It looked like things were getting much better for Bears safety Chris Harris and his hamstring when he had full participation in practice Wednesday, after missing the Bears' last two games, which they of course lost. Well, it turns out that things just got worse.

Harris suffered a setback with the hamstring on Wednesday, and is expected to miss at least the next two games according to Brad Biggs. I'd hope the Bears can get by without him against the Panthers at home on Sunday, but next week's game is a Monday Night Football game in Detroit, against an offense that is tearing it up in the air right now. And that's unlikely to stop anytime soon with the Stafford-Megatron combo.

There is some good news in regards to the safety position though, in that Major Wright is "Probable" after suffering a head/neck injury in week two.

In other Bears injury news, running back Marion Barber(calf) will finally make his Bears debut. Expect him to immediately step in as the backup to Matt Forte, and be the primary back in short yardage and goal line situations. Well, he should be at least, but we'll see what the Bears decide on Sunday.

Also, tight end Matt Spaeth sat out practice and is "Questionable". If he's out, look for undrafted rookie tight end Kyle Adams to get more playing time.

As for the Panthers, cornerback Chris Gamble is "Doubtful", and right tackle Jeff Otah was downgraded from "Probable" to "Questionable".

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Finally, some good news on the injury front for the Bears.

Safeties Chris Harris(hamstring) and Major Wright(head/neck), along with running back Marion Barber(calf), had full participation in practice today at Halas Hall. The fact that they're practicing fully this early in the week is a great sign, and if they can do the same over the next two days, they should all be good to go on Sunday against the Panthers.

The Bears greatly need Harris and Wright back. If Harris played against the Saints and Packers, I don't think a few of those big pass plays happen, so he'll certainly be a major boost to the defense. As for Wright, my guess is that Brandon Meriweather is taking his job as a starting safety, but Wright at least provides depth(which will be nice after seeing how badly Craig Steltz played against the Packers), and the second-year player should certainly get much better.

Barber has yet to play in a game since signing as a free agent this past offseason. He's a terrific goal line and short yardage back. However, with how bad the Bears' run-blocking has been, it's hard to say how big of a factor he'll be in the offense. It's hard to do much as a running back when there's no space to run.

As for the rest of the Bears' injuries to monitor:
  • Tight end Matt Spaeth did not practice due to a calf injury. The severity of the injury is unknown, but I hadn't heard of an injury with him until today.
  • Wide receiver Earl Bennett and tackle Gabe Carimi missed practice, but they were expected to be out for a while.
  • Long snapper Patrick Mannelly was limited in practice with a hip injury.
For the Panthers, cornerback Chris Gamble missed practice today after leaving Sunday's game against the Jaguars due to a concussion. Also absent from practice was right tackle Jeff Otah(back).

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I'm not sitting here trying to make excuses, as even if this touchdown counted, the Bears would've had to recover an onside kick, and then get into field goal range in 51 seconds with no timeouts left. It's quite unlikely that they would've tied the game, but still, it's possible.

Anyway, the holding penalty was called on Bears defensive back Corey Graham(#21), who is an elite special teamer that rarely screws up.

The only possible place where a flag could be thrown from everything I've seen takes place in the first three seconds of the above video, on the left side. You can see Graham touching the shoulder of the Packers' gunner, but it's really difficult to see if there's anything there that would warrant a holding penalty.

Twitter user @cfaris09(give him a follow) sent me a screencap of it:


Maybe he pulled the Packers player down a little bit there(it's difficult to tell), but if it's just based on that little shoulder touch that we can see, it's quite a ticky-tacky call(especially with a minute to go in the game).

Whatever the case, it's a shame that such a brilliant playcall from the Bears' terrific special teams coach, Dave Toub, was ruined over this.

H/T: Black Sports Online

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Here's what the 'Madden 12' simulation on ESPN.Com says will happen in the Bears-Packers game this Sunday:



Fantasy owners would surely be quite happy with Matt Forte's production, especially in PPR leagues.

Whatever the case, I sure hope the 'Madden' guys are right about the winning team at least.

