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Smith didn’t address any potential personnel moves at his news conference this afternoon. Pressed on the matter, he said go with the depth chart from this past week. But, again, Smith has never made personnel announcements on Mondays.
When it comes to Cutler, Smith said he is being “evaluated daily,” and then refused to shed much more light on the matter. His teammates are optimistic.
“I think he is feeling good,” tight end Greg Olsen said. “I think he felt good toward the end of the week and he was able to get some practice in and get some workouts and run around and get going so I think he is feeling pretty good.”
Has Cutler expressed confidence he will return to face the Seahawks?
“I’m sure he feels good about it,” Olsen said. “I’m sure Jay feels confident, like every player does, that he is going to be back as soon as possible.”
Smith also discussed other injured players:
Smith said left tackle Chris Williams, who has missed the last three games with a pulled right hamstring, could return this week. Smith also was optimistic about weak-side linebacker Lance Briggs, who left the game with a sprained ankle. He said Briggs could be back at practice Wednesday.
Lovie Smith’s summary of the game:
Coming into the game, we wanted to run the football, to try and establish the run to take a little bit of the pressure off of the passing game. I thought we did a good job of that. Starting off, we did get off to a good start right away. That kick off return set the tone. Going back to the run, that Forte is outstanding. Our entire running game was good. Says a lot about some of our new players playing offensive line. Edwin Williams, J’Marcus Webb getting that first start. I thought they did well. In the passing game, of course, we did what we had to do. There are things we have to improve on. You can’t turn the ball over that many times. The ball security has to improve. On the other side of the ball, once you get a lead, you have to be able to hold it. We’ve been up 17-3 here before and weren’t able to hold it, but the defense from start to finish, front, line backers, back end played well. I don’t know exactly how many sacks. We had good pressure on the quarterback. With a young quarterback, you have to be able to make him make some throws. Don’t like the way we started though, with them going down the field running football. That just can’t happen. Then the take-aways, they start coming, but once you get a lead and then start playing defense like that, it’s hard to win. Talk about all three phases, Special Teams, especially with the big returns really came through for us. Besides that, we needed to get a fourth win on the road, and we got it on the road against a good solid team. I know the record didn’t say it, but any time you play John Fox or Ron Meeks, or a defensive team, you know you have your hands full.
Lovie Smith on whether Caleb Hanie will start next week:
It’s a little too early for us to get into that. We’re just trying to enjoy this win right now. First off, hopefully Jay will be able to go and we won’t have to go down that road. Todd started today. Caleb came in. Both of those quarterbacks helped us win. That’s where we are right now. Hopefully we’ll get our third quarterback in the mix next week.
Matt Forte on his two touchdowns:
Great opportunities. The first one was a fake. They bit on the fake and were wide open. Johnny (Knox) had a great block on the DB in the endzone which allowed him to get into the endzone. That was easy. The second one we ran an outside zone play, I got the ball, read the blocks. Everybody was on a man. Make the safety miss the blocks and get a long run.
Julius Peppers on his interception:
[Geoff] Schwartz tried to cut me and he didn’t get me down. I was able to get my hand up. The ball popped straight up in the air. I was on my knees as everyone else was falling down around me. The ball just came right back to me and I pulled it in.
Israel Idonije on Peppers’ interception:
The guy’s incredible. That’s just one guy taking over that’s out on the field. Tip the ball, dive. The quarterback goes to knock it down and he catches it. The only thing left for him to do is to jump up and run it in the end zone. The guy is outstanding. He’s going to make his presence felt in the game. No matter what, he’s going to do that.
Charlotte, NC (Sports Network) - Matt Forte ran for a pair of touchdowns in the first quarter, as the Chicago Bears overcame a poor performance from veteran quarterback Todd Collins to beat the Carolina Panthers, 23-6, at Bank of America Stadium.
