Chicago Bears

Bears-Vikings at TCF Bank Stadium not certain

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Bears-Vikings at TCF Bank Stadium not certain

Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2010
1:56 PM Updated 4:06 PM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

The Minnesota Vikings are determined to have their game against the Bears next Monday in Minneapolis. It is still not a stone-cold lock.

Defensive end Israel Idonije said Wednesday that players have not been told where the game will be played. The choices are the University of Minnesotas TCF Bank Stadium or Ford Field in Detroit, because the Metrodome cannot be repaired in time after its disastrous tear last weekend due to snow.

The Vikings and the NFL will cover the expenses of re-opening TCF Bank Stadium, for which costs could reach as high as 700,000. But the call went out Wednesday that the university needed more volunteers to clear the snow from TCF Banks grounds, meaning this is not a certainty until there is an official announcement that its game-on, and that hasnt been made.

Theres also a forecast of 3-6 inches of snow. The target area was south and west of the metropolitan area but if there is certainty with weather, it is just thatwell, its...umm...well, something. Ill get back to you on that.

Generally the location of a game is only marginally part of game planning vs. the specifics of an opponent. But for special teams in particular, whether the game is at an outdoor stadium or indoors will materially affect planning.

On the kick return game we have to decide and figure out where were going to make our double teams if its outside, said special teams coordinator Dave Toub. The kicks are shorter. Everything moves up. We have a different plan for outdoors than we would for indoors. Wherever they want to kick it, itll be there if its indoors. If its not, we have to plan for the other. For us on special teams it is a big difference so the sooner we find out, the better.

Fluid situation

As weve been saying at CSNChicago.com for the last day-plus, the Bears and Minnesota Vikings are going to play Monday night but it is also increasingly less likely that theyll be playing in Minneapolis and the Vikings themselves are describing things as this fluid situation.

Repairing the Metrodome is out and now the Vikings confirm that NFL officials are touring the University of Minnesotas TCF Bank Stadium Wednesday to assess its workability as the alternative site. Notably as well, the team is noting in the second sentence of its statement that the decision ultimately is the NFLs, so the Vikings arent ducking the decision but making sure it doesnt reflect badly back on the organization when the second straight home game is shipped off to Detroit.

Lets see how you read the Vikings statement:

At this time, NFL officials are touring TCF Bank Stadium to ensure its safety for our fans and its ability to meet the primary technical requirements for an NFL game. Ultimately the decision to re-locate a game is the league's in consultation with the two teams. The NFL supports the plan to play Monday night's game at TCF Bank Stadium but is currently ensuring viability of this plan.

At the same time, the Vikings and the University of Minnesota are diligently working through all of the issues associated with moving a game such as tickets, parking, and operations. The organization is working to accommodate our fans questions, and we will continue to inform them on this fluid situation as soon as more information is available.

The brouhaha over the game venue didnt command all of the attention Wednesday.

Bears long snapper Pat Mannelly was picked, by USA Football and the NFL players association, as one of 26 players on the 2010 All-Fundamentals Team. And it couldnt happen to a classier, more deserving individual. More on that later.

The award is given to 11 offensive, 11 defensive and 4 special-teams players based on consistency with the fundamentals of their positions and for making a positive impact on their communities. Pat is not only a 13-year veteran who is among the true elite at his position, but also he is a spokesman for the American Lung Associations Athletes and Asthma Program as well as operator of longsnapper.com, a website he started as a means of instructing young players at the position.

Its a great honor for Pat, very well deserved, said special-teams coordinator Dave Toub. His technique is second to none. The fact that he has a website called longsnapper.com where thousands of young kids go to pretty much every year to find out how to long snap tells you a lot about Pat and how important he feels that technique and proper fundamentals are.

The reason behind the website was boredom, Mannelly said, laughing. No, actually, it was. It was during an offseason when I was bored, and I was looking on the Internet and I noticed there was nothing out there about long snapping. In high school, fortunately I had a brother who was 5 years older who went to Notre Dame, and he wanted to learn how to long snap and he was handed a pamphlet of how to long snap, so he got his information through a pamphlet.

Looking on the Internet, there was nothing out there on how to long snap, so I just wanted to put the information out there: how to hold the ball, how to snap it, all that stuff, so hopefully a kid like me who wanted to learn how to do it could just type up something and get the information.

But the lessons from Pat reach far, far beyond the fundamentals of long snapping.

Ive had the good fortune of covering the Bears through Pats entire career and have repeated and re-told something he once told me. Pat was one of the most sought-after high school offensive linemen in the nation coming out of high school in Georgia. USC, Notre Dame, Georgia, pick a power, Pat heard from them.

He chose Duke, about as far from a football power as there was at the time.

