Word on the Street: Urlacher, Briggs back out of Pro Bowl

Word on the Street: Urlacher, Briggs back out of Pro Bowl

Monday, Jan. 24, 2011
CSNChicago.com

Urlacher and Briggs back out of Pro Bowl

Bears' linebackers Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs will not be participating in the Pro Bowl. Urlacher will be replaced by Washington linebacker London Fletcher.

The Carolina Panthers announced that Jon Beason will take Briggs' place.

It is unknown if Julius Peppers or Devin Hester will participate in the Pro Bowl, (ChicagoBreakingSports).

Peppers, Hester named to AP All-Pro team

Bears defensive end Julius Peppers and kick returner Devin Hester were named to the Associated Press' NFL All-Pro team. The Bears were the only team in the NFC with more than one representative on the team.

This is the third time both players have been honored. (Chicago Breaking Sports)

Bulls acquiring Rip Hamilton?

Although Rip Hamilton never gets off the bench, the veteran guard willbe dealt by the Feb. 24 trading deadline. Fox Sports Ohio reports that deal could possibly involveDenvers Carmelo Anthony. Chicago, Dallas and Portland are also said tobe in the running for Hamilton. (Fox Sports Ohio)

Cutler and Cavallari eat out after NFC loss

Following the Bears' loss to the Green Bay Packers, quarterback Jay Cutler and girlfriend Kristin Cavallari dined at Mastro's Steakhouse. Cutler was not on crutches at the restaurant, but according to a source, "he limped a tiny bit." Eleven other people joined the quarterback and reality star in Mastro's private upstairs dining room.

Cutler was not the only Bear eating out after the NFC loss. Greg Olsen and J'Marcus Webb had dinner at Hub 51, after which Webb went on to Bull & Bear later that night. Danieal Manning dined at Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar.

Several teammates, including Chester Taylor, Garrett Wolfe, Major Wright, D.J. Moore, Kahlil Bell and Corey Wootton hung out at Lumen in West Town. (Chicago Tribune)

Bears' Idonije finalist for NFL Man of the Year Award

The Bears will not be in the Super Bowl, but Bears defensive lineman Israel Idonije is scheduled to be headed to the North Texas area as a finalist for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, which will be handed out during Super Bowl Week.

It was announced Sunday that Nnamdi Asomugha of the Oakland Raiders, Madieu Williams of the Vikings and Idonije are the top candidates for this year's award, (ChicagoBreakingSports).

Ozzie passed on Jenks for Sale

On the last day of SoxFest 2011, Ozzie guillen said that as the 2010 season drew to a close, he passed on the opportunity to pitch closer Bobby Jenks so he could get a few more looks at the young talented hurler Chris Sale. Guillen said that Jenks told him he was ready to return to action in the last few days of the season.

"In the meanwhile, I wanted to see (Chris) Sale to see if he could handle the situation," Guillen said, "I think (Jenks) was a little upset about it. What's the difference?" (ChicagoBreakingSports)

Shani Davis takes 3rd

Chicago native Shani Davis took third place in the Sprint Speedskating world championships on Sunday. Lee Kyou-hyuk of South Korea finished in first place, with his fellow countryman Mo Tae-Bum finishing second overall. Davis skated well on the final day of the event, winning the 1,000-meter race, but was at a severe disadvantage after finishing a disappointing sixth in the 500-meter event on Saturday.

"He had to skate four solid races this weekend," Davis' coach Peter Mueller said. "If he had skated as well today as he did yesterday he might have had a chance, but Lee is very hard to beat." (USA Today)

Bears establishing smash-mouth core with Jordan Howard

Bears establishing smash-mouth core with Jordan Howard

Eric Kush was in some pain after the Bears win over the San Francisco 49ers. But it was a “good” pain, particularly since part of it was inflicted by a teammate.

The teammate was running back Jordan Howard, and the Bears left guard was learning along with his linemates that when Howard is coming, “he’s a-comin’,” Kush said.

“Oh man, sometimes you’re, ‘[groan-groan-groan], and he’ll hit you right in the back, you fall and try to take your guy down with you and stick him in the snow so you’re not the only one getting soaking wet and cold. But Jordan’s a lot fun and we try to kick some butt for him.”