Forte carried the ball 22 times for a career-high 166 yards for the Bears (4-1), who bounced back from an ugly 17-3 loss to the Giants last Sunday. Jay Cutler was sacked nine times in that game and left with a concussion.
With Cutler recovering, Collins got his first start since 2007 when he was a member of the Redskins. Things did not go as planned for Collins, who completed just 6-of-16 passes for 32 yards and four interceptions. The 38- year-old was pulled at the end of the third quarter with a 6.2 passer rating.
On the defensive side of the ball for Chicago, five-time Pro Bowl selection Julius Peppers made his return to Carolina. The star defensive end left the Panthers in the offseason following an eight-year stint with the club.
Rookie Jimmy Clausen connected on 9-of-22 passes for 61 yards and one interception for Carolina (0-5), which is off to its worst start since opening the 1998 season 0-7.
Carolina, which has scored just five touchdowns this year, had only 147 total yards of offense. The horrific start leaves head coach John Fox on the hot seat.
Bears safety Danieal Manning got an action-packed first quarter started with a 62-yard return on the opening kickoff. On the fourth play, Forte sprinted to the left sideline and made his way into the end zone for an 18-yard score.
The Panthers scored their only points of the frame on the ensuing possession. John Kasay capped a nine-play, 55-yard drive with a 24-yard field goal to make it 7-3.
Another good return from Manning combined with Forte's 68-yard touchdown run immediately extended Chicago's lead to 14-3 with 7:35 remaining.
Peppers came back to haunt his old team on Carolina's ensuing possession. Clausen's pass was batted in the air by Peppers, who caught the football on his knees.
The Bears capitalized with a 28-yard Robbie Gould field goal to take a 17-3 lead with 4:37 to go in the first quarter.
Chicago drove the ball to the Panthers one-yard line on its next possession. It seemed like the Bears were ready to put the game away when Collins was picked off by defensive tackle Ed Johnson.
A scoreless second quarter featured a pair of Collins interceptions.
Carolina was faced with a 4th-and-1 from the Bears 28 with about 7 1/2 minutes to play in the third. The Panthers lined up to go for it, but a false start penalty moved the ball back five yards. That resulted in Kasay missing a 51- yard field goal.
Collins was intercepted for a fourth time on Chicago's next possession. Carolina was able to turn this turnover into a 53-yard Kasay field goal to cut the gap to 17-6 with 2:15 left in the third.
The Bears pulled Collins from the game in favor of Caleb Hanie, who was signed by Chicago as an undrafted free agent in 2008. Hanie, though, had the same luck under center, as the Bears finished the third quarter without a first down.
Chicago's initial first down of the second half came with under 12 minutes to play in the fourth. The Bears got to the Panthers 29, but a sack and false start penalty set up a 3rd-and-20 from the 41. Hanie's incomplete pass led to a punt.
Gould made a pair of field goals in the final 3:36 to account for the final margin.
The Bears lead the all-time regular season series with the Panthers, 3-2...Coming into the game, Chicago had zero rushing touchdowns this season...Carolina was without All-Pro wideout Steve Smith (ankle)...Hanie completed 2-of-3 passes for 19 yards...Matt Moore replaced Clausen in the fourth quarter and connected on 5-of-10 passes for 35 yards and two interceptions...The Panthers had 62 yards passing, compared to 29 for the Bears.
There’s 3:36 left in the game.
The Bears lost all five of those games. Amazingly enough, it appears they will win today despite Collins’ extremely poor performance.
UPDATE: The search I ran must have been flawed; there are about 20 such performances. However, today is only the third time the Bears have actually won with a QB with a passer rating this low.
From Sean Jensen again:
Caleb Hanie has been spotted warming up on the sidelines.
Oh, the humanity. Will Caleb Hanie get in the game?
The offenses have both been MIA most of the second half. Carolina’s John Kasay kicked a 51-yard field goal attempt wide right.
6:35 remains in the third quarter.
Carolina’s Jimmy Clausen didn’t play very well either, completing three of six for 20 yards and an interception.
Two of the interceptions were on tipped passes by defensive linemen, including one by Julius Peppers.
Sun-Times Bears beat writer Sean Jensen sums it up best:
The highest possible passer rating in the NFL is 158.3. Those ratings are… bad. Actual ratings at halftime, shortly after that tweet: Collins 12.9, Clausen 18.1.
The play was challenged by the Bears; the play was allowed to stand and the Bears were charged with a timeout.
On the next play, Chester Taylor appeared to fumble but was ruled down by contact. The Panthers challenged the ruling but lost and were charged with a timeout.
On the next play, third-and-one, Todd Collins was intercepted.
Peppers knocked a pass high in the air and caught it for an interception. The Bears took over at the Carolina 32.
There’s 7:35 left in the first quarter; the Bears lead 14-3.
The Panthers have not scored a TD in the first quarter this year.
There is 7:55 remaining in the first quarter.
13:15 remains in the first quarter.
(Sports Network) – Carolina Panthers head coach John Fox has been on the hot seat before and may have found his way back.
Off to their worst start since opening the 1998 season 0-7, the winless Panthers hope a visit from former defensive star Julius Peppers and the Chicago Bears Sunday at Bank of America Stadium will feature better results.
The Panthers are one of four winless teams in the league at 0-4, joining Detroit, San Francisco and Buffalo, and have one of the youngest rosters as well. They have struggled in all facets of the game, with the offense near the bottom in all major categories. Averaging 11.5 points per game through the first four weeks usually doesn’t get much going in the win department.
Carolina almost upset defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans last week in the Superdome before eventually taking a 16-14 loss back to Charlotte. Rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen, who is expected to make his third start Sunday, threw the first touchdown pass of his career against the NFC South-rival Saints and finished with a 90.6 passer rating. Rookie wide receiver David Gettis had the most receiving yards, gaining 37 on two catches.
“We played hard against the defending champs, but that doesn’t put a ‘W’ in the win column,” Gettis said after the game. “We’ve got to combine the effort with making plays. That’s how we’ll get our win.”
Getting a win against the Bears and their suspect pass defense may be even tougher with All-Pro wideout Steve Smith hampered with a sprained ankle. Smith suffered the injury in the third quarter of last week’s game and has been wearing a protective boot. He said jokingly how Reebok may be able to figure out a way to get cleats on the bottom of the boot, but that’s obviously not going to happen. But what will really go down is rookie receivers Gettis and Brandon LaFell seeing more of the field if Carolina’s main target is out. Maybe even rookie and two-time Walter Payton Award winner Armanti Edwards will see time.
Carolina, which has scored only five touchdowns and committed 13 turnovers so far this season, played well on defense against the Saints’ high-powered offense, which produced its longest play of the game on a pass interference call on cornerback Chris Gamble.
Chicago has a few intriguing storylines heading into this southern showdown with the Panthers. It’s not as big as Donovan McNabb’s return to Philadelphia, but Peppers’ return to Carolina will surely strike up a few conversations. Peppers left the team and signed with the Bears this offseason after a bitter dispute and said this week his departure was “a little sour”. Either way, the new Bears defensive end established himself as one of the top pass rushers of this decade with 81 sacks, six interceptions, 30 forced fumbles and two touchdowns in 122 regular season games over an eight-year stint in Carolina.
Peppers, the second overall pick of the 2002 NFL Draft, has just two sacks in his first campaign with the Bears, who got him some help by signing free-agent end Charles Grant this week. Mark Anderson was cut to make room for Grant, a former staple on the Saints’ defensive line a few years ago. He was with the Omaha Nighthawks of the United Football League and is grateful to have another shot in the NFL.
“Coming from the UFL to here is different,” Grant said. “I’d like to tell young guys to take advantage of the National Football League because it’s truly a blessing to play at this level of football and you don’t know it until you’re out of it. When you know you can still play, don’t give up on it.”