Pats reasoning was simple. He looked very critically at chances of reaching the NFL, even for a top lineman like himself, and he realized that if youre good enough to play in the NFL, they will find you. It really didnt matter where you played. Given that the Bears have starters from West Texas A&M, two from Abilene Christian, two from Louisiana-Lafayette all of them drafted. Pat went to Duke. They found him; he was drafted, in 1998, same year as Olin Kreutz.

What that translated into for Pat was a decision to use his athletic skill as a lottery ticket to cash in for the best education he felt suited him. That was in history and also with the economics foundation he wanted.

If youre good enough, the NFL indeed will find you. If youre smart enough, youll make the kind of decision Pat did.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

WATCH: Deonte Thompson channels inner Devin Hester with 109-yard return in Bears preseason game

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AP

WATCH: Deonte Thompson channels inner Devin Hester with 109-yard return in Bears preseason game

It's been a while since Devin Hester electrified the city of Chicago with his touchdown returns, but we got flashbacks of that Saturday night.

Deonte Thompson took a page out of the book of arguably the best returner in NFL history by returning a 109-yard missed field goal to the house as the first half expired during the Bears' second preseason game in Arizona.

It gave the Bears a 17-7 lead, and even had John Fox going crazy on the sideline:

Deonte Thompson, you are ridiculous?

Five Bears who can improve their stock Saturday night against Arizona

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USA Today Sports Images

Five Bears who can improve their stock Saturday night against Arizona

1. QB Mike Glennon

The Bears’ first team offense as a whole could be included under this subhead, whether it’s the offensive line creating holes for a running back (Jordan Howard won't play with a minor corneal abrasion) or the receivers creating more separation to get open. But the onus is on Glennon to be better than he was Thursday night and prove that 0.0 quarterback rating was the product of a small sample size and not a sign of more serious issues. On the other side of things, a bad game from Glennon only would lead to further questions about his ability to succeed as the Bears’ starting quarterback. 

“I mean, (this game is) bigger than the first but not as big as the third,” Glennon said. “I don’t really know how else to say it. Everything gets more amplified Week 1 to 2, 2 to 3 and then ultimately the season opener. Obviously I want to go out and play well but I don’t want to make too big a deal and put too much pressure on a preseason game.” 

2. WR Kevin White

Cameron Meredith can do a lot to help Glennon’s case, but the Bears have a good idea of what they have in the third-year receiver who’s been one of the more steady performers during training camp. Kevin White is in a different position, having not been targeted at all against the Denver Broncos and still needing to prove plenty going into his third year in the NFL. White’s growth this year may be slow, but he needs to show some signs of that growth during preseason games to build up some confidence for Sept. 10. 

“Anytime you go through some injuries, there’s a whole mental game that plays a part of it,” fellow wide receiver Victor Cruz (more on him in a bit) said. “Just talking to him – I think he’s over it. He understands those things are behind him. His confidence is back in his body with the things that he can do. You’re starting to see that out there on the football field. He’s really hitting another gear, catching these balls, going deep down the field and putting pressure on these defensive backs.”

3. WR Victor Cruz

It was a little jarring to see Cruz, a Super Bowl-winning former Pro Bowler, playing until the final snap of Thursday’s game — even if that had something to do with the Bears not having Daniel Braverman available and losing Rueben Randle and Joshua Bellamy to injuries during the game. But Cruz hasn’t seemed to significantly push Kendall Wright for the No. 1 slot receiver job over the last few weeks, and could find himself on the roster bubble by the end of the month. A good showing Saturday night could provide a nice boost to his chance of avoiding that bubble.  

“I've been impressed with him,” Fox said before the Bears’ first preseason game. “He's got a great feel for the game. Sometimes it might not be just how fast they are physically but how fast they play, and he seems to be that type of guy. He's still got plenty of gas in the tank and we're excited to have him.”

4. DE Jonathan Bullard

Bullard is the only player on this list who flashed last Thursday, with an impressive tackle for a loss probably the Bears’ second-best defensive play of the day behind Leonard Floyd’s first-play-of-the-game sack. He’s had a solid camp, too, showing some promising signs after struggling to show much of anything a year ago. For Bullard, Saturday night will be about keeping his arrow pointing up, perhaps to the point that he could start at defensive end opposite Akiem Hicks in Week 1. 

“He’s definitely stronger, faster,” Hicks said. “He was already explosive, right? He has picked up the game to a point where he can play within the scheme now and see things come and be able to predict the play in order to get a step on the guard or the tackle, whoever he’s playing against. Just the things that come with getting more reps.”

5. CB Kyle Fuller

No player may have a better opportunity Saturday night than Fuller, who should be in line to take first-team reps with Bryce Callahan out and Prince Amukamara missing practices this week with a strained hamstring. What Fuller does with this opportunity could be a major deciding factor of whether or not he’s part of the Bears’ 53-man roster — this coaching staff and front office didn’t draft him, and his fifth-year option for 2018 was declined in the spring. 

“It’s a new year,” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said earlier this month when asked about Fuller. “We start evaluating guys by what you’ve seen on the field at this point.”