Burleson gives Bears bulletin-board material

Burleson gives Bears bulletin-board material

Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010
7:07 PM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Its not exactly Joe Namath calling his shot with the New York Jets in Super Bowl III but for an NFC North rivalry game, itll have to do.

Detroit wide receiver Nate Burleson, against whom the Bears played when he was a Seattle Seahawk and Minnesota Viking before he became a Lions last offseason, likes his new teams chances against the Bears, winners of four straight, even though the Lions are 2-9 and losers of four straight.

Burleson this week issued what is being construed as a guarantee of a Detroit victory Sunday.when he said on his local radio show, We will win on Sunday.

The Bears supposedly posted the guarantee on bulletin boards, which surprised Burleson, who clarified and tempered his comments substantially, which were hardly inflammatory in the first place.

You can take it as a guarantee, Chicago can take it as a guarantee, they can take it however they want, Burleson said, as reported on MLive.com. We play to win the game, we want to try to win on Sunday, and we think weve got a chance to win.

Not exactly something to start a war of words, and if that in fact does incense the Bears, that may be the bigger surprise.

Deep down every player, I would think you would guarantee a win every week you go into it, said linebacker Lance Briggs. Its good. It should fire them up. I know it definitely fires us up. Weve got it pinned up everywhere in our meeting rooms.

It was none other than Briggs who guaranteed a win in 2004 over Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts. No record of whether that added anything to Indianapolis motivation, but the Colts left Soldier Field with a 41-10 win that day. Im not going to guarantee more wins, he guaranteed.

And guarantee that this will not be the last guarantee made somewhere by someone.

Ive heard it so many times in the last 11 years, said linebacker Brian Urlacher. Its locker room material. If you need to get fired up at this point in the season, somethings wrong with you, but it does add a little more fuel to the fire.

So does pundits and observers showing little or no respect for the Bears or their accomplishments. In fact that may be the one thing that does put some fuel to the Bears fire, and their coach sees to it that they know theyre being disrespected.

The no respect thing I think does provide motivation, Urlacher said. We play on that pretty well. Weve done a good job of it. Coach Smith hypes it up pretty good, and we kind of thrive on that.

"But other than that, if you cant get ready to play and get ready for a game at this point in the season or even at the beginning of the season, somethings wrong. You shouldnt be playing football. Because now they mean a lot unless youre 2-9 or so, then they dont mean as much. But our games mean a lot right now, so we need to be ready to play.

Sick bay

Chances increased Thursday for Nick Roach starting at strong-side linebacker for the third straight game as Pisa Tinoisamoa returned to practice but only on a limited basis. Whenever you have a guy who isnt able to practice on Thursday, theres some concern, said coach Lovie Smith.

The Lions officially lost kicker Jason Hanson to a right-knee injury that has raised questions about his career. Right tackle Gosder Cherilus was unable to practice as well because of a knee injury and defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch was out again with a neck injury.

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.

Bears defensive backs using off-field bonds to improve on-field ones

Bears defensive backs using off-field bonds to improve on-field ones

Every Thursday night, Bears defensive backs try to all get together at Tracy Porter’s house for dinner. But it’s not about the food.

"None of us can cook," said cornerback Bryce Callahan, laughing.

At the risk of channeling some inner Marc Trestman, it’s about the get-together itself, which always involves popping on some game film and doing extra study beyond the time at Halas Hall. And it’s also building something off the field that they believe they can take onto it.

One of the keys to excellence in any working group is the individuals connecting in ways that make the whole greater than just the sum of the parts. That’s the point ultimately, taking some personal connections onto the field and making the entire defensive backfield collectively better.

Relationships among players have never been recorded as intercepting or even deflecting an NFL pass.

"For me it starts off the field, getting to know one another, how that person is," said cornerback Cre’Von LeBlanc, familiar with a similar internal chemistry from his time with the New England Patriots.

"You get that feeling for every individual, and you take that on the field. It creates a close bond, and we’ve got that bond. We try to look through each other’s eyes, communicate what you were thinking and he was thinking on this play or that, and that’s the biggest thing."

Offensive lines are generally thought of as the group most benefited by camaraderie and closeness. They typically have an O-line dinner most weeks, with checks for the meal not uncommonly reaching into four-figures.

"Those boys can EAT," LeBlanc marveled. "We stick to wings or ribs."

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

But the secondary consists of four individuals rotating coverages the way a line moves with different protections or assignments. Double-teams in the defensive backfield require the same cohesion and familiarity as ones on the other side of the football.

The Bears have started the same base four defensive backs in all three games — Porter and Jacoby Glenn at the corners, Adrian Amos and Harold Jones-Quartey at the safeties — but the Bears are working in multiple rookies, and Callahan (hamstring) has been inactive along with Kyle Fuller, projected to be the starter at right corner but now on IR. Rookie safety Deon Bush was inactive the first two weeks, then played at Dallas. Rookie corner Deiondre’ Hall was pressed into action on defense for 18 plays at Houston and 28 against Philadelphia.

With the in-game mixes-and-matches necessitated by injuries, the familiarity among secondary members is looked at as nothing short of vital. Comments, right or wrong, from a friend can be taken better/more constructively than ones from a relative stranger.

"Just more of being ready to pick each other up, be ready," Amos said. "It just shows you how quick you can go from scout team to on the field, so everybody has to be talking together.

"The closer we are on and off the field, the better we are together."

LeBlanc agrees.

"We talk to each other like friends, in a unit, trying to dissect a play right after it happens, rewind and see how we can to it better.

"You can’t be out here trying to communicate and you don’t even really know the guy next to you."

Bears facing Lions with Jay Cutler likely out, Alshon Jeffery dealing with hamstring issue

Bears facing Lions with Jay Cutler likely out, Alshon Jeffery dealing with hamstring issue

The official injury designation is “doubtful” but Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is unofficially expected to be out of Sunday’s game with the Detroit Lions after not practicing on Thursday or Friday due to his injured right thumb.

“It is a pretty critical area on the quarterback, especially when it's your right thumb and you're a right handed quarterback,” Bears head coach John Fox said. “So you know we're going to get him healthy and that's our main objective and we'll see if he's any further along [Saturday].”

The designation — “questionable” — was brighter for wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, except for the mild surprise that he was limited in practice Wednesday and Thursday with a knee issue and then was limited on Friday because of a hamstring.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

Jeffery missed six games last season, two separate instances, because of hamstring problems.

Besides Cutler, running backs Ka’Deem Carey (hamstring) and Jeremy Langford (ankle), nose tackle Eddie Goldman (ankle) and linebacker Danny Trevathan (thumb) also did not practice and are listed as doubtful. Carey, Cutler, Goldman and Trevathan all were inactive in Dallas, and Langford suffered his ankle sprain against the Cowboys.

Limited but listed as questionable: guard Josh Sitton (shoulder), outside linebacker Willie Young (knee); and defensive backs Sherrick McManis (hamstring), Tracy Porter (knee) and Harold Jones-Quartey (concussion, cleared).