Briggs a difference-maker this time vs. Seahawks?

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Briggs a difference-maker this time vs. Seahawks?

Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2011
8:58 AM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

The Bears have had to listen all year to critics who pointed to one lucky break after another giving the Bears games, and wins, against teams missing elite players. While no one seemed to be noticing, the Bears occasionally were on the wrong side of injury luck.

Matt Hasselbeck noticed. The Seattle quarterback had the good fortune of facing the Bears without perhaps their best single defensive player at the time.

Linebacker Lance Briggs was out with an ankle injury and Hasselbeck is of the opinion that Briggs absence took something away from the accomplishment of beating the Bears in Soldier Field.

Hes arguably one of the best defensive players in the game, Hasselbeck said. Going into that game, we fully expected him to play. He didnt play, and that was a big deal.

So for us to sit back and say, Oh, hey, we beat them at their place. We can do it again, that would be a dangerous way to feel. Because Lance Briggs did not play in that game. He is a big, big-time difference-maker and a great football player. As hard as this game was going to be the fact that hes back up, that takes it to a whole other level, Hasselbeck said.

Mike-minded

Zackary Bowman, Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman didnt leave the practice field Monday with the rest of their teammates. The three cornerbacks went off to a corner of the field and worked against each other.

Only they werent working against each other. They were working against Mike Williams, the one-time bust as a 10th-overall pick of the Detroit Lions in 2005 who did so little in three seasons that he was out of football for the 2008-09 seasons. It was Williams who had a career game against the Bears back in October with 10 receptions for 123 yards

Hes not the same guy as he once was, Jennings said. You can tell. Hes in shape, hes learned how to run routes a little better and you can tell hes been working on stuff outside football when he wasnt in football. Hes more committed to the team, working hard and hes gotten better in certain areas.

Hes huge. Hes gotten better.

The Bears played their cornerbacks on their respective sides rather than assign one to match up exclusively with Williams. His size (6-5, 230) makes Tillman the logical assignment but the Williams had just 55 catches in the other 15 games this season and may not warrant jury rigging the defense to stop him specifically.

We have to play a lot better against him, and we do plan, said coach Lovie Smith. Its like that each week. If you dont have success, you look for a better way of doing things. Maybe a better way is just to play what we had planned in a little bit better. Show up Sunday and youll see.

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.

Can Deiondre' Hall overcome on- and off-field hurdles to make an impact with Bears?

Can Deiondre' Hall overcome on- and off-field hurdles to make an impact with Bears?

Rookie Deiondre' Hall flashed in the preseason a year ago, leading the Bears coaching staff and fans to believe they found something amidst their trio of 2016 fourth round draft picks. 

He’s hoping to do the same this August after overcoming one physical hurdle, while waiting to see if he can get past a legal hurdle he created for himself.

Let’s start on the field, where, just days after his first NFL interception in the fourth game last season, he sustained an ankle injury in practice, sidelining him for two months. Once his walking boot and scooter were finally put away, he was active for the final four games. But what progress he’d been making on the field was difficult to recapture.

“Just coming off the injury, there was a little rust here and there, but the training staff here’s great and I had to push through it,” Hall said at last week’s minicamp in Lake Forest after he was one of numerous Bears hit by the injury bug, but not one of the 19 who wound up on Injured Reserve. “(I was) getting comfortable with the defense and in myself playing with those guys out there, getting the opportunity in the red zone and making plays. But the injury kinda sucked because I haven’t really had an opportunity to play since Week 5, so I’m not necessarily starting fresh.”

As the offseason unfolded, Hall was informed the coaching staff was going to try him at safety, if not permanently, then as an option for the 6-foot-2, 201-pound Northern Iowa product. 

But Hall’s not totally foreign to the position. He was a free safety his first year in college, then transitioned to outside linebacker/nickel as a sophomore, moved to cornerback as a junior before breaking his hand his senior year, playing through it back where he started at safety. So the decision wasn’t a big deal, especially if it enhances his chances to get on the field. But his preference?

“Defense. Opportunity,” Hall responded. “You get in where you fit in and the more you can do, the better it is for the team. If opportunity presents itself at corner, then I’m at corner. But right now at safety, I’m making strides (there) and keep pushing for that.”

“We’re gonna float him back and forth,” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said last month, after the Bears signed free agent cornerbacks Prince Amukamara and Marcus Cooper in the off-season, while Bryce Callahan and Cre’Von LeBlanc are expected to battle for slot duty and former first-rounder Kyle Fuller and veterans Johnthan Banks and B.W. Webb hope to impress. “He (Hall) had some experience there in college. When it comes down to picking your team and you’re taking nine or 10 DBs, if someone’s got versatility to play both of those spots, that helps, so we’re gonna see if he’s one of those guys.”

But before Hall gets back to work in Bourbonnais, he’ll find out if he has some other dues to pay. Hall was back at his alma mater’s Cedar Falls campus March 26th when he and a former UNI teammate were arrested outside a bar called Sharky’s. Police had responded to a call, and by the time all was said and done, Hall needed to be tased before being arrested on charges of public intoxication, interference (with an arrest), and disorderly conduct. 

The case was continued late last month and Hall’s jury trial is scheduled for July 11th. Pending the outcome, he could face disciplinary action from the team and the NFL. He’s told his side of the story to Bears management and while expressing remorse for putting himself in the situation, Hall says it wasn’t in character and feels confident in what the outcome will be.

“People make mistakes and the truth always comes out,” the 23-year-old said, adding the situation isn’t weighing on his mind or affected his preparation in off-season workouts. “You gotta let people make their own mistakes. I won’t shed light but the truth always comes out, and (I’ve learned) just don’t take anything for granted.”

“My main focus is football and keep pushing to make strides to become good, and great.”

Bears announce training camp schedule

Bears announce training camp schedule

The Bears released their official training camp schedule Thursday morning. After reporting to Olivet Nazarene on Wednesday, July 26, the first of ten practices open to the public will take place the following day. The Bears will be based out of Bourbonnais for the 16th straight season. Training camp will go through Sunday, Aug. 13 before the Bears break camp and finish the preseason in Lake Forest. 

All practices are tentatively scheduled to start at various times during the 11 a.m. hour with the exception of Saturday, Aug. 13, which starts at 12:05 p.m. Those times are subject to change based on weather, and a varying set of schedules that John Fox and his coaching staff have set up, as they adjust to player and training staff preferences in hopes of reducing injuries. 

Also, new this season, fans wanting to attend practices must order free tickets in advance through the Bears website. Fans will not be allowed in without a ticket, and the first 1,000 fans each day will be given various souvenirs. The practice campus will be open to the public with tickets from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Here is the full training camp schedule: