Bears

Kreutz: No hard feelings; Urlacher practices

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Kreutz: No hard feelings; Urlacher practices

Friday, Sept. 16, 2011
Posted: 8:53 a.m. Updated: 5:00 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com Bears Insider Follow @CSNMoonMullin
Olin Kreutz did not get what he wanted from the Chicago Bears in terms of a final contract. But he is not taking any hard feelings onto the field with the intent of taking them out on the players for a team that drafted him in 1998 and for which he played his entire career until now.

None of those guys Im playing against made a decision me, Kreutz said. And to be perfectly honest and perfectly fair, they made a fair offer to come back and I didnt go back.

Theres no hard feelings.

Kreutzs comments are not surprising. He has always had a sense of whats right and not right, regardless of whether it squares with everyone elses. Indeed, it should be noted by critics fond of bashing the Bears for not paying him, that he considered the Bears offer fair. And he signed for about half the Bears offer to play for the Saints when the Bears pulled their offer off the table.

But if there are no hard feelings, that doesnt mean that there arent strong feelings.

Its hard to say its another football game, Kreutz said. Itll be like playing against your brother or your friend. You probably want to beat them more than you want to beat anyone else.

Im sure seeing them in the beginning will be a little emotional. But they know how I feel about them. I know how they feel about me.

"But that doesnt mean were not going to try to kick each others ass.

Nicks and bruises

With receiver Roy Williams missing a second day of practice with the groin strain suffered against Atlanta, expect Johnny Knox back in the starting lineup opposite Devin Hester.

Running back Marion Barber has been expected to miss his second game with a calf strain from the Tennessee preseason game. He has not played since then, did not practice again Thursday, and Kahlil Bell should get his second game as primary backup to Matt Forte.

Knox lost his No. 1 job to Williams early in camp when the former Dallas CowboyDetroit Lion arrived and started to settle in. But Knox caught 3 passes for 60 yards coming off the bench in the Atlanta game and is a proven deep threat after leading the Bears in receiving yards last season and ranking fifth in the NFL in average yards per catch.
Urlacher returns

Brian Urlacher was practicing again Friday, the final confirmation that the middle linebacker will be in his customary spot Sunday despite the recent death of his mother Lavoyda.

Measuring gauge

A game of some note for Bears fans will be the Philadelphia Eagles going against the Atlanta Falcons in the Georgia Dome. Colleague Ray Didinger at CSNPhilly.com does a very in-depth look at the offense, defense and special-teams situations.

The game is worth checking out because its a future Bears opponent (Eagles) against a team the Bears just finished with, and this is another of those deals that have playoff implications because of potential tiebreakers. Its also a chance to measure the Philly defense and that self-proclaimed Dream Team that the Eagles assembled in the offseason.

You have to love the East Coast media hype, though. The Bears sign five No. 1 draft choices Williams, Amobi Okoye, Chris Spencer, Vernon Gholston, plus a 2007 Pro Bowl tailback (Barber) whos sitting on the bench and get picked to slip backwards from 11-5 to 8-8 or worse by many observers.
Lockout blues

The Bears showed zero negative effects from either the long offseason lockout or players opting to work out pretty much on their own without a lot of wasted energy on group sessions. The Oakland Raiders, with new head coach Hue Jackson, got past the Denver Broncos last weekend in a meeting of two Bears November opponents.

But check out what Bill Romanowski has to say on CSNCalifornia.coms Raiders page about the lockout effects.

Bears going to funeral for Urlacher's mother

As perhaps befitting the second-most senior member of their roster, the Bears will be represented by members from all areas of their organizational family.

The private service for Urlacher's mother will be held on Saturday. The following Bears representatives are scheduled to attend: Chairman of the Board George McCaskey, President and CEO Ted Phillips, General Manager Jerry Angelo, head coach Lovie Smith, linebackers coach Bob Babich and linebacker Lance Briggs.

As a friend, you support your friend, Briggs said. I think everyone in the country right now is sending out their condolences and their prayers to him and his family, so I think thats the best way to support him and help him get through the situation.