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The Bears' offensive line play was terrible on Sunday against the Saints. That is clear.

However, the play-calling from offensive coordinator, Mike Martz was even worse. He put the offensive line and Jay Cutler in position to fail by calling a whopping 52 pass plays, and just 11 run plays.

Additionally, many of those pass plays called for a seven-step drop from Cutler, and/or an empty backfield, while Saints defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams, called for blitzes all over the field. Defenders were in Cutler's face many times before he could even step back to the throwing position. Much of that is on bad offensive line play, but much of it is on the play-calling too.

Martz needs to call plays that suit the Bears' strengths. And right now, the only obvious "strength" on offense is Matt Forte. Jay Cutler certainly can be when he's getting the time to throw and when his wide receivers are getting separation, but neither of those things happened much on Sunday. And again, the time to throw is going to be an issue as long as seven-step drops are a constant in the pass play-calling, unless the pass protection on the offensive line REALLY improves. It's difficult for any offensive line to "succeed" in pass protection under such circumstances, and that's why Martz-run offenses are among the league leaders in sacks allowed yearly.

Forte, however, had a 42-yard run on his second carry of the game in the first quarter, as part of a balanced offensive drive that ended with a play-action touchdown pass from Cutler to Dane Sanzenbacher to put the Bears up 7-0.

And what sets up the play-action? The run game. Forte had five carries on the drive, yet only had five carries for the rest of the game. And what was the score for the rest of the entire game? 30-6, Saints. Don't think for a second that abandoning the run game was not a SIGNIFICANT reason for the Bears' failures over the rest of the game.

Plain and simple, there needs to be more balance on the offense. You would've thought Martz would know that coming into the season after we went through this exact same situation in the first half of the 2010 season. Many more pass plays than run plays were called, and the offense was a mess. Cutler was constantly taking hits from defenders, just like was the case against the Saints.

In the second half of last season, the Bears committed to running the ball. And guess what? They did pretty good:

In the final nine games, they ran the ball more than they passed it seven times. The two times there were more passes? Both of those games were losses. A direct reason why? Maybe not. The New England Patriots pounded the Bears' defense in Week 14. But it's fair to correlate success in the victories with the running game.
Source: Brad Biggs

Well, Lovie Smith said after Sunday's loss that the Bears need to get more balanced on offense. Finally, it appears he may be taking some control of this situation.

And today, Martz actually took the blame for the loss, and says he's going to get back to calling more running plays:


"If you are looking for blame, just blame me," Martz said Wednesday. "It's just one of those things that happened. I did a poor job of coaching."

"What happened, to be honest with you, I got into a two-minute mode too soon," Martz said. "That's one of the things I talked with [Bears coach] Lovie [Smith] about. Going into that fourth quarter, once that turnover came, there's just a lot of things; it's just not simple. But none of them are a justification. We went into that game thinking we were going to run the ball quite a bit, again there are reasons for everything, it's not that we want to do that. Nobody wants to throw the ball that much. It's not fun."

"We need to mix it up a lot more than we did in that game," Martz said. "We had a lot of pressure, more pressure than we probably suspected, and it puts a lot of pressure on some of these protections. We just didn't execute very well in a lot of areas. We just didn't play very well.

"We had one sack going into the fourth quarter, then we got into a throw it, throw it, throw it deal, really sooner than we should have. Looking back, I went back with Lovie and we always re-evaluate the game, what could we do better. In that moment when they are giving certain pressures ... there are a lot of reasons why. None of them are very good."
Added Lovie:
"Our run [to] pass ratio wasn't good enough," Smith said later in the day. "I'm not going to get in to what all happened, the private things we have. I'm sure Mike will tell you the same thing; we'll get the balance back up this week."
We'll see about that on Sunday.

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Today at Bears practice, Lovie Smith revealed some disappointing Bears injury news. Lovie said that wide receiver Earl Bennett, and right tackle Gabe Carimi, are going to be "out for a while".

