Lovie: It's one game and no more than that

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Lovie: It's one game and no more than that

Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011
Posted: 5:26 p.m.

By JohnMullin
CSNChicago.com BearsInsider Follow@CSNMoonMullin
Lovie Smith gets credit for keeping a sense of perspective in place for his players. Every game of an NFL season is a big deal, but Smith also knows how to parcel out the weight of any particular game.

Like this one coming up against the Atlanta Falcons. First games are sometimes viewed as season direction-indicators, team-definers. And they are huge games. Sort of. Depending on how the Bears do.

The years weve won, Ive put a lot into it. Im pumped up about it, Smith joked. The years we havent, then its not thats important.

But seriously, folks

It is one game and no more than that, Smith said. I dont think it counts any more but it does give you an idea of where you are, because you really dont know. No team really knows.

Smith has had some practice with assigning value to a first-game win or loss. From 2005-2011, only in 2006 (Green Bay) and 2010 (Detroit) did the Bears open against a team not coming off a playoff season or beginning one that would culminate in reaching the playoffs.

Working in the Bears favor is that the Falcons have not won in Soldier Field since 1983. Jay Cutler was four months old then. It was, coincidentally, the opening game of that season.

Smith insisted you really cant think ahead. Who do we play the second game anyway?

No answer. Thats what I thought, he said.

Whoever it is, thats a long time away.

That would be called focus.

Capn Crunch

Roberto Garza is replacing Olin Kreutz as the Bears starting center. He also is replacing Kreutz in the role of co-captain, along with Cutler, of the offense. Given that Garza is the clear head of the young offensive line, this is an obvious pick.
Julius Peppers and Brian Urlacher are the returning defensive captains and long snapper Patrick Mannelly represents special teams.
He said what?

Matt Forte said Wednesday that he did not think GM Jerry Angelo lied about the desire to get something worked out before the season. But in Fortes mind, Angelo was being less than accurate in his portrayal of negotiations breaking off.

Angelo said that the decision to suspend contract negotiations with Forte was a mutual understanding; the two sides obviously had solidly different basic negotiating assumption.

He said that? Forte said. I didnt say that. I guess it wasnt mutual. But that was his decision. I cant really decide if we continue to talk or not. Hes the one we walk to, so the doors always open on my end.

Sick bay

Running back Marion Barber, bothered by a calf injury suffered in the preseason game at Tennessee, did not practice for the second day this week, raising concerns about his readiness for Atlanta.

Nose tackle Anthony Adams (calf), wideout Sam Hurd (ankle) and defensive end Corey Wootton (knee) were limited in practice. Woottons return to practice is a good sign for a defense that needs the edge rushing he was demonstrating in camp.

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 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:

After historically low turnover total in 2016, what can Bears do to get more takeaways?

After historically low turnover total in 2016, what can Bears do to get more takeaways?

Quintin Demps set a career high in interceptions last year by not doing anything different. And that’s the message he’s sending a defense that generated only 11 takeaways in 2016, tied for the lowest single-season total in NFL history. 

Demps went from picking off four passes in both 2013 with the Kansas City Chiefs and 2014 with the New York Giants to notching just one interception with the Houston Texans in 2015. In 2016, though, Demps intercepted six passes, broke up nine more and totaled 38 tackles. 

“Turnovers are like, it’s not something that you go get, it’s something you let come to you by doing your job first and then helping out,” Demps said. “And then you’d be surprised how they come to you by doing your job and being aware of when you can help somebody out. A lot of times when you get help is when you get picks and turnovers.”

The danger for a defense coming off a historically bad takeaway is sort of a whiplash effect, where there’s an over-emphasis on creating turnovers and not enough attention paid to, as Demps said, “doing your job.” There’s a fine line between being opportunistic and undisciplined.

“I tell my safeties all the time, we gotta tackle first,” Demps said. “Tackle first, don’t miss any tackles and then the picks are going to come. I promise you that.”

The Bears felt positively after signs of being more opportunistic as a defense during shorts-and-helmets practices in May and June, though if that was because of any real improvements or because the defense is usually ahead of the offense is hard to tell at this stage of the year. 

The offseason program was valuable for the Bears’ secondary in growing trust within a group that had — no pun intended — plenty of turnover after the 2016 season. The hope is that the offseason additions of Demps, Prince Amukamara, Marcus Cooper and Eddie Jackson will solidify the secondary and lead to something better than last year’s historically-low turnover total. 

“We’re still trying to build something, but the actual, real building happens in training camp because I think then you start to see the group start to get formed and yo know who’s going to go with the one’s, who’s going to go with the two’s, stuff like that,” Amukamara said. “So I think that starts to get formed. But I think with a lot of guys now, I think what that creates is competition and guys trying their hardest to make the team.”