Bears back from bye, Lions up next

Bears back from bye, Lions up next

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) While the Chicago Bears appreciate their place atop the NFC North standings, they know they won't enjoy the view for long unless some big changes occur on offense.

The Bears (4-1) had a bye over the weekend and took over the division lead because of Minnesota's 38-26 loss to the Washington Redskins.

``It's not bad - without playing, that's not bad,'' tight end Kellen Davis said Monday. ``You can't beat that really.''

Still, Detroit (2-3) and Green Bay (3-3) both won on Sunday, keeping the Bears from getting too excited about their half-game lead over the Vikings (4-2) as they began preparations for next Monday night's game against the Lions.

``It's a tough division,'' cornerback Tim Jennings said. ``It's going to be up and down, but once November, December hits, that's when teams start to get in stride and figure out who they are, try to identify themselves and get going for the playoffs.''

The Bears play only their second divisional game of the season against the Lions.

``Our division took a step up,'' coach Lovie Smith said. ``But as I told the team today, none of that really matters for us. We like the position we're in. Any week you have to be ready to go to play your best football. That's what I saw from this weekend. Teams that played 60 minutes or more end up winning the football game. Detroit, this week ... I'm sure they've been waiting for this game for a long time.''

To stay where they are, the Bears offense has to come around both in the running and passing games to complement a defense that has been dominant.

The passing attack took a hit with the loss of wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, reportedly to a fractured hand. The rookie has 14 catches, but the Bears will get wide receiver Earl Bennett back from a two-game absence due to a hand injury.

Bennett went through a full practice Monday and deemed himself fit.

``Those guys (teammates) are out there making plays, just having fun,'' Bennett said. ``We're winning and it's tough to sit back and just watch and not be a part of the fun.''

Even with Jeffery making 14 catches and wide receiver Brandon Marshall tied for ninth in the league with Detroit's Calvin Johnson at 35 catches, the Bears passing game ranks only 23rd (222.6 yards per game).

The running game had struggled until the Week 5 blowout win over Jacksonville, when running back Matt Forte went over the 100-yard mark for the first time since Nov. 7, 2011. The 214-yard team rushing effort in the Jacksonville win pushed the Bears up to 10th at 123.6 yards per game but didn't hide earlier inconsistency.

``We have to be solid in the run game,'' Davis said. ``We started up a little bit last week, got Matt over 100 and got 200 yards on the ground, which is big for us. So hopefully we'll shoot for getting him over 100 (against Detroit). We might not get 200, but that would be great too.''

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After releasing Martez Carter the Redskins are thin at running back

Associated Press

After releasing Martez Carter the Redskins are thin at running back

The Redskins are very thin at running back right now. 

Today at practice the Redskins had three running backs on the field. Rob Kelley and Kapri Bibbs are fully healthy while Chris Thompson is limited as he recovers from a broken leg he suffered last November. 

Injuries have hit the depth at running back. The most recent casualty was Martez Carter, who was waived with an injury designation. 

The move was surprising since Carter had some good runs against the Jets during their preseason game on Thursday and he did not appear to be injured during the game. 

Coach Jay Gruden did not offer any more details as to what the injury to Carter was, only that he is no longer with the team. 

Also sidelined with lower leg injuries are Samaje Perine and Byron Marshall. According to media reports, Perine will be out one week and Marshall for two to four. Gruden would not confirm the timelines, saying only that they are undergoing treatment and the timetable for their returns in unknown. 

The Redskins will bring in some running backs to try out on Sunday. They will need at least one and probably two in order to get through the upcoming preseason game against the Broncos on Friday. 

In other personnel moves, the Redskins waived linebacker Jeff Knox and defensive end Jalen Wilkerson and signed offensive tackle Kendall Calhoun, defensive back Darius Hillary, and wide receiver Allenzae Staggers. 

More Redskins news

-Redskins vs Jets: Must-see photos from the game
-AnalysisFive Redskins-Jets observations

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS and on Instagram @RichTandler


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Alex Ovechkin and wife Nastya Ovechkina welcome baby boy

NBC Sports Washington/USATSI

Alex Ovechkin and wife Nastya Ovechkina welcome baby boy

After lifting the Stanley Cup just over two months ago, something else very exciting has happened in Alex Ovechkin's life.

Saturday morning, Nastya and Alex Ovechkin welcomed their first child, a baby boy named Sergei, after Ovechkin's late brother. 

Ovi spent this week practicing at the Florida Panthers' facilities with other NHL players living in the surrounding area.

After the Cup's visit to Moscow, Nastya and Alex settled down at their apartment in Miami, staying put and preparing for the birth. 

The couple were married two years ago but didn't hold an official ceremony until July of last year. The celebration was as lavish as you'd expect.

She revealed her pregnancy shortly after the Cup victory, and has kept us up to date on life this summer via Instagram. A few weeks ago, the Ovechkins graced HELLO! Russia magazine, showing off Nastya's baby bump among their glamour shots.

💛 @aleksandrovechkinofficial #hello #hellorussia @hello__ru

A post shared by Nastasiya Ovechkina (@nastyashubskaya) on

Congratulations to Ovi and Nastya, and all our best wishes for health and happiness!