Offensive line coach Mike Tice went into further detail about Carimi's situation:

“Gabe had a serious injury,” Tice said. “He’s had it before. Hopefully, it’s not going to be forever but it’s going to be an extended period of time. It’s unfortunate because he was really playing good football for us and now you’ve got to replace it. He’s an elite player, so you lost an elite player.”
Source: Chicago Tribune

The Carimi injury news isn't surprising, as I told you on Monday how he reportedly had a dislocated right knee. The specifics of Carimi's injury have been in question since then, though, with some reports claiming he could only miss a couple of weeks. It appears that the official diagnosis is a "knee subluxation"(a partial dislocation of the knee), which he indeed suffered in college as Tice alluded to.

Replacing Carimi for at least this week, will be right tackle Frank Omiyale, who looked very bad in replacement of Carimi against the Saints.

As for Bennett, he's dealing with a chest injury, and I've yet to find a clear diagnosis on what all it entails. Lovie coming right out and saying that Bennett will be out for a while surely is not a good sign though. Look for Dane Sanzenbacher to get much playing time in the slot as he did against the Saints, and to be a frequent third down target for Cutler in Bennett's absence.

As for the rest of the Bears' injuries:

Safety Major Wright missed practice with his head/neck injury, but Lovie made it sound as though it's not a serious injury.

Chris Harris was limited in practice, but his hamstring is feeling better, and he expects to be a game-time decision.

Also limited in practice were wide receiver Roy Williams(groin), running back Marion Barber(calf), and right guard Lance Louis(ankle).


The Packers are dealing with some injuries to key players of their own.

Sunday, they lost outstanding safety Nick Collins for the season to a neck injury.

Today, elite cornerback Charles Woodson(foot), and pass-rushing menace Clay Matthews(quadriceps) missed practice.

Additionally, cornerback Tramon Williams(who missed their games against the Panthers), tackle Chad Clifton, defensive end Ryan Pickett, and cornerback Davon House were all limited in practice today.

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This is our first link dump... get used to seeing them frequently though. And don't hesitate to send me(dabearnecessities@gmail.com) any good Bears or NFL articles you come across.

Bears Vs. Packers
General NFL
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Bears rookie right tackle Gabe Carimi could miss up to a month after dislocating his right knee in yesterday's game against the Saints according to Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times.

It's a huge loss for a Bears offensive line that looked exactly like the 2010 Bears offensive line(in other words, crap) yesterday, although Mike Martz certainly didn't help the cause by calling many seven-stop drops for Jay Cutler when the Saints brought the blitz constantly. It's hard for any offensive line to succeed in that situation.

But, back to Carimi- the Bears' first round pick from the 2011 draft was making strides at tackle, and looked like the best player on the offensive line yesterday. And replacement Frank Omiyale looked nothing short of terrible.

Obviously, this is a major concern going into the Packers game, as there's no doubt that Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers is going to dial up a ton of blitzes like the Saints did. J'Marcus Webb is still very much a work in progress at left tackle, and Omiyale, as I said, looked terrible yesterday. So, Martz needs to help cover up the tackles by using tight ends as blockers frequently on the edges, and better yet, CALL MORE RUN PLAYS AND QUICK PASSES INSTEAD OF SEVEN-STEP DROPS.

As for the other players that left yesterday's game with injuries:

Wide receiver Earl Bennett suffered a bruised chest, and is considered day-to-day.

Safety Major Wright suffered a head/neck injury, but not a concussion. He is also day-to-day. Whatever the case, he was responsible for the Saints' 79-yard touchdown pass yesterday, and will likely be replaced by Brandon Meriweather in the starting lineup this week, if Chris Harris can return from injury.

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The Bears and Saints are each going to be without key players when they square off Sunday(1 PM ET, Fox) at the Superdome in New Orleans.

Starting safety Chris Harris, starting right guard Lance Louis, and second-string running back(as well as short yardage and goal-line specialist) Marion Barber are all listed as "Doubtful" for the Bears. You can already consider them "Out".

