Meriweather progressing, will play vs. Atlanta

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Meriweather progressing, will play vs. Atlanta

Thursday, Sept. 8, 2011Posted: 9:42 p.m.
By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com Bears Insider Follow @CSNMoonMullin Brandon Meriweather is expected to be inserted in spots at free safety Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons despite only being signed over the weekend.

Meriweather is receiving a crash course in the Bears scheme based on a go-now program and from Day 1, we were trying to get him game ready as soon as we possibly could, defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said Thursday. We have thrown a lot at him, but hes picked it up quickly. But when youre a pro, youve been around, you have some different terminology, but most of the coverages are similar. He knew a little bit about how we play ball, so well see. Hes right on pace.

Meriweather played his way to two Pro Bowls as a member of the New England Patriots and coaches have not been shy about throwing him into the defense and into plans to go against one of the NFLs elite offenses.

Hes a real smart guy, said coach Lovie Smith. I think he understands everything were doing. But now its just doing it; the repetition of doing it, the run fits and all those things Were trying to get him up to speed as fast as we can.

Meriweather may not be the only very new guy making an impact on just a few days practice. Fullback Tyler Clutts, signed off the Cleveland Browns practice squad, played on all four Browns special teams and is expected to be on more than one as a new Bear.

Sick bay

Running back Marion Barber was out of practice again Thursday, all but guaranteeing he will be sidelined for the Atlanta game because of a calf injury suffered in the Tennessee game. Nose tackle Anthony Adams (calf), receiver Sam Hurd (ankle) and defensive end Corey Wootton (knee) practiced on a limited basis. Adams is expected to be ready Sunday but Wootton is a longer shot, coming back from knee surgery.

Bears skeptic

As you can probably deduce from previous postings, Im curious why there is such widespread low-balling of the Bears, not just locally but also nationally. This isnt a fan speaking; I have no personal rooting interest here, and my 10-6 or better prediction for the second straight year is simply my guess on what actually will happen, not what I somehow wish would happen (except that, as my wife knows, I seriously love being right).

But Jason LaCanfora over at NFL Network calls himself a Bears skeptic rather than a Bears hater and explains why. Not a lot of surprises, including the observation that the Bears are getting older at a number of spots on defense.

A curious thing, though, is why investing a No. 1 draft choice in a tackle (Gabe Carimi) isnt considered doing much to fortify the offensive line, which also has left tackle JMarcus Webb going into a second NFL season and Chris Williams doing the same at left guard. Unless they mysteriously backslide, those are upgrades-in-place.

If Frank Omiyale was a starter last season and is not good enough to this year, that means your offensive line is better (no slight of Omiyale here). If Chris Spencer, a starter in Seattle, is not good enough to start, the Bears line is better.

Jason does raise a good question regarding Meriweather, whom the Bears signed to a one-year contract worth more than 3.2 million. It would seem that they couldve traded a draft choice for him (New England was shopping Meriweather) and paid less, although Meriweather had reached some contract escalators, so the Bears wouldve been paying quite a bit more than the 1.6 million in Meriweathers rookie deal.

Plus, two other factors: The Bears do not treat late-round picks lightly. They have two seventh-rounders starting on their offensive line (Webb, Lance Louis) and a sixth-rounder (Chris Harris) starting at safety.

And thats what the market said they needed to pay for a two-time Pro Bowl safety.

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, Lions have been totally different teams in fourth quarters

Bears, Lions have been totally different teams in fourth quarters

Apart from any specific player or statistic, one unavoidable part of Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions looms ominously in front of the Bears, and there is no way they can avoid it: The fourth quarter.

Every game has one, and it has been the blessing of the Lions’ 2016 existence and the bane of the Bears’. The Bears talk constantly about the importance of playing a 60-minute game.

Before last Sunday’s 28-13 win over the New Orleans Saints, the Lions had trailed in the fourth quarter of all seven of their previous victories this season. A team that had traditionally found undisciplined ways to squander games has been finding ways to win them, according to a formula.

As Detroit Free Press columnist Jeff Seidel noted, “every single one of these games has looked the same: There was the drive, the field goal and the huge defensive play or, at least, some variation of those things."

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This is particularly relevant — and concerning — for the Bears, who have been the virtual opposite: Three times this season (at Houston, at Indianapolis, vs. Jacksonville) they have led in fourth quarters and lost those games.

The reasons lie in different phases, not simply cases of one, same unit failing.

"With us it’s not excuses, but we’re young, on our third quarterback, and that can affect it as far as experience and just being in that situation,” said coach John Fox. “To close the game, sometimes it’s just a mindset. When you have young players, it’s learning how to deal with adversity and learning how to deal with prosperity.”

The Bears did not outscore an opponent in the fourth quarter of any of their first 10 games this season, finally getting something going late in the Tennessee and San Francisco games, outscoring those two opponents by a combined 19-3.

“Being able to finish games, that’s something we’re learning and I think I saw examples of it last week in the San Francisco game and even going back to Minnesota, games where we have closed it, even in the first Detroit game, although we made that one interesting,” Fox said. “We found a way. So a lot of it’s experience under pressure and hopefully we’re figuring it out and can figure it out the last four games of the year.”

Beginning Sunday, presumably, against the NFL’s reigning comeback team.

Brandon Marshall doesn't remember 3 TD game from Bears-49ers in 2014 because he was on pain pills

Brandon Marshall doesn't remember 3 TD game from Bears-49ers in 2014 because he was on pain pills

Remember back in 2014 when the Bears rallied from a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter to beat the 49ers 28-20 in San Francisco on Sunday Night Football?

Well, Brandon Marshall doesn't.

And he had three of the four touchdown catches, two of them coming in the last quarter.

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The former Bears wide receiver, who had been dealing with a high ankle sprain, said he took pain pills before the game and doesn't recall much of it, including the incredible one-handed grab that went viral.

"I don't really remember much about that game because I worked really hard to get back from a high ankle (sprain)," Marshall said during a conference call Wednesday. "I'll say it, I took a couple pain pills that masked the pain. I really wasn't supposed to play. I came back from a high ankle (sprain) within 10 days. I was supposed to be out four to six weeks. I don't remember much from that game. I just remember catching those balls. And that was pretty much it."

If only Bears fans could forget that season entirely, which ended in a 5-11 record and the end of the Marc Trestman era.