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.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Can the Bears pull off an upset at home against Tom Brady and the Patriots?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Can the Bears pull off an upset at home against Tom Brady and the Patriots?

Chris Emma, Matt Zahn and Gabe Ramirez join David Kaplan on the panel.

0:00- NBC Sports National NBA Insider Tom Haberstroh joins the panel to discuss the Bulls’ terrible defensive performance as well as Zach LaVine’s impressive season debut.

11:35- Khalil Mack is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Patriots. Can the Bears pull off the upset against Tom Brady?

23:50- NBC Sports Boston Patriots insider Tom E. Curran joins Kap to talk about how New England views the Bears and discuss how Matt Nagy’s team can exploit the Patriots’ weaknesses.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below.

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Khalil Mack appears set to play Sunday with Tom Brady, Patriots looming

Khalil Mack appears set to play Sunday with Tom Brady, Patriots looming

Khalil Mack appears in line to play Sunday with Tom Brady, Patriots looming

Khalil Mack participated in the Bears’ final practice of the week on Friday, clearing the way for the edge rusher to play Sunday against the New England Patriots. 

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported earlier Friday that the Bears expected Mack, who hasn’t missed a game in his career, to play after suffering an ankle injury early in Week 6’s 31-28 loss to the Miami Dolphins. Mack is officially questionable for Sunday’s game at Soldier Field. 

Mack had little interest in discussing his ankle with the media on Friday, passing on answering questions about his readiness for New England. Coach Matt Nagy, though, said he thought Mack “looked pretty good” during practice on Friday. 

Mack didn’t record a sack against Miami and was held to just one pressure, per Pro Football Focus. The Dolphins’ gameplan was to commit plenty of resources to stopping Mack, but he wasn’t effective even when he had one-on-one pass rushing opportunities as the game went on. 

“He was (affected),” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. “I can't put a percentage on it, but he definitely was.”

Having Mack available — even if he’s not full strength — will be critical for the Bears’ defense to have a chance at keeping Tom Brady from lighting up the scoreboard. The key for the Bears will be to generate pressure on the 41-year-old quarterback without blitzing, which is something Fangio’s defense was successful at prior to Sunday’s wacky loss to the Dolphins. 

Brady’s passer rating is 138.4 when he’s blitzed, per Pro Football Focus, while when under pressure his rating is 87.2. That’s still pretty good, but it’s worth noting that all of the six interceptions he’s thrown this year have come when he hasn’t been blitzed. And only one of the eight sacks he’s taken has come when he’s been blitzed. 

The point being: If the Bears feel like they have to start blitzing to generate pressure, they can expect Brady to pick them apart.  

“You could say all of that but ultimately (Brady’s) a gamer,” Mack said. “He’s going to take those hits, and you gotta be able to deliver them but also have coverage over the top. It’s going to be real important for us.” 

The good news for the Bears, perhaps, is that New England’s tackles have struggled at times this year. Left tackle Trent Brown has allowed 17 pressures in 234 pass blocking snaps, per Pro Football Focus (about one in every 14 snaps). And starting right tackle Marcus Cannon is out with a concussion, giving way for backup La’Adrian Waddle, who’s allowed eight pressures in 78 pass blocking snaps (about one in every 10). 

So the opportunities will be there for Mack, Leonard Floyd, Akiem Hicks and the Bears’ pass rush to affect Brady on Sunday.

A bigger injury concern?

While cornerback Prince Amukamara (hamstring) was a full participant in Friday’s practice and will play Sunday, slot corner Bryce Callahan suffered an ankle injury during Thursday’s practice and did not participate Friday. He’s officially questionable for Sunday. 

Callahan “did his ankle,” Nagy said, toward the end of Thursday’s practice, and he felt worse as the day went on. Nagy characterized Callahan’s absence from Friday’s practice as “precautionary.”

Callahan’s availability may be more of a pressing concern than Mack’s, given how well the Patriots’ offense has played since slot receiver Julian Edelman returned from a four-game suspension to begin the season. While his numbers aren’t eye-popping (11 catches on 16 targets, 111 yards, 1 TD), New England’s offense has scored 38 and 43 points in his two games back. 

“Brady has always had a guy in the slot that he’s comfortable with; whether it be (Wes) Welker, (Danny) Amendola or Edelman,” Fangio said. “It’s a big part of their offense. They haven’t missed a beat, but I really think it’s helped their offense and played a big part in them basically averaging 40 points in the last three weeks. I really appreciate and respect how good of a player he is and has been.”

If Callahan isn’t available, Sherrick McManis could be the next man up at slot corner.