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.

Team USA captures first World Baseball Classic championship

Team USA captures first World Baseball Classic championship

For the first time in the history of the World Baseball Classic, the United States of America walked away champions.

Team USA bested Puerto Rico in blowout fashion on Wednesday night in Los Angeles, winning the championship game by an 8-0 score at Dodger Stadium.

White Sox relief pitchers David Robertson and Nate Jones were part of the championship-winning American roster. Robertson pitched in Wednesday's game, closing things out with a scoreless ninth inning.

Cubs infielder Javy Baez came up short as a member of the Puerto Rican team. Baez went 0-for-3 with a strikeout on Wednesday.

Blue Jays starting pitcher Marcus Stroman dominated the Puerto Rican lineup, pitching six no-hit innings before surrendering the first hit in the seventh inning.

The Americans crossed home plate eight times on the night, getting a two-run home run from Tigers infielder Ian Kinsler and two-run hits from Christian Yelich and Brandon Crawford. Andrew McCutchen also drove in two, and Kinsler and Nolan Arenado scored two runs apiece.

The Puerto Ricans mustered just three hits.

This was the first time the United States even advanced to the championship game in the four times the event has been staged. It's just the second top-four finish for the Americans. They finished fourth in 2009.

Bulls supportive of Robin Lopez after one-game suspension following Serge Ibaka scrap

Bulls supportive of Robin Lopez after one-game suspension following Serge Ibaka scrap

Although the punches didn't connect, the NBA was not going to take the Robin Lopez-Serge Ibaka confrontation lightly, suspending each one game Wednesday afternoon.

Lopez served his time in the Bulls' surprising 117-95 win over the Detroit Pistons at the United Center. Per league rules, Lopez was not allowed on team property but he did speak to head coach Fred Hoiberg when the team returned from Toronto after the Bulls' heartbreaking overtime loss Tuesday.

Lopez will return to the Bulls lineup Friday against the Philadelphia 76ers, a relief to the Bulls considering the league could've taken a harsher stance with Lopez — a two- or three-game suspension was being mulled at the league office, sources tell CSNChicago.com

Lopez was pushed into Ibaka after Jimmy Butler hit a three in the second half, and the two combatants squared off underneath the rim, with officials, teammates and coaches trying to separate them.

Ibaka appeared to have his arm reaching at Lopez's neck, prompting Lopez to swing at Ibaka. He missed, and Ibaka grazed Lopez's face with a wild swing of his own.

Both were ejected after being separated and shortly thereafter, the Raptors begun their run from being down 15 points to end the Bulls' recent mastery over them.

Despite the effect, Lopez had the full support of his teammates and coaching staff.

"I think you ask anybody in that locker room, Robin Lopez is one of the most if not the most popular guy on this team," Hoiberg said. "He's a guy that goes out and approaches his job the same way every day. He goes to work. He never complains. He does what's asked of him. Also if you asked them, they'd tell you he's as passionate of a guy as we have on this team as well. He's got a fire to him that you just don't ever want to take away."

That fire clearly got underneath Lopez and Ibaka, causing Lopez to lunge at Ibaka. Telling from the immediate reaction from the Bulls players and from Hoiberg and associate coach Jim Boylen, it seems as if it wasn't the first time Lopez's engine ran a little hot.

"This game gets very competitive obviously, it gets heated at times," Hoiberg said. "That happened last night. It's unfortunate what went down, but we've all got Robin's back. I think everybody in this organization, from the players all the way to up top, has Robin's back. We'll deal with it and move on. We'll be happy to have him in the lineup Friday."

Lopez averages 10.3 points and 6.5 rebounds in 27.9 minutes per game, slightly higher than his career averages through his nine NBA seasons.

Considering the play seemed relatively tame, it was slightly puzzling to see both players go at each other so ferociously but there appeared to be more to the story than first blush.

"There's always more going on than it appears," Hoiberg said. "You go back and watch on film, there's little jabs that happen in the course of the game and sometimes it reaches the boiling point. Robin is a guy that plays this game with a lot of passion, and you don't ever want to see something like that happen, but it did. And again, you move on."

Normally, Lopez attacks mascots during timeouts or pregame warm-ups, so nobody felt Lopez was looking for an altercation, and considering it only cost him a game — one the Bulls won anyways — Hoiberg didn't seem too stressed about it beforehand.

"Yeah, you know, Robin's going to have our guys' backs as much as anybody in the locker room," Hoiberg said. "Again, you look in that locker room, all those guys are going to have each other's back, Robin as much as anybody. Unfortunately, it happened. It looked like it was a little hip check, they turned around and got squared off, and we all know what happened. Again, we'll all be excited to have Robin back in the lineup on Friday."