Lovie: We know what's at stake

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Lovie: We know what's at stake

DENVER The focus of the past week has been on Tim Tebow, the Denver Broncos hybrid unorthodox offense and occasionally with a Caleb Hanie or offensive line thought once Matt Fortes absence was confirmed.

But the Bears are now officially on the brink, having edged closer and closer to the edge each of the past two weeks.

Only one team in franchise history has lost three straight games and gone to the postseason. That was the 1979 team and it won its last three in a row to get there with a 10-6 record, which is precisely what the Bears would need to do with a loss to the Broncos, a team that has won five straight and four of those on the road.

Two losses in a row doesn't cut it around here for our football team, coach Lovie Smith said. We know what's at stake this week.

You have to hope so. No jokes this week about pronunciations of the opposing quarterbacks name. The Bears are in trouble.
Playoff disaster?
The Kansas City loss was potentially devastating in the big picture as well as the immediate setback and loss of Forte.

The Bears currently own the No. 5 seed in the NFC playoff standings but find themselves in danger of falling out of the postseason even if they win their remaining four games.

The reason is because if the Bears, Atlanta and Detroit all win out, the NFL tiebreak procedure first decides between division teams. Detroit is the same 7-5 that the Bears are, but if the Lions win out, both would have 3-3 division marks but the Lions will own a better record against common opponents.

The Lions crushed the Chiefs 48-3 earlier this season, and that game would decide who joins the Falcons as a second wild card, even though the Bears own a head-to-head win over Atlanta.

There is simply zero margin for error.

We still have to win every game. 11-5 will definitely get you in. 10-6 will probably get you in, linebacker Brian Urlacher said. So its a race to 10 for us. Whatever happens with everybody else it doesnt matter. Weve got to take care of our business, like weve said all season long. We just didnt do it the last two weeks.
Some good?

The woes of Hanie and the offense will be at the heart of the situation against the Broncos. Tebow has directed five fourth-quarter comebacks in just 10 career games, suggesting that the Broncos are every bit as well conditioned as Smith insists his Bears are.

This will be difficult. Whether because of altitude or whatever, the Broncos have the NFLs best record at home (218-84) since 1975. They already have lost to Oakland, San Diego and Detroit at home this year.

While Hanie and the offense were squandering three touchdowns last Sunday Marion Barbers illegal-formation penalty, Roy Williams goal-line drop, Hanies overthrow of a ridiculously open Earl Bennett the defense has allowed just one touchdown in each of the last two games. One of those came on the aberrant Hail Mary pass at the end of the Kansas City first half.

One of the important things for them in games is that they've kept it relatively close, or close enough that they can make something happen at the end of the game, said linebacker Lance Briggs. Watching film on Minnesota, they had something like 46 yards in the first half, but in the second half there was just some badly blown coverages in critical situations.

Those are just things you can't do if you want to win games, and I thought that was a game Minnesota should have won. They were in position to win the game. And the San Diego game, just off of certain decisions, you know, running the ball and losing yardage and stuff like that. But hey, you can't worry about that. None of those teams are going to help us win once we step on the field. We have to go out to Denver and win it.

Kevin White not looking like a rookie as Bears open training camp

Kevin White not looking like a rookie as Bears open training camp

BOURBONNAIS — Call it a linebacker’s worst nightmare. Twice.

First it was outside linebacker Lamarr Houston, who found himself with wide receiver Kevin White on a pass route that made the wideout — he of 4.35 speed in the 40 — the coverage responsibility of a 274-pound defender whose specialty is going after quarterbacks.

White streaked away from Houston and caught Jay Cutler’s pass for a win for the offense.

Two snaps later it was inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman, whose first NFL interception was of a Cutler pass while Freeman was a member of the Indianapolis Colts, and who suddenly became the latest Bear defender to understand that with White, “if he’s even, he’s leavin’." To his credit, Freeman never lost sight of White, but neither was the overmatched linebacker more than a minor annoyance on the route that ended with another completion from Cutler.

“You know I think having our receivers out there healthy and able to practice, whether it’s Kevin or Alshon [Jeffery] or even Eddie Royal,” head coach John Fox said. “I think you feel the difference when they are out there playing.”

[MORE: Rough first camp day for Kyle Long, Bears No. 1 draft pick Leonard Floyd]

(Motion seconded by Messrs. Houston, Freeman.)

White was not done looking like anything but an inexperienced young player who’d missed his rookie season and virtually all of training camp with a stress fracture to his left leg. He made a twisting grab of another Cutler toss in the 7-on-7 drill, and later worked himself open on a broken play, making a sliding catch to save a pass from Cutler on the run.

Cutler and White spent time together in the offseason, away from football, and one result is the receiver understanding what his quarterback needs and demands.

“If he wants me at 9 yards, at 10 yards, come back down the line or run back to him, that’s what I have to do,” White said. “We’re continuing to do that.”

[SHOP: Gear up for the 2016 season, Bears fans!

White was practicing late last season before the Bears opted to leave him shut down after their season all but ended with the disappointing losses to San Francisco and Washington. The lost season set him behind on his learning curve, particularly given his relative inexperience playing at the highest level at West Virginia.

But the Bears also gave White’s injury time to heal rather than rush their No. 7-overall draft choice onto the field. The time off allowed more than just the stress-fracture surgery to mend.

“I had a whole year to recover, mentally and physically,” White said. “If we’d had had this talk last year, it would have mentally been a little rough as far as getting on my routes and trying not to run with a limp. And obviously taking a hit.

“But I’ve had a whole year to get it right. I thank the organization for giving me the time, and so I’m ready mentally and physically.”

Rough first camp day for Kyle Long, Bears No. 1 draft pick Leonard Floyd

Rough first camp day for Kyle Long, Bears No. 1 draft pick Leonard Floyd

BOURBONNAIS — The first day of 2016 Bears training camp was one with players not in full pads as the team eases players into the rigors of the most intense practice stretch of the football year. “No pads” may suggest less grueling, but Thursday saw the Bears finish practice with two of their last four No. 1’s departing early with health issues, even as last year’s top pick was finally back on the field where his rookie season effectively was closed out.

Outside linebacker Leonard Floyd left practice early on a trainer’s cart, while guard Kyle Long finished his day in a walking boot. Neither situation was initially considered dire, but both were in disappointing contrast to the excellent first day of wide receiver Kevin White, whose 2015 season had ended with a stress fracture in his left leg.

[MORE: Bears' first round pick Leonard Floyd leaves practice with illness]

The feeling that swept over the practice fields on the Bears’ first day of practice in Bourbonnais was a mixture of shock and disbelief: Floyd, the Bears’ No. 1 draft choice, was leaving the field on a cart, typically one of the more ominous ways a player can exit a field. After Kevin White’s season was lost last year to a stress fracture suffered in practice even before training camp, the prospect of another Bears No. 1 pick going down before even a first practice in pads was one scenario that organization could hardly have contemplated.

Fortunately, Floyd was down with what he described as a “stomach bug” that had bothered him earlier in the week, and the rookie was expected to be practicing on Friday — subject to trainers’ OK.

“I’m feeling good right now,” said Floyd, who had tried to talk his way back onto the field initially. “What happened today was I’ve been a little under the weather the past couple of days and the trainers knew that. They told me to go out and give it a shot today and then they shut me down.

“I really was begging them to let me go back out there. They told me to shut it down and shut it down tomorrow. I’m basically just trying to get back healthy and get back out there ... because I don’t like to sit out. They recommended that I take it easy today. They didn’t want me to injure myself further.”

[SHOP: Gear up for the 2016 season, Bears fans!

Long left practice late with a calf issue, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport.

Long has started since day one as a rookie in 2013 and missed only one game over the span of three NFL seasons, all ending with his selection to the Pro Bowl.

Bears' first round pick Leonard Floyd leaves practice with illness

Bears' first round pick Leonard Floyd leaves practice with illness

Leonard Floyd provided a scare on the first day of practice at Bears training camp, but the first round pick appears fine.

Head coach John Fox said Floyd, who left Thursday's practice on a cart, is simply battling an illness and was not injured.

The Bears moved up in April's NFL Draft to select Floyd with the ninth overall pick. The outside linebacker tallied 17 sacks at Georgia and was projected to be in the mix as an outside rusher in the Bears' 3-4 defense.