Thursday, Dec. 9, 2010
By John Mullin
Fresh from his sold-out run at Zanies, the Bears coach paused from watching horror films starring Tom Brady just long enough Thursday to have fun with a question about similarities between himself and the New England Patriots head coach.
Just looking at me, you see quite a few, don't you? Smith said with a slight smile.
That Smith can manage humor in the days before going against the No. 1 scoring offense in the NFL and a three-time Super Bowl champion coach may speak to both Smith's and his team's state of mind.
With Smith down in their pre-practice drills, defensive backs were delivering loud whoops every time one of their number intercepted a lollypop practice pass.
When the subject was brought up about his healthy competition with fellow linebacker Brian Urlacher for the team lead in tackles, Lance Briggs made sure to point out his two missed games with an ankle injury: You have to remember, since we're talking about a healthy competition: I've missed two games, two games, so for me that'll always be in the back of the mind, if people say, Lance, why didn't you have more tackles?
For his part, Urlacher ran through the requisite superlatives about Brady, then added a subtle reference to an embarrassing feint Brady put on him during the Patriots' 2006 win over the Bears. And he runs fast, too, Urlacher deadpanned, then laughed. I remember he's really fast. Good runner.
If the Bears were feeling any tension facing the Patriots, it has been nowhere to be found this week, perhaps a carryover from the collective mood after the Detroit game: It's starting to get fun for us, quarterback Jay Cutler said of his offense but might have been speaking for his entire team.
On the mend
Linebacker Nick Roach (hip) was able to practice on a limited basis Thursday but starter Pisa Tinoisamoa (knee), after dressing and going through some early drills, was not able to practice. The Bears have ruled neither player in or out for Sunday.
Running back Chester Taylor (knee) returned to practice but was also limited in certain sessions. The Bears were also without defensive tackle Marcus Harrison, excused from practice because of illness.
Brady continues to be limited in practice by shoulder and foot injuries and nose tackle Myron Pryor by back problems. Safety Patrick Chung and linebacker Brandon Spikes did not practice for non-football issues. Cornerback Jonathan Wilhite (hip) also was out.
The Bear weather mystique is a questionable asset for the home team. Frigid temperatures have been in no way a guarantee of success on the lakefront. Far from it.
The Bears are 8-4 in games with the wind chill at zero or below. They bagged their 1963 NFL championship in minus-3 conditions and they smacked around the New York Giants in the 1985 playoffs with wind chill at zero. (In case you're wondering, the following week was the 24-0 annihilation of the Los Angeles Rams in the snow, temperature at a balmy 39, wind chill 28).
But the Ditka Bears twice saw dream seasons die in the cold: against Washington after the 14-2 season of 1986, and against San Francisco in the 1988 NFC Championship game.
(Thanks to Bears media relations for some superb digging on the numbers.)
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.