One Sided Affair

Bourbonnais - On Tuesday the defense took advantage of an offense missing three starters. Veterans Muhsin Muhammad, Olin Kreutz and Ruben Brown were given a veteran's day off. Their presence was missed, as the defense came up with three interceptions and consistently pressured the quarterback.

A unit returning all 11 starters and in the second year of a defensive system should be ahead of a unit with a new coordinator and several new faces to plug in.

Although the unit does not physically touch the passer, there were several plays that would have resulted in sacks if the defender were able to tackle the quarterback.

Linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer, safety Todd Johnson and cornerback Jerrell Pippens all came up with interceptions.

Pippens moved from safety to cornerback last week and is starting to impress in practice.

"He's a big corner, similar to Charles Tillman with his size, really a coachable guy, has good speed, good ability, but just a matter of him playing," said head coach Lovie Smith of Pippens.

Smith was so pleased with the effort in practice that the session was cut short. The team was on the field just over 90 minutes on Tuesday.

"After a week of practice, there are a few days when as coaches you realize that we're going to have to earn our money and really get them going," Smith said. "But they came out ready to go."

New Job Opening
Jerry Azumah is not only missed in the secondary, but he did go to the Pro Bowl in 2003 as a kick returner. Even when he returns from arthroscopic surgery on his hip, it will be difficult to withstand the punishment of returning kicks. The Bears have given Bernard Berrian, Mark Bradley, Bobby Wade and Nathan Vasher an opportunity to compete in Azumah's absence.

Wade is also getting a look at the vacant punt return job, but doesn't feel a special teams role is necessary for him to make the roster.

"I'll make it as a receiver," Wade said. "Just having to win the punt-return job to stay on the team, I don't think that's the pressure I have. I think I have a big role to play in this offense, and I'm going to definitely step up and play."

Rashied Davis, who is trying to turn Arena League stardom into an NFL career, will also be given a chance to return kicks during the preseason.

"I know they're going to put me back there so it's just capitalizing on the opportunity," Davis said.

No. 1
In place of Ruben Brown and Olin Kreutz, Steve Edwards and Roberto Garza worked with starters at left guard and center respectively. Despite Dustin Lyman returning to practice on Tuesday, John Gilmore remained with the first string offense at tight end.

Injury Report
After a scare on the last play of practice on Monday evening, Mark Bradley returned to the field on Tuesday and showed no signs of having any problems with his left knee.

While Smith said defensive end Adewale Ogunleye didn't finish practice because of fatigue, his left hamstring was wrapped. Israel Idonije took Ogunleye's place at left end with the first team defense.

Ian Scott (shoulder), Terry Johnson (leg) and Leon Joe (back) all missed practice.


Bear Report Top Stories