First round of Bears 'playoffs' starts Sunday vs. Pats

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First round of Bears 'playoffs' starts Sunday vs. Pats

Monday, Dec. 6, 2010
Posted: 2:31 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

In the first round of the 2010 playoffs, the Bears have drawn the New England Patriots.

In the second round, they have the Minnesota Vikings. Then the New York Jets. And don't forget the Green Bay Packers; the Bears certainly have not.

The de facto "playoffs," the time of year when one loss effectively ends your season, have in fact begun for the Bears. They are ahead of the Packers in the NFC North in the standings but losing in Green Bay the final week of the season could cost the Bears dearly even if their record is superb. The Patriots and Jets may not be NFC opponents but the win-loss totals can't tell the difference.

"Absolutely," said safety Chris Harris. "Every game in December is a playoff game for me. We're at 9-3 right now. We definitely don't want that to slip away. We're going to approach every game like it's a playoff game becaues it's going to be tough. The Packers are a good football team as well. Every single game right now counts."

Some Bears appeared to forget that on the way to Ford Field but they are unlikely to make the same mistake again. A little check of NFL history will show them why.

Pittsburgh, Houston and Atlanta all missed the playoffs last year with 9-7 records. Cleveland missed in 2007 with a 10-6 mark. None other than the Patriots missed last season with an 11-5 record.

"There could possibly be a 10-6 team or 11-5 team that doesn't make the playoffs this year," Harris said. "We just have to take care of business and win our division and not worry about that. We don't want to be that team on the outside looking in."

Depth charging

Pisa Tinoisamoa underwent arthroscopic surgery Monday on his injured right knee, a procedure described as "minor" and at this point not something expected to land the veteran strong-side linebacker on injured reserve.

Rod Wilson, whose listed position is No. 2 middle linebacker, filled in well and is expected to start in Tinoisamoa's spot, which points to a subtle strength of the Bears' depth chart. The Bears also are without Nick Roach (hip) after he was injured against Detroit and was unable to finish the game.

Wilson and Brian Iwuh are standouts on special teams and they also can be quickly retrofitted to play multiple linebacker spots. Iwuh came off the bench to start against Seattle in place of injured Lance Briggs and calmly delivered 12 tackles, including 10 solos.

And speaking of linebackers ...

Brian Urlacher did not have 17 tackles against the Lions. Coaches' review of game tape put the final total at 19. Considering that the Lions only ran 53 plays total, that puts Urlacher intimately involved in nearly 36 percent of Detroit's snaps.

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: