'Lach is back at practice for the Bears

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'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.

Bears Talk Podcast: Breaking down camp competition at wide receiver

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Bears Talk Podcast: Breaking down camp competition at wide receiver

On this week’s Bears Talk Podcast, we hear from Markus Wheaton as Chris Boden and JJ Stankevitz discuss the training camp competition at slot receiver.

Boden and Stankevitz also weigh in on PFF ranking the Bears’ starting lineup 18th in the NFL, answer listener questions and add another layer of Aaron Rodgers envy.

Listen to the latest Bears Talk Podcast right here:

Can Leonard Floyd break out in 2017? The Bears like the early signs

Can Leonard Floyd break out in 2017? The Bears like the early signs

The Bears believe Leonard Floyd will make the leap from being a promising rookie to a breakout second-year player, the kind who can be a centerpiece of a defense as soon as this fall.  

The Bears in 2016 totaled 37 sacks —12th in the NFL — despite dealing with a rash of injuries and not having a standout player in terms of getting to the quarterback. Willie Young led the team with 7 1/2 sacks, which tied him for 31st in the league last year, while Floyd and Akiem Hicks each had seven. 

Sixteen players recorded double-digit sacks last year. That’s not the end-all benchmark for Floyd in 2017, but for a former top-10 pick with elite skills and, as his coaches and teammate said, the right mentality, it’s not out of the question. 

“With most players, you go from your freshman year to sophomore or rookie to second year, … it slows down, they understand it, they're not thinking, they're reacting,” coach John Fox said. “And so I'd expect that and I've seen that already even in the off-season.”

Floyd, earlier this month, talked about how much more comfortable he feels after a full year of practicing and playing at the NFL level. 

“Everything was just fast when I got here last year,” Floyd said. “This year’s it’s way slower and I feel like I’m doing pretty good this year.”

There are two issues with Floyd that won’t go away until he proves they’re not problems in the regular season, though: His weight and his concussions. 

The weight issue is one Floyd has heard for a while, joking with reporters during veteran minicamp that he was surprised it wasn’t the first thing he was asked during his session with the media. He said he “definitely gained some weight” without revealing how much he’s put on, only saying he feels like he’s in much better shape now than he was as a rookie.

“It’s like night and day compared to last year,” Floyd said. 

The concessions are a far more serious — and scary — issue given it took Floyd two months to fully recover from the second concussion he suffered in 2016. 

The Bears believe Floyd’s concussion issues are correctable, though, given they were the product of poor tackling form made worse by collisions with Hicks. The crown of Floyd’s helmet was too low, so he and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio worked with tackling dummies and sled machines in an effort to fix that issue. 

The hope is that Floyd can stay healthy and marry his skills with a better knowledge of the game to put together a breakout year in 2017. His teammates sounded confident during the offseason program that everything was falling into place for the former ninth overall pick. 

“He’s a great competitor,” Hicks said. “Great energy, fast, athletic, he’s everything you want in an outside linebacker, right? Nonstop motor — I can give you all the cliche terms, but I just feel like as far as the defensive line or an outside linebacker, another year under his belt is only going to make him better.”

Added linebacker Jerrell Freeman: “That guy is going to be good for a while.”