spencer started the first two games at left guard this season before Rachal was moved into the spot. Williams started the final seven games at left guard in 2011 after an injury to Chris Williams.

There could be changes coming at tackle, as well, after right tackle Gabe Carimi and left tackle J'Marcus Webb both struggled against the 49ers.

Offensive coordinator Mike Tice said veteran tackle Jonathan Scott, acquired in early September after playing for Pittsburgh, Detroit, and Buffalo in a seven-year career, has the ability to start at tackle.

``I have been in meetings for the last three months, so I've been paying attention,'' Scott said. ``I believe I am ready.''

Carimi, the 2011 first-round draft pick from Wisconsin, was beaten several times by 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith and has never looked 100 percent after offseason knee surgery.

``He gets all worked up and he doesn't settle down and it compounds it,'' Tice said. ``It's happened more than once. It compounds and it keeps building. So, he's a young player and he has to work through it. He really does.''

Webb has started at left tackle the last two seasons after starting at right tackle as a rookie.

``You know, it all boils down to him, when he uses his hands,'' Tice said. ``He's OK. He's not bad. And the few times this game that he used his hands, he blocked his guy. But when he doesn't use his hands, he's just a big, tall guy out there getting edgy and getting knocked around.''

With the offense now ranked 30th in the league and the passing attack 31st, Tice is searching for answers. One possibility won't be Tice relinquishing play-calling duties to quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates.

``There's no consideration of that, I don't know where you got that from,'' Smith told reporters.

Tice said the Bears' offense simply has to block better. Without that he said they ``could bring Joe Gibbs out of retirement and have him call the plays,'' and the offense would still struggle.

Notes: DE Shea McClellin was given clearance to go through a full practice following a concussion suffered two weeks ago, which means he will be available to play Sunday unless he has more symptoms. ... WR Alshon Jeffery underwent arthroscopic knee surgery and Smith said the rookie will miss two to four weeks. Jeffery had just come back from a fractured right hand before suffering a knee injury in the second half against San Francisco.

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' important win over Pacers, including Kelly Oubre's big dunk

5 must-see moments from Wizards' important win over Pacers, including Kelly Oubre's big dunk

Here are five plays or moments from the Wizards' 109-102 win over the Pacers on Saturday night that are worth revisiting... 

1. The Wizards took care of business against the Pacers on Saturday night and in doing so earned an important advantage in the playoff race. They won the season series and therefore own a tiebreaker for playoff seeding and currently that would mean home court advantage in the first round if the playoffs began today.

The Wizards took control early and part of that effort were five first-half assists by Bradley Beal. He ended up with 19 points, but some of his best plays were passes.

On this one, he executed a perfect pick-and-roll with Marcin Gortat:


2. This was another pretty pass to Gortat. Tomas Satoransky, who had 12 points and eight assists, fed Gortat with a nice reach-around pass on a play that featured some impressive ball movement overall:

3. This was a great moment. The Wizards had a member of the military surprise his niece on the court. She literally did not see it coming:


4. These last two plays are dunks by Kelly Oubre, Jr., who finished with 16 points. On this play, he cut through the and threw down with authority:

5. This dunk was set up by a beautiful pass from Ramon Sessions. It traveled about three-quarters of the court and Oubre did the rest:

The Wizards now have three days off before their next game as they sit fourth in the Eastern Conference. Things are trending positive for the Wizards as the playoff race heats up.

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Wizards take out Pacers to earn important advantage in playoff seeding

Wizards take out Pacers to earn important advantage in playoff seeding

The Washington Wizards beat the Indiana Pacers 109-102 on Saturday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Important victory: Saturday night's game between the Wizards and Pacers had several layers of playoff implications on the line and it was Washington who rose to the occasion and showed the urgency commensurate for the stakes.

By beating the Pacers, the Wizards locked up the season series between the teams, two games to one. That gives them the tiebreaker for playoff seeding if the teams finish the regular season with the same record. That could very well prove paramount. As of now, the Wizards and Pacers have the same record (40-30) with 12 games to go.

