Kreutz Own Harshest Critic

Lake Forest - Olin Kreutz doesn't think he's had a very good season, but he's still going to his fourth straight Pro Bowl.

Kreutz was the only Bear voted to the Feb. 13 game in his native Hawaii. Injured middle linebacker Brian Urlacher wasn't elected for the first time in his five-year NFL career, but he was a first alternate along with punter Brad Maynard. Weak-side linebacker Lance Briggs is a second alternate, and R.W. McQuarters is a third alternate as a punt returner.

"I don't know what it says," Kreutz said of his selection. "I didn't think I was going this year, that's my honest opinion. I don't think I played very well this year. I appreciate the respect that I guess guys around the league have for me.

"(But) we're 5-9; the offense isn't playing well. I'm not going to say that I'm having a great season."

His teammates and coaches can't vote for him, but the seven-year veteran has their respect, too, despite a season in which the Bears' offense has been the worst in the NFL. For the past two months, the offensive line has generally been unable to consistently pass protect or open holes for the running game.

"Olin is a team player, and it's hard for competitors like Olin to say they had a great year when we're 5-9," Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "I would expect him to make a (self-deprecating) comment like that. (But) the guys who played against him, other coaches, fans; they voted, and they see it a little bit differently.

"I think he's the best center in football this year; he'll be the same next year. That's Olin. As a player, you should be hard on yourself, and he's wanting to be perfect, and that's how you should look at it."

The Bears have started six different offensive line combinations this season, never the same one more than four games in a row. Kreutz and first-year starter left tackle Qasim Mitchell are the only offensive linemen who have started all 14 games this season.

--OT Marc Colombo will start this week at left tackle in place of Qasim Mitchell, who had got the nod in the first 14 games of the season.

--OT John Tait took some snaps at right tackle all week, wearing a brace on his right knee, and has been upgraded to probable for Sunday's game. He's expected to start after missing the past three games, which broke a steak of 61 starts in a row.

--OT Qasim Mitchell took practice snaps at left tackle and right tackle during Thursday's practice. He has started every game at left tackle but could see time on the right side Sunday if John Tait struggles in his return from a sprained knee.

--DE Adewale Ogunleye (lower leg) didn't practice for the third straight day and has been ruled out against the Lions. Coach Lovie Smith said he aggravated the long-lingering injury last week.

--DE Michael Haynes will start Sunday in place of Adewale Ogunleye cannot.


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