The Future is Now

Brian Waddle looks at the addition of new rookies to the Bears starting lineup, as well as some other notes from Chicago and Minnesota...

Even though playoffs are out of the picture, Chicago is at least getting playing time for its rookies. Four of the team's rookies started in Sunday's 13-10 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.

Two has been the norm the last few weeks with cornerback Charles Tillman and linebacker Lance Briggs, but rookie receiver Justin Gage and quarterback Rex Grossman joined the list against the Vikings.

Tillman's play against Randy Moss in the end zone was one that will be talked about for a while. Tillman stole the ball from Moss with 1:11 remaining to seal the victory.

"Charles Tillman just wanted the ball more than Randy did," Grossman said. "I think Charles should go to the Pro Bowl for that, as far as I'm concerned."

Second-year defensive end Alex Brown, who had two sacks and six tackles, was also impressed with Tillman.

"It was an unbelievable play," Brown said. "That's far and beyond what a rookie should do. He's not playing like one. He's really helped us a lot."

Brown is one guy who is quite familiar with Grossman. They were teammates together at the University of Florida.

"I played with Rex for three years and I know how competitive he is and how bad he wants to win," Brown said. "Sometimes I think he believes in himself a lot and he (tries) to make plays happen.

"All I was thinking was, 'don't try to overdo it.' I thought he was a little nervous at first -- he overthrew a few of them -- but he calmed down quick and started making plays. It was just a case of not trying to do too much."

The Bears' offensive line stood its ground Sunday even with Qasim Mitchell starting at left tackle instead of injured Mike Gandy and Terrence Metcalf at right guard for injured Chris Villarrial.

The Vikings put defensive tackle Chris Hovan on Metcalf for most of the game.

Coach Dick Jauron said the Bears cheated the tight end to the left side from time to time and helped with backs supplying extra blocking support.

Offensive coordinator John Shoop doled accolades on offensive line coach Bob Wylie.

"It wasn't the sexiest win the world, I thought Wyles did a good job getting those guys ready to play and as a group they really rallied and I think stepped up against what I think is an outstanding team."

Vikings owner Red McCombs has made a big stink over defensive coordinator George O'Leary taking the head coaching job at Central Florida. O'Leary is staying with the Vikings until the end of the season, but McCombs has questioned whether O'Leary will have his priorities with Minnesota.

It's a fact that O'Leary will earn $700,000 a year at Central Florida -- $100,000 more than Vikings coach Mike Tice receives a year from McCombs.

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