Additionally, starting wide receiver Roy Williams, and second-string defensive end Corey Wootton are listed as "Questionable". Williams only practiced once this week(today), and in limited fashion. He'll be a "Game-Time Decision", but I doubt he plays. Wootton injured his knee in the August 13th preseason game against the Bills, and underwent arthroscopic surgery. He's practiced all week though and will likely be active on Sunday.

Harris is dealing with a hamstring injury, but it's not believed to be serious, so he'll likely be back next week in a huge game against the Packers. The Bears have a very capable player in two-time Pro Bowler Brandon Meriweather to replace Harris at safety, but he's still not 100% familiar with the defense after signing with the Bears on September 4th.

Additionally, starting safety Major Wright's coverage skills are still questionable in his second year, so a Meriweather/Wright safety tandem right now may give Drew Brees some holes to take advantage of in the Bears' Tampa-2 scheme.

Louis sprained his ankle in last week's game, and Chris Spencer replaced him at right guard. Spencer, who was a starting center/guard for the Seahawks over the last five years, did a solid job as Louis' replacement against the Falcons. A drop-off in production shouldn't be noticed here.

Barber missed last week's game due to a calf strain, and finally returned to practice on Wednesday. Well, he apparently had a setback with the injury. Kahlil Bell will replace him again, but Matt Forte will likely get the goal-line carries that Barber usually would.

You may remember Williams limping off the field after catching a first down in the fourth quarter of last Sunday's win against the Falcons. He suffered a groin injury, and it's still bothering him.

Much of the Bears' fan base would be just fine with Williams being out, and Knox replacing him at the starting "X" wide receiver position. On a turf surface, and against a secondary that was burned by the Packers in week one, getting the speedy Knox more playing time was probably a good idea anyway. However, Williams did play well in week one, catching all four passes thrown his way. He also made a great catch downfield on a third down pass that showed how he brings something to the table that none of the other Bears' main receivers do: Size.

Whatever the case, the Bears' passing game should still be effective in this game, provided the offensive line does the job(which is of course still quite a question mark). And Sam Hurd(Probable) should play after missing the last game. He can replace Williams in the red zone as a target for Cutler with his 6'3" height.

As for the Saints, #1 wide receiver, Marques Colston, will miss probably the next month after suffering a broken collarbone in week one against the Packers. Earlier today, it looked like wide receiver Lance Moore would be joining him on the bench, as Moore was listed as "Doubtful"(groin injury) on in the initial injury report that was sent out to the Bears' media members. But, that report was incorrect; Moore is listed as "Questionable", and it sounds like he's a good bet to play.

Starting safety Roman Harper, and starting cornerback Tracy Porter are listed as "Questionable" as well. Harper had nine tackles and a sack against the Packers. If Porter can't go, Patrick Robinson will probably step in at cornerback, and he looked bad against the Packers.

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Urlacher Returns To Practice

Posted by Matt Clapp | 9/15/2011 04:33:00 PM | , ,

Brian Urlacher returned to practice at Halas Hall today, two days after leaving the Bears to mourn the unexpected death of his mother, Lavoyda Lenard, with family members.

Last night, we passed along the information to you that Urlacher plans to play on Sunday against the Saints, and that seems even more likely now that he practiced with the team. However, this is obviously a day-to-day situation, and his plans could very well change.

His teammates believe that he will be play Sunday, though. Bears defensive end Corey Wootton said this today:
"I think he's definitely going to be playing this one for his mom. I think he is going to have one of the best games of his career."
Source: ESPN Chicago

UPDATE: According to Zach Zaidman, private funeral services for Lavoyda Lenard will be held on Saturday. George McCaskey, Ted Phillips, Jerry Angelo, Lovie Smith, Bob Babich, and Lance Briggs will attend it.

Also, Urlacher is expected to practice again tomorrow.

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With Brian Urlacher's mother passing away, the Bears are obviously going to give the star linebacker as much time as he needs to grieve before returning to the team.

But, Chicago Tribune Bears beat writer, Brad Biggs, is hearing that Urlacher plans to play Sunday against the Saints in New Orleans:

Even if Urlacher intends to play at the moment, that could obviously change in an extremely emotional situation like this.