The season series advantage means the Wizards are above the Pacers in the standings despite having the same record. They moved into fourth place in the East with the win and the Cavs slotted back into third. There will likely be a lot more movement as these next few weeks play out, but the Wizards now hold an important edge over the Pacers.

The win also pushed the Wizards to 14-8 since John Wall went down with a left knee injury. Wall could return this coming week or the week after and the Wizards have more than stayed afloat during his absence.

The Wizards' magic number to make the playoffs is now just five. 


Sato went off: The Wizards jumped out to a double-digit lead in the first quarter mostly thanks to a hot start from Tomas Satoransky, who scored the Wizards' first five points and had 10 by the end of the first quarter.

Satoransky's floater was automatic. He dropped in several in the lane from all different angles. Satoransky was practicing the same shots, floaters off each foot, the day before in practice and it paid off.

It was a well-rounded night for Satoransky. In addition to his 12 points, he also had eight assists and five rebounds, including this one to find Marcin Gortat for the dunk:

Gortat came up big: Speaking of Gortat, the Wizards' big man had one of his best games of the season. He poured in 18 points to go along with eight rebounds, four assists a steal and a block. Gortat shot 6-for-8, consistently having his way on the block.

The Pacers were without two of their best big men in Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis and Gortat took advantage of that. He was way too much for Al Jefferson.

The Pacers tried to roll with small-ball lineups using Trevor Booker and Thaddeus Young as their big men, but it didn't work. Gortat was too big for them and his teammates did a great job finding him for open looks.

Gortat's 18 points were his most since Jan. 3 when he had a season-high 21 against the Knicks. Lately, Gortat has seen his minutes dwindle with the increased role for Ian Mahinmi, so Saturday night must have felt good for the Polish Machine.


Bojan held in check: Bojan Bogdanovic, who spent part of last season with the Wizards, was a major factor in the first two matchups between Washington and the Pacers this season. He had 20 points in one game and 29 in another, each time getting hot from three.

The Wizards, though, made some adjustments in this one and held Bo Buckets in check. He didn't make his first shot until nearly the midway point of the second quarter and it was only because Kelly Oubre, Jr. (16 points, 18 minutes) lost his balance. Oubre stumbled backward, giving Bogdanovic a split second to get off an open three. That was the only shot he hit in the first half as he began the game 1-for-4.

Oubre did a good job harrassing Bogdanovic and not giving him space on the premiter. Otto Porter (eight points) and Bradley Beal (19 points) did as well. Both Porter and Beal stripped the ball out of Bogdanovic's hands early in the third quarter. Midway through the third, Bogdanovic got past Porter only to be called for an offensive foul on a collision with Gortat. All in all, it was a frustrating night for Bogdanovic, who had 11 points, three below his season average.

Bogdanovic is a very good shooter and when he's hot can alter games. But when you take his shots away, there's not much else he can do to hurt you. The Wizards did a good job taking away his strengths and making others beat them. Not having to focus on Turner and Sabonis certainly helped. 

Sessions is still in the rotation: It turns out those five games for Ramon Sessions over the course of his second 10-day contract weren't just an audition. Now that he has been signed for the rest of the season, Sessions is still getting the nod over Tim Frazier as the backup point guard.

Sessions logged 18 minutes and even played alongside Satoransky and Jodie Meeks in the fourth quarter. The Wizards had a sizable lead and head coach Scott Brooks decided to experiment with his lineups. That is something to keep in mind for when Wall comes back. Once he does, Sessions will be the third point guard and likely rarely see the court. But if they see something they like about him at shooting guard, that could open the door for more playing time possibilities.

Up next: The Wizards have three off-days before their next game. That will be on Wednesday when they head to San Antonio to face the Spurs. Tipoff is at 9:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington. Pregame coverage begins at 8:30 p.m. with Wizards HangTime.

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