'Lach is back at practice for the Bears


'Lach is back at practice for the Bears

Thursday, Sept. 15, 2011
Posted: 3:29 p.m. Updated: 6:50 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com Bears Insider Follow @CSNMoonMullin
Brian Urlacher was at Halas Hall and at practice Thursday. But running back Marion Barber (calf) was out on Thursday after practicing on a limited basis Wednesday, not a good sign for Sunday. Guard Lance Louis (ankle), safety Chris Harris and receiver Roy Williams (groin) also did not practice Thursday.

The impact of Urlachers return following some time away after his mother Lavoyda died earlier this week was immediate.

His play speaks for itself, as good as anybody in this league for a lot of years, said coordinator Rod Marinelli. What else he brings is leadership to the defense, knowledge, command of the huddle, command of the system. Hes got a Ph.D in this system and it shows.

Hes the leader of our defense and in the locker room. They just have so much respect for him and not just as a player; how he conducts himself. Hes a pro, a real pro.

Looking ahead
Checked in with the folks on Versus to talk a bit of Bears-Saints this afternoon from 5-6 p.m.

"Where's Waldo?" NFL-style

The New Orleans Saints do not have one of the NFLs taller offensive lines. Only right tackle Zach Strief (6-7) is taller than 6-5, and center Olin Kreutz is 6-2. By contrast, the Bears have three linemen 6-6 or taller plus two tight ends each 6-7.

But the Saints have a running back in Darren Sproles who is nearly a foot shorter than his blockers. What that means is, good luck finding Sproles in among the tall timber, particularly with the Bears fielding defensive ends Israel Idonije (6-6) and Julius Peppers (6-7).

Theyve got big linemen, said linebacker Lance Briggs. Sometimes, it can be hard to find the little guy behind there. You know, scatback; hes a fast guy with quick little feet. He reminds me of one of those old Scooby Doo cartoons.

But seriously, folks...

Offensive coordinator Mike Martz has moved from the sidelines to the coaches booth on game days. He definitely took his sense of humor with him, too.

The advantage of being in the booth calling plays?

Good hot dogs, he quipped, laughing, then gave the real answer. Its quiet. You have a chance to take notes, and sort through things. Youre quicker with calls. I hadnt been up there in a long time, but its good. I like it.

Tweet, tweet

Brian Urlacher used his new Twitter account (@BUrlacher54) to thank well-wishers in the wake of his mother Lavoydas death earlier this week. He also sent along some good news on the football side of things:

Back at practice. Thank you for your thoughts. Please send donations to: The Lavoyda Fund co City of Lovington. Urlacher is from Lovington, N.M.

Punch it up?

Not long after he was drafted by the Bears in 1998, native Hawaiian Olin Kreutz asked me, tongue-in-cheek because he was a rookie and an offensive lineman at that, about endorsement possibilities. He already had a rep as a tough guy from a fracas with a college teammate, so he had an idea.

How about Hawaiian Punch, he said, laughing.

The Bears lost an enforcer when Kreutz signed with the New Orleans Saints. He has not been a fighter in games -- the really tough guys dont have to prove it very often -- but he is never reluctant to deliver shots within the flow of the game.

Im sure that there will be some words exchanged, said linebacker Lance Briggs. There will be some good contact, you know. Maybe there will be some blows.

He laughed: But if theres blows exchanged, hopefully Im giving them and not receiving them.

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.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Will Bears actually trade Alshon Jeffery?


SportsTalk Live Podcast: Will Bears actually trade Alshon Jeffery?

Brian Hedger (nhl.com), Teddy Greenstein (Chicago Tribune) and Rich Campbell (Chicago Tribune) join Chuck Garfien on the panel.

The Bears reluctantly go back to Jay Cutler as the starter. Meanwhile, can the Bears actually trade Alshon Jeffery?

The guys give their predictions for the Bulls season, Hedger dissects the Blackhawks penalty kill problems and Teddy explains why Michigan will win the Big Ten.

Listen to the SportsTalk Live Podcast below:

Bears running back committee still a work in progress as ground game languishes

Bears running back committee still a work in progress as ground game languishes

The Bears have a fantasy football conundrum. Which of their running backs do they go with?

Jeremy Langford is listed as the starter. Then Ka’Deem Carey. Then Jordan Howard. Joique Bell was waived Monday, a clear statement that Langford is sufficiently back from the sprained ankle he suffered against the Dallas Cowboys.

The Bears have had three different leading rushers through seven games, which might be considered promising, except that none has established any sort of consistent identity with the opportunities.

The problem: in a production-based business, the depth chart is in inverse order of results. Howard is averaging 4.8 yards on his 73 carries and has a receiving and rushing touchdown. Carey is netting 4.7 on his 23, of which 10 came against the Green Bay Packers. Langford is rushing at the 3.7-yard average of his rookie season, but with two rushing touchdowns. Howard’s 14 pass receptions are nearly double the combined by Langford (5) and Carey (3).

And Howard has played 265 snaps, vs. 100 for Langford and 65 for Carey.

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But Howard was muzzled by the Packers and Langford is coming off a month’s worth of inactivity. And after averaging 116 rushing yards per game last season, the offense that was being committed to the run is down to 88 ground yards per game.

So who’s the Bears’ choice, because “committee” hasn’t exactly been the way, either. With the exception against the Jacksonville Jaguars when fullback Paul Lasike got a fourth-down rush for a first down, only once (Philadelphia Eagles) have the Bears had carries by all three running backs.

“When you look around the league, I don’t think many people are running it very effectively in general,” Bears head coach John Fox said. “I think in our division I think it’s maybe a little bit more important than it is league-wide. Again, to me the essence of football is still being able to stop the run and being able to run the ball. So we emphasize it quite a bit.”

If it’s being emphasized, that’s perhaps even more concerning. Better if the failed run game was due to neglect rather than an area of emphasis. And the reality is that it needs to succeed if the Bears are going to.

“We’ve got to keep running the ball well,” quarterback Jay Cutler said. “I don’t think we’re running the ball well the last couple of weeks as we wanted to. That three-game span we were doing OK [4.4 ypc. combined vs. Detroit-Indianapolis-Jacksonville].”