The Bears will not have starting quarterback Jay Cutler for this week due to a concussion suffered in last Sunday’s 17-3 loss to the New York Giants. Cutler was sacked nine times before giving way to backup Todd Collins, who was named starting quarterback on Thursday. It was Chicago’s first loss of the season after beginning the year 3-0 and easily Cutler’s worst performance in a Bears uniform.
Cutler has made steady progress and will continue to work out on a limited basis through the end of the week. Collins was also injured against the Giants and third-stringer Caleb Hanie saw action.
Chicago allowed a franchise-record 10 sacks last week and played the second half without Cutler. Trouble on the line has been part of the problem, while tight coverage and missed blocks have also been to blame. Bears left tackle Chris Williams has been sidelined with a pulled hamstring and right guard Lance Louis left Sunday’s game with a knee injury. Edwin Williams took over for Louis and Frank Omiyale has started the past two games at left tackle.
Louis was back at practice in a limited basis this week.
The all-time regular season series between Chicago and Carolina is knotted at 2-2, with the Panthers evening the series by virtue of a 20-17 home victory when the teams last met, in Week 2 of the 2008 season. The Bears won the previous meeting, taking a 13-3 decision at Soldier Field in 2005. The Bears are 0-2 in Carolina all-time, and the home team has won all four meetings in the regular season series.
In addition to the regular season series, the teams have also met once in the postseason, as the Panthers were 29-21 winners in a 2005 NFC Divisional Playoff from Soldier Field.
Fox is 3-1 all-time against Chicago, and the Bears’ Lovie Smith is 1-2 against both Fox and the Panthers as a head coach.
WHEN THE BEARS HAVE THE BALL
With Cutler out for Sunday’s game, the Bears will have to use running back Matt Forte more often against a Panthers defense that is worse against the run than the pass. That’s why it will be tough not to have Cutler in the lineup directing coordinator Mike Martz’s pass-happy scheme. Cutler (912 passing yards, 6 TD, 3 INT) was bombarded by the Giants’ pass rush last week and will have a streak of 57 consecutive starts end. Collins (36 passing yards, 1 INT) has played 15 NFL seasons and nailed down the backup spot during the preseason. The offense remained stagnant when he entered the game in New York and threw for 36 yards and an interception on 4-of-11 passing before leaving with a neck stinger. Hanie is the third quarterback and was 3-for-4 for 36 yards on Chicago’s last possession. Meanwhile, Forte (134 rushing yards) hasn’t been dominant on the ground, but is second on the team with 209 receiving yards and three scores on a team-best 16 receptions.
Carolina is probably happy to see Collins rather than Cutler, since it’s allowing 220.8 passing yards per game this season. It played tough against Drew Brees in New Orleans despite the loss, but allowed the Saints to finish 8-for-14 on third-down conversions. Since the Saints kept the ball for over 38 minutes, the Panthers recorded the third-fewest offensive snaps (47) in franchise history. Carolina must play better up front too, as it is giving up more than 113 yards per game on the ground. Ends Charles Johnson (11 tackles, 2 sacks) and Tyler Brayton (4 tackles) are probably anxious to play this game after the 10 sacks Chicago’s offensive line surrendered last week. Tackles Derek Landri (17 tackles) and Ed Johnson (9 tackles) are big enough to keep the Bears’ anemic ground attack in check with the help of leading tackler and middle linebacker Dan Connor (28 tackles, 1 sack). Strong safety Charles Godfrey (26 tackles, 3 INT) is among the league leaders in interceptions with three.