If Urlacher decides against playing, undrafted rookie Dom DeCicco is next in line on the depth chart at the middle linebacker position. However, the Bears would unlikely be comfortable with putting him into that situation so soon, especially against the Saints' elite offense. So, they would likely choose to move starting strongside linebacker, Nick Roach, to middle linebacker for this game, and put backup linebacker Brian Iwuh at the starting strongside spot.

We'll keep you updated as more news about this comes.

Source: Brad Biggs

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Brian Urlacher's Mother Has Passed Away

Posted by Matt Clapp | 9/14/2011 05:00:00 PM | , , ,


I'm very sad to pass along that Lavoyda Lenard, the mother of Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher, has unexpectedly passed away at the age of 51. This is what I feared was the case when I told you this morning how Brian left the team to deal with a family emergency in Arizona.

Here's more on the horrible news, via the Chicago Tribune:

Chicago Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher lost the person he once called “my heart” when his mother, Lavoyda Lenard, died unexpectedly Monday. She was 51.

“My mother, Lavoyda, unexpectedly passed away Monday at her home in Texas,” Urlacher said in a statement released by the team Wednesday. “My first priority right now is to be with my family as we mourn her loss and make the arrangements to lay her to rest. This is a very difficult and emotional time for us and I sincerely ask that you respect our privacy. Thank you.”

Urlacher has been excused from the team to be with family. His status for the game Sunday in New Orleans has not been determined.

"Hopefully, we'll have Brian ready to go this week," Bears coach Lovie Smith said Wednesday, while expressing concern and sympathy for Urlacher and saying he could take whatever time away he needs.

Lt. Brent Smith of the Titus County Sheriff's Office said Urlacher's mother apparently died of natural causes.
Our deepest sympathies go out to Brian and all of those that knew Lavoyda.

And please be respectful of this situation when looking at the football side of things with Brian. He should take all of the time he needs to mourn the loss of his mother.

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Update: Brian Urlacher's mother has passed away.

Brian Urlacher has left town due to a family emergency that is believed to involve his mother, Lavoyda, and will likely be away from the Bears for several days according to the Chicago Tribune:

Brian Urlacher rushed out of town Tuesday to attend to a family emergency in Arizona involving his mother, the Tribune has learned.

Urlacher is expected to be away from the Bears for several days and his status for Sunday’s game against the Saints is unclear. Teammates, the coaching staff and members of the front office are aware of Urlacher’s situation but no further information was available Tuesday night.
Horrible to hear, and obviously football should be the last thing on Brian's mind right now. Thoughts and prayers go out to the Urlacher family.

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Welcome To Da Bear Necessities

Posted by Matt Clapp | 9/12/2011 10:55:00 PM | ,

FINALLY, we've launched. As some of you know(possibly from following the Twitter account I started over a month ago), I've intended to get this place started for weeks, but better late than never I suppose.

Anyway, I've wanted to have a Bears blog for a few years now. Many of you may be familiar with my writing- I run a guy's blog with a sports focus called Sharapova's Thigh, and a Cubs blog(although I haven't updated it very much lately because the team just pisses me off too much) much like this one will be, The Friendly Blogfines. Additionally, I'm a contributing writer on Awful Announcing, and, I'm an editor on theScore.com's Buzz section on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

So yeah, I do a lot of writing, but I haven't had a place to write very much about the Bears. Well, I decided over the last few months that I finally need to change that. I'm a diehard Bears fan and absolutely obsess over them to a pathetic degree(my family, friends, and certainly ex-girlfriends can vouch for that). And what do I do for a living? Yes- I write, so I might as well write about my obsessions.

What are you going to find at Da Bear Necessities? Constant news on the Bears, and my constant analysis on the Bears. I'll probably toss in YouTube videos and other fun stuff frequently as well. So if you're a Bears fan, or even just a football fan in general, I think/hope you'll enjoy the site. And hopefully we can get lots of Bears talk going in the comments of the blog posts.

Feel free to leave me any suggestions, and you can email me at dabearnecessities@gmail.com.

Welp, let's get this party going.

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