Kick Return Job Up in the Air

Lake Forest - The Bears are looking for any means possible to give the offense a boost heading into their divisional matchup with Carolina Panthers, even if that means having an open competition in the midst of preparing for the game.

It appears the coaching staff is still debating what kick returner gives them the best chance to win. Jerry Azumah held the job for the majority of the season, but averaged just 22.0 yards per attempt and has battled a hip injury.

While Rashied Davis' 22.8-yard average is comparable, he proved something to special teams coach Dave Toub.

"Rashied has done an excellent job for us so we'd be fine with Rashied in there also," Toub said.

Shortening the field would be a big first step in helping the offense generate scoring opportunities.

Despite having just 11 NFL attempts, Davis is an experienced kick returner. In his last season with the San Jose Saber Cats he took 6 kicks back for touchdowns and averaged 25.1 yards on 45 attempts.

"The more I'm in there, the more I can do," Davis said. "It's a matter of experience and of taking everything I learned in the Arena league and translating it into the NFL."

Health Beat
For the first time this year, Mike Brown and Rex Grossman are expected to start in the same game and that brought a smile to Lovie Smith's face.

"It was good to finally get our training camp team on the field on game week," Smith said. "I think it's the first time we've had Mike Brown and Rex Grossman both (on the field), (we have) our two leaders on both sides of the ball out there practicing at the same time ready to play this week, so we're excited about that."

There are only three players listed on the injury report. RG Terrence Metcalf is doubtful with a knee injury and would be replaced by Roberto Garza, who started 7 games in the regular season.

"We talk all along about everybody being ready and we've had to call on just about everyone at some time through the course of the season," Smith said. "Some players deserve an opportunity to play, Roberto is definitely one of those. He's played a couple positions for us, he's been a team player and it comes to that where we have to call on him I know he'll step like he's done many times before."

FB Bryan Johnson (foot) and OL Lennie Friedman (knee) are both questionable.

Student of the Game
Grossman may have only thrown 39 passes in the regular season, but he's doing his best to prepare for his first career playoff start.

Grossman has been using a digital recorder, much like one of a reporter, during meetings with offensive coordinator Ron Turner and quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson.

"I just thought it was a good way to, while I am going through my notes, listen to the meetings as well, just another added thing to try to get better," Grossman said.

Turner added, "He said he puts it on his IPod and he takes it back and he listens to it. When he has it on the IPod, when most people are listening to music, he's listening to me. I feel sorry for him. It's going to help him. But he definitely has intensified his preparation."

Bear Report Top Stories