WHEN THE PANTHERS HAVE THE BALL
Steve Smith’s possible absence will open doors for the younger receivers on the team such as Gettis (7 receptions) and LaFell (4 receptions). Smith (13 receptions, 2 TD) is the only receiver on the roster with a touchdown catch and leads the team in receptions. Running back Mike Goodson and tight end Dante Rosario are tied with nine catches apiece, while Gettis has seven. Carolina is 28th in passing this season but is breaking in rookie Clausen (393 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT), who has been showing improvement as each week goes by and enjoyed his most efficient performance of the year at New Orleans. He was sacked a career-high three times last week, something he hopes to avoid Sunday with Peppers on the prowl. Left tackle Jordan Gross, Clausen’s blind-side protector, said he owes a lot of credit to Peppers for going against him for several years. Gross credited Peppers for all of the moves and tactics other defensive ends try to use and hopes to know what his former teammate will have in store for his homecoming. Running back DeAngelo Williams (266 rushing yards, 1 TD) had his best game of the season against the Saints, running for 86 yards and his first score of the year. He has been used more often than fellow back Jonathan Stewart (89 rushing yards, 1 TD), who had a 55-yard catch in Sunday’s loss.
All eyes will be on Peppers (7 tackles, 2 sacks) this week as he makes his return to Carolina. He was lured by the Bears with a big contract this offseason and is slowly coming along with his new team. The five-time Pro Bowl selection and former University of North Carolina star said he’s looking forward to this week and enjoyed his memories as a Panther. Chicago hopes its memories of last week’s loss to the Giants will produce different results on Sunday. It had trouble stopping the run, as Ahmad Bradshaw ran for 129 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries. The Bears hope the addition of Grant will result in more sacks and inspire some other players to step up. Safety Danieal Manning (25 tackles) finished with a game-high 11 stops last week and is third on the team in tackles. When defensive backs are finishing with more tackles than lineman and linebackers, something’s wrong up front. The Bears are 10th against the pass and sixth in defending the run, but still struggled in their latest game. Linebackers Brian Urlacher (30 tackles, 1 sack) and Lance Briggs (28 tackles, 1 INT) combined for only eight tackles last week.
Cutler’s status leaves most owners in a pickle, and his performance against the Giants may have forced a few to cut the strong-armed quarterback. Even with Cutler out, Collins is not worth a start. Forte has been brutal on the ground this season, but catching passes in Martz’s scheme keeps him relevant in most leagues. He has a solid shot at breaking out against a Panthers defense weak against the run. There aren’t many other choices from Chicago’s offense, but wideout Johnny Knox has potential this week. With Peppers coming back to Carolina, give the Bears defense a look too.
Carolina is also in a world of hurt fantasy-wise with Clausen and a bunch of other rookie wideouts. Steve Smith will most likely be on the sidelines and DeAngelo Williams is always a valuable option at running back. The same holds true for Stewart, who connected with Clausen for the rookie’s first NFL touchdown pass last week.
Sunday’s game between the Bears and Panthers should leave the grass chewed up with all the running that will take place. Cutler is already ruled out and Steve Smith is leaving a few Carolina rookie wideouts on standby due to a severe ankle injury. He said himself this week that he’s day-to-day, but wearing a protective boot is usually not a promising sign. Seeing Peppers on the opposite side of the field may not be good either for both Clausen and the Panthers, as his emotions will surely be running feverishly. There will be no quarterback controversy for the Bears after this one, but it would nice for those in the Windy City to rebound from a horrific trip to the Big Apple.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Bears 20, Panthers 13
Chicago Breaking Sports reports that the team is thinking about bringing back defensive tackle Alfonso Boone:
The Bears have held internal discussions about a familiar player, defensive tackle Alfonso Boone. The 34-year-old was released Wednesday by the Chargers, who have been hit with injuries in the secondary and at linebacker and used the roster spot to sign veteran safety Tyrone Carter.
The 11-year veteran spent the first seven seasons of his career with the Bears, playing in 12 games in 2006 when the team went to Super Bowl XLI. Boone appeared in 13 games for the Chargers last season and made a career-high three sacks. He also played two seasons for the Chiefs after leaving the Bears.
Via Chicago Breaking Sports, here’s the scoop on Chris Williams:
Left tackle Chris Williams is officially out for Sundays game at Carolina with a hamstring strain, Bears coach Lovie Smith said.