In lieu of flowers, the Urlacher family has asked for donations to be made to the following:

Lavoyda Fund
co City of Lovington Youth Center
214 S. Love St.
Lovington, NM 88260

Its just sad, Smith said. Im lucky to be his coach. But our relationship goes a lot further than that. I lost my mother earlier this year, one of the first guys on the telephone with me was Brian...

Were just going to be there to support him in any way that we can and just be there to help him through a tough time. Unless youve been through it, theres no way to make it any better than it is at the time. But hell get through it.

With a little help from his friends.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

Why 'Turbo' Taylor Gabriel fell in love with the slow-paced game of golf

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USA Today

Why 'Turbo' Taylor Gabriel fell in love with the slow-paced game of golf

Plenty of NFL players will use the league’s mandated five-week summer break to play a little golf as a way to relax and recharge for the grind of training camp and regular season. But you won’t find many players who take golf more seriously than Bears wide receiver Taylor Gabriel. 

Which is a little ironic on the surface, right? Gabriel’s nickname is “Turbo,” after all. 

“Yeah, that’s very weird when I think about it,” Gabriel laughed. “It’s not a sport to where you’re running and jumping, and I wouldn’t say not doing anything really athletic — it’s more mental than anything. 

“But I feel like it kind of helps me football-wise in the sense of kind of focus. Like dialing in on that swing, keeping that same swing rhythm pattern, not getting too frustrated after I just sliced a drive or go O.B. on the driver. So it’s helping me.”

Gabriel had played sporadically earlier in his life, and said his father golfs, but didn’t get hooked by the sport until last April while watching Tiger Woods win the Masters. He bought his first set of nice clubs after that remarkable weekend in Augusta and frequently posts videos of his swing to his Instagram account.  

So it’s become a serious hobby of his — “There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t practice,” he said. It’s also something he and his wife do together. 

Though he admitted his wife is a better golfer than he is. 

“She’s not trying to crush the ball, she’s not trying to do too much, but she keeps that consistent same rhythm, same swing, same follow-through every time,” Gabriel said. “Me, I might see the hole is probably 180 (yards) out, I mean, I just want to crush it on the green. And that’s when everything goes wrong.”

Still, for someone who’s only been seriously golfing for about two months, that Gabriel said he can consistently hit his drives 240 yards is rather impressive (being an exceptional athlete, certainly, has to help). But this isn’t some casual love affair with golf — it’s a legitimate way for Gabriel to take his mind off football while staying sharp mentally and doing something he’s quickly grown to genuinely enjoy doing. 

“It’s relaxing, just playing 18 holes — I’m a walker, I like walking,” Gabriel said. “Eighteen holes kind of figuring out your swing, what you did wrong, you know what I mean, just being on the golf course, relaxing, the atmosphere. But at the end of the day I’ve been doing pretty good. I’ve been hitting them pretty straight, I’ve been putting them pretty good, so I guess I’m catching on quick. 

“But every time I ask a golfer, I mean, how long did it take for you guys to get a consistent swing, they say 20 years. I mean, I got that to look forward to.”  

Pro Football Focus: Khalil Mack is NFL’s most valuable edge rusher

Pro Football Focus: Khalil Mack is NFL’s most valuable edge rusher

It didn’t take the Bears long to see how valuable Khalil Mack is to their defense, elevating the group from the moment he first stepped on the field.

He’s been among the league’s best outside linebackers since he first broke out in 2015, and the analytics back up the eye test.

He was the highest edge defender on Pro Football Focus’ list of the top 50 players in the NFL, and their “wins above replacement” metric shows why.

It’s Mack and Von Miller, then everyone else.

“Foremost, Mack is a slightly more complete player than Miller when it comes to defending the run,” PFF’s Ben Linsey wrote. “Yes, run defense is significantly less important than an edge rusher’s ability to disrupt the quarterback, but with so little difference between the players, everything gets put under the magnifying glass.”

Over the past four seasons, both players have exactly 49 sacks, although Mack missed two games over that span. The Bears outside linebacker has the edge in interceptions, forced fumbles and tackles for loss, most coming with a lower quality defense around him than what Miller has had in Denver.

It’s no surprise Ryan Pace was willing to trade multiple first-round picks to make Mack the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history. He’s the best in the league.

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