Audibles working even with 'strangers' up front

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Audibles working even with 'strangers' up front

One of the changes brought to the offense with the installation of Mike Tice as coordinator was the license for quarterback Jay Cutler to audible. One of the most impressive elements in last Sundays win over the Minnesota Vikings was Cutler being able to use audibles despite a makeshift offensive line that had three new players by the fourth quarter.

Coach Tice came in with a good game plan and we had some good audibles if we got an unfamiliar defensive package, said Jonathan Scott, starting his first game as a Bear at right tackle. Jay did a great job controlling that environment. We had some second- and third-down conversions that really changed the game.

For his part, Cutler was not going to audible to a play with complexities beyond the capabilities of a group still getting to know each other. And against Seattle, ranked No. 7 in sacks per pass attempt, that will remain the order.

We just have to be careful what we ask those guys to do, make sure theyre on the same page and protect them, Cutler said. You dont want to do a lot of sevens step drops and chuck the ball 40, 50 times. Theyre not programmed for that. Theyre in new positions. Some guys havent even played guard. We just have to be smart with it.

Not lost in translation

A second novelty was the thought process that both Gabe Carimi and Edwin Williams went through translating plays from their usual positions to the assignments with the new ones.

Carimi, a tackle was playing his first game at guard. After the call in the huddle, Carimi made a quick mental adjustment from the tackle assignment that was second-nature to the one for a guard.

The plays are different so you have to know what the play calls are because youre doing different blocking, Carimi said. There were a couple things where I was a little off about but it went pretty well.

Of course, Carimi had a translator immediately to his left: center Roberto Garza, whose responsibilities include knowing every assignment on the line.

He was telling me what to do, Garza said, with a wink. No, Gabes a professional, he knows what hes doing, has played offensive line a long time, and he did a helluva job stepping in.

Williams practice position has been primarily center this season, with Lance Louis, Chris Spencer and Chilo Rachal comprising the depth chart at guard. With them out, Williams had to do some translating of his own, although he has played guard in each of the past two seasons although with Tice as his position coach and Mike Martz as coordinator.

You make the changes but once you get into the rhythm you dont have to think about it too much, Williams said.

Bears Pulse

In case I forget to mention it (again), check out Bears Pulse on game days at CSNChicago.com. Its bringing together a lot of Bears coverage from everywhere and its where Ill be covering the Bears-Seattle Seahawks in-game via Twitter (@CSNMoonMullin). Lots of fun and lots of action.

Whats particularly fun about it is that I can pass along side info about game happenings as we learn about them in the press box and from material you cant find in just any book.

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Five Things from Blackhawks-Canucks: Corey Crawford rebounds

Five Things from Blackhawks-Canucks: Corey Crawford rebounds

The Blackhawks’ starts have been all over the map this season but their finishes have usually been strong. That was the case again on Sunday night as the Blackhawks took a lead, lost a lead and regained a lead for good in their 4-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks.

This one featured a little bit of everything. So let’s just get to the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ victory over Vancouver.

1. Jonathan Toews breaks through. If the Blackhawks captain’s confidence was a little shaken with his lack of scoring this season, it should’ve gotten a boost with his Sunday outing. Toews’ goal and three assists were as big for him as they were the Blackhawks, who needed every bit of it late against the Canucks. In his last 12 games Toews has three goals and eight assists. He’s getting there. Said coach Joel Quenneville, “it seems like he was around the puck way more and when he does that, usually good things happen.”

2. Great start. This hasn’t been written very often but it was more than evident on Sunday night. If this wasn’t the Blackhawks’ best opening period of the season it was pretty close, as they broke out to a 2-0 lead against the Canucks. The Blackhawks, outside of a 3 ½-minute sequence without a shot on goal, were tenacious and ready to shoot, taking an 18-9 shots-on-goal edge in that first.

3. Corey Crawford rebounds. Quenneville considered Scott Darling for this game, an understandable thought with Darling coming off a 30-stop shutout. But he wanted Crawford to get back to where he was prior to his appendectomy, and Crawford took a step in that direction on Sunday night. In stopping 26 of 28 shots Crawford got his 18th victory of the season and 200th of his career. Quenneville said Crawford “looked like he was in control.”

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4. Michal Kempny’s tough stretch. When Kempny has been good this season he’s been very good. When he’s been bad... The defenseman was in the penalty box when the Canucks scored their first goal and he was beaten by Bo Horvat on the Canucks’ second goal. Kempny didn’t play the final 14 minutes of the game. Quenneville, who liked what Kempny brought on the team’s road trip, said Kempny just has to work through some things. “Coverage with awareness and knowing sometimes it’s man coverage, sometimes it’s playing the puck and clearing the loose stuff,” Quenneville said. “Defenseman is a tough position as you’re growing and learning it, but the more you play the better you play and I still think he’s making progress.”

5. Brian Campbell gets to keep No. 500 this time. Campbell thought he had his 500th point against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night but it was taken away. Well he got it back on Sunday night, setting up Richard Panik’s 11th goal of the season in the first period.