With Jay Cutler out and Todd Collins starting, Caleb Hanie moves up to be the Bears’ No. 2 quarterback Sunday. But what if Collins and Hanie both get hurt and the Bears need to go to a third option — as they did last Sunday? Coach Lovie Smith isn’t telling:
‘’We have an emergency plan,’’ Smith said Thursday. ‘’Most of the time, you don’t get to that third quarterback in a game. Very, very seldom does it happen. But I’ll just say without going into that and giving away too much more about our game plan, we have a guy in mind, maybe a couple of guys in mind, if we get down to No. 3. Hopefully we won’t get to No. 3.’’
Via Chicago Breaking Sports, Bears starting left tackle Chris Williams did not practice today. He has a hamstring strain:
Williams suffered the injury against the Cowboys and has missed the last two games. Safety Major Wright also remains out with a hamstring strain
I had multiple concussions during my career, and I talked about this in a column over at the Chicago Tribune a couple of weeks back. I came back and played the following week in the 2003 season after suffering a black out concussion—complete with amnesia—and I felt the impact on that field. Hit Steve Smith on a post route in Carolina and laid on the ground—again.
Stupid move? Of course, now, looking back on it. Being retired makes you think that way. But, for current players, taking the proper course of action after a head injury, and after a game like Cutler had Sunday night in the loss to the Giants is the smart move—and the only move the Bears should make this Sunday.
Concussions are serious business. The Minnesota Twins’ Justin Morneau is out for the entire postseason after a midseason concussion — and baseball isn’t nearly the violent game that football is. Morneau’s career could be over. The Bears are wise to sit Cutler — because if he got hit again like he did last Sunday, more than his career could end.
Cutler suffered a concussion last week when he was driven from a loss to the New York Giants after being sacked nine times in the first half. His streak of 57 straight games started, which dates to his rookie year, will end.
According to Sun-Times columnist Rick Telander, Jay Cutler usually talks to the media on Wednesdays, but yesterday he was nowhere to be seen:
Cutler was somewhere at Halas Hall. And he did, apparently, come onto the field during the ensuing closed practice. ‘’He was able to do some things, of course,’’ said coach Lovie Smith, not saying what those things were.
With the new concussion awareness in the NFL on down to the Pee-Wee leagues, Cutler’s brain injury — however slight — can’t be taken lightly. Not by the Bears, the league, the ’’independent’’ neurologist who must OK Cutler’s return, nor by the quarterback himself.
And since Cutler didn’t say anything, we will have to wait until at least today to see how he feels, if his diabetes had anything to do with him incurring his final seven sacks in just 13 minutes of game time, if he thinks he is being overly protected and that way too big a deal is being made of this.
If Cutler can’t play, it will be Todd Collins starting, not Caleb Hanie, even though Hanie outplayed Collins on Sunday night:
Collins was ineffective after replacing Cutler at halftime Sunday night. He completed 4 of 11 passes for 42 yards with an interception and a passer rating of 8.1. But Collins, signed during the preseason when Caleb Hanie was sidelined with a shoulder injury, still is the No. 2.
’’That’s our judgment,‘’ Martz said. ’’Todd’s a guy who has played a great deal and won and played exceptionally well at this level. We know what he is. He demonstrated that in the preseason. It’s just a question of getting him a little bit more familiar.’’
We’ll update this StoryStream with more information when it’s available.
Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, who suffered a mild concussion against the Giants, was wearing a helmet and participated in practice Wednesday.
Cutler officially was listed as limited on the practice report. Guard Lance Louis also was listed as limited.
Cutler, who was knocked out of Sunday's game against the Giants, did not have his usual Wednesday media session. He is expected to be ready to play against Carolina on Sunday.
Keep checking this StoryStream for updates on Cutler's condition and availability and other information on the Bears/Panthers game on Sunday, which will begin at noon CDT and be televised on Fox-32.
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