Beyond DE and WR, Bears will not be idle

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Beyond DE and WR, Bears will not be idle

The league-wide focus on the elite members of the free-agent class of 2012 has been on a handful of superstars who will command money that will confirm them as franchise players even without any teams tag designating them as such.

The Bears have made a pass rusher and wide receiver their two top needs but what happens after that will have some significant impact on the fortunes of a team that believes itself close to playing for a Roman numeral trophy.

In order of descending priority, three areas with anticipated Bears sightings:

Cornerback: The Baltimore Ravens did not sign Chris Carr, 29 this season, who played all 16 games in his first six years before missing seven in 2011. At 5-foot-10, he has experience but not a top-shelf starters price tag. Brandon Carr has not missed a game in four seasons as a Kansas City Chief as is a Charles Tillman-like 6-feet, 205 pounds. Carr also is someone with whom GM Phil Emery is very familiar from Emerys time in K.C.

Tight end: Lovie Smith has extolled the qualities and upside of Kellen Davis. Whether Davis is adequate to the expected role of a tight end in the offense of Mike TiceJeremy Bates is open to question, however. John Carlson, a former second-rounder out of Notre Dame, missed all of 2011 with a shoulder injury suffered in a training-camp practice. Joel Dreesen could join Amobi Okoye and (possibly) Mario Williams from the Houston Texans to Chicago. Dreesen is rated a bargain by ProFootballFocus.com and the sixth-rated TE by the stats analysts at PFF with receiver skills.

Quarterback: David Garrard has been a starter (Jacksonville) who is working back from injury and willing to take a berth as a backup. Jason Campbells broken right collarbone re-opened the career door for Carson Palmer in Oakland and Campbell has been closely evaluated by the Bears. Campbell had the Raiders off to a 4-2 record before his injury and rates as the sleeper in efforts to upgrade the No. 2 spot at quarterback. Despite the lack of immediate activity on a new deal, Josh McCown is expected back to at the very least compete for a roster spot.

Brandon Marshall doesn't remember 3 TD game from Bears-49ers in 2014 because he was on pain pills

Brandon Marshall doesn't remember 3 TD game from Bears-49ers in 2014 because he was on pain pills

Remember back in 2014 when the Bears rallied from a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter to beat the 49ers 28-20 in San Francisco on Sunday Night Football?

Well, Brandon Marshall doesn't.

And he had three of the four touchdown catches, two of them coming in the last quarter.

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The former Bears wide receiver, who had been dealing with a high ankle sprain, said he took pain pills before the game and doesn't recall much of it, including the incredible one-handed grab that went viral.

"I don't really remember much about that game because I worked really hard to get back from a high ankle (sprain)," Marshall said during a conference call Wednesday. "I'll say it, I took a couple pain pills that masked the pain. I really wasn't supposed to play. I came back from a high ankle (sprain) within 10 days. I was supposed to be out four to six weeks. I don't remember much from that game. I just remember catching those balls. And that was pretty much it."

If only Bears fans could forget that season entirely, which ended in a 5-11 record and the end of the Marc Trestman era.

Bears win over 49ers nets DE Akiem Hicks NFL defensive honor

Bears win over 49ers nets DE Akiem Hicks NFL defensive honor

It may have been just a distant similarity to players on an MLB cellar-dweller earning a Cy Young or MVP award (which happens in Chicago, a lot – Andre Dawson, Ernie Banks twice), but to the Bears it matters. Defensive end Akiem Hicks was named NFC defensive player of the week after his dominating performance in the Bears win last Sunday over the San Francisco 49ers, and he is not alone among Bears getting recognition after one of their few victories.

Never mind that the victory moved the Bears to 3-9 and came over a team losing its 11th straight game. What Hicks accomplished – two sacks, 10 tackles, a quarterback hit, a forced fumble – was being a force in the Bears’ domination of the 49ers and has been part of the emotional core of a team that has lost but not folded.

“It’s easy to say, ‘We’re not getting the results we want,’ but guys have invested,” Hicks said. “I’ve told guys, ‘just think about the hours you’ve invested, to get your body and mind ready for a 16-game season. Why would you put all that work in and then, when you don’t get the results you want, just quit?’"

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Jordan Howard is one of the nominees for the FedEx Air & Ground NFL player of the week. Howard, who posted his fifth 100-yard rushing game of the year, could be a double-winner: He also is among the nominees for Pepsi NFL rookie of the week, as is teammate Leonard Floyd (two sacks, safety, four tackles).

Voting on the latter two awards is still open.

Hicks’ play vs. San Francisco boosted him to a career-best six sacks, and he credited Bears coaches afterwards with giving him opportunities to rush the passer, not simply be utilized as a run-stopper. He has been everything and perhaps a little more than the Bears anticipated when they signed him this offseason to a two-year contract worth $10 million, with $5 million guaranteed.

“I think he's done well,” said defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. “It's a credit to him, a credit to Jay [Rodgers, defensive line coach]. Akiem has kept improving throughout the season, and he's been one of the guys that have been there each and every week, playing a lot of plays for us, and he's been a steady bell cow for us in there.”