Intercepting a Job

Lake Forest - While Jerry Azumah eases back into the defense at the nickel cornerback spot following his Aug. 3 arthroscopic hip surgery, his replacement, Nathan Vasher, may be establishing himself as a player who can't be taken out of the starting lineup.

"Nathan Vasher -- and I've said this before -- is the best player we have at playing the football," Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "He's a defensive back that just goes for the football."

Vasher is making it difficult, if not impossible, for the Bears to give Azumah his old job back. But Vasher, who led the team with 5 interceptions last year as a rookie, says he's not worried about titles.

"It really doesn't matter to me if I come in at nickel or wherever," Vasher said. "The snaps that I'm going to be out there, I'm going to be keyed up. That's something that happened last year, something that's holding true this year and will continue. I don't figure it's my job. It's a defense, and I fit in wherever I can get in. It's no big deal."

Brown Out
Mike Brown's helmet-to-helmet hit on tight end Marcus Pollard left the Lions' veteran down on the turf for a long time before he was finally able to walk off unassisted.

The hit drew a 15-yard personal foul penalty against Brown and is almost certain to result in a fine from the NFL in the $10,000 neighborhood.

"The ball was in the air, and I had the opportunity to hit him, and I went for the hit," said Brown, who also had a 41-yard touchdown on an interception return. "It's football. It's aggressive play. The ball was there, he was there, I was there, and I just went for the hit. It wasn't intentional. It was just hard football; that's the way I play."

Pollard, who had 2 catches for 31 yards, said it was a memorable hit, but he didn't accuse Brown of a cheap shot.

"That was probably the hardest hit I've had in 10 years," he said. "I know Mike a little bit from union meetings, and he seems to be a great guy. I just don't see him as a dirty player. He's just a hard-nosed football player."

Hoping for the Best
The Bears should have a better idea of what, if anything, Adewale Ogunleye will be able to give them this week against the Bengals.

The defensive end left in the first quarter against the Lions with a sprained ankle and didn't return. While x-rays were negative, he had an MRI on Monday.

Ogunleye was hobbled with a torn tendon in his ankle last year, but head coach Lovie Smith remained optimistic that the injury is not as serious this time around.

"No indication of that all, we expect him to be on the field this week," Smith said.


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