The rookie running back has become more than simply a draft nugget from the fifth round of this year’s draft. Howard has established himself as an integral part of a winning formula of complimentary football, the concept long favored by John Fox, Lovie Smith and coaches who operate from the foundation of a premier running game, impact defense and solid special teams.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

The Bears’ three wins have come this season in the only games in which Howard has been given 20-plus carries: 23 vs. Detroit, 26 vs. Minnesota, 32 vs. San Francisco. Add to those the 3 pass receptions against the Lions and the 4 against the Vikings and the true centerpiece of the 2016 Bears offense is more than a little apparent.

For obvious reasons beyond simply the rushing numbers.

“Especially pass protection,” said offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains. “I think he's taken a big jump that way. When you're young in this league, those are the things that can get grey for you. You run the football, he's obviously a talented player there, but in pass pro, he's made his biggest growth.”

As a corollary to Howard, San Francisco was only the second game this season in which the Bears called fewer than 30 pass plays (the only other time was at Green Bay, when the Bears only ran a total of 45 plays, 27 of them pass plays). In that respect, the snow was viewed as an ally by some in the locker room who have been unhappy at the run:pass balance, which was just 36-percent-run coming into the 49ers game.

“It was one of these games where, with the weather, we couldn’t pass the ball like we normally do —  30 times — so we had to keep it on the ground,” said one member of the offense.

Howard’s breakout game as an NFL ball carrier came against the Lions (23 carries, 111 rushing yards, 3 receptions). The Bears, looking for a breakout of their own in the form of a first two-game win streak in more than a year, are expected to keep it simple — and in Howard’s hands.

“I always expected a lot out of myself,” Howard said. “I didn’t really think that things would happen maybe this soon or this fast. I’m definitely grateful for it.”

Bears looking into Teryl Austin’s past for clues on how Lions will scheme vs. Matt Barkley

Bears looking into Teryl Austin’s past for clues on how Lions will scheme vs. Matt Barkley

The adage “play the man, not the board” seems somehow appropriate for what the Bears are doing to prepare for the Detroit Lions behind quarterback Matt Barkley.

“The man” is Detroit defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, and the Bears have been scouting him as well as his defenses, beyond just Bears games, beyond this season and last, taking in his 2014 Detroit season when Austin prepared defenses for Jay Cutler and Jimmy Clausen.

How did Austin scheme for rookie Carson Wentz when the Lions played (and beat) the Philadelphia Eagles? How did he structure is defense to stop a rookie Teddy Bridgewater when Detroit played Minnesota? (Not very well, apparently, since the Vikings won both games and scored 54 points combined in the two games).

While the John Fox Bears staff went against Austin’s Lions defense twice last year, Cutler was the Bears quarterback. When the Bears beat Austin and the Lions two months ago, it was with Brian Hoyer.

Now the Bears quarterback is Matt Barkley, who has fewer NFL games played (seven) than Cutler has NFL seasons (11), Hoyer (eight), too, for that matter.

“Different defensive coordinators attack young quarterbacks differently,” said offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains. “Some guys blitz, some guys play a bunch of zone. This group on defense there, they have a really good defensive coordinator, they're really smart, they do a bunch of stuff. On the back end, they run all the coverages.

“As a game, we'll have to make adjustments as the game goes and see what their plan to come out is early.”

Coaches and players may talk about how they prepare for a scheme irrespective of which opposing quarterback, running back, linebacker or whatever they will be facing. But in fact, preparations start with who is orchestrating the opponent’s offense or defense – play the man, not the board.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

A risk can be out-thinking yourself trying to anticipate what a coordinator will do. The first point, Loggains said, is to start with your own strengths.

“We definitely look at that,” Loggains said. “As you go in the league long and longer, you face these guys, you see them in crossover games. We always know how a guy attacks a rookie quarterback or attacks a young quarterback, a veteran, or, in Matt's case, a guy who hasn't played as much.”

Evaluations of Barkley’s performance will broaden, particularly now that he is on tape for defensive coordinators to scheme for and scout. And while they are watching Barkley, the Bears are watching them.