Halas Hall Report: Wednesday

There is a lot going on at Halas Hall today, including press conferences from both Rex Grossman and Lovie Smith, conference calls with the Chiefs' Herm Edwards and Larry Johnson, and the first injury report of the week.

Kreutz defends both Benson and Grossman
We're only one week into the regular season, but there is already some serious trash talk that has surfaced in San Diego. According to an interview on Sirius Radio, Chargers LB Shaun Phillips called Bears RB Cedric Benson "soft" and that he would "fold and take it in" after a few hard hits. Benson was held to just 42 yards on 19 carries and also lost a fumble, and this is not the first time his toughness has been called into question publicly.

Benson appeared not to be bothered by those comments when asked about them Wednesday at Halas Hall, but C Olin Kreutz felt the need to step up and defend his running back.

"They won their first game," Kreutz said. "You would think they're Super Bowl champs the way they run their mouth. They're 1-0 now, we're 0-1. They won one game. ... I guess they earned the right to run their mouth like that. If they're talking about Cedric, it was more the guy I was blocking (DT Jamal Williams) making a lot of plays in the run game than Shaun Phillips and Shawne Merriman. I guess it's easy to talk when you're behind a guy like that."

Throwing even more fuel on the fire, former Bears defensive coordinator Ron Rivera – now the linebackers coach in San Diego – allegedly told his team before the game that Bears QB Rex Grossman is a "mental midget" and can be easily rattled.

"Very inaccurate," said Kreutz. "I think Ron showed you right there why he's not here anymore. He's kind of a 'me' guy and says too much sometimes, and that's probably why he's not back."


C Olin Kreutz (Charlie Neibergall/AP Images)

Johnson will take every carry he can get
Chiefs RB Larry Johnson was one of the most productive offensive players in the entire NFL last season, but it took him a league-record 416 carries in order to get it done. Johnson will once again be the workhorse for a Kansas City offense that struggled mightily in Week 1 against the Texans, but head coach Herm Edward has said repeatedly that he has no desire to subject his star tailback to that kind of punishment two years in a row. He was held to just 42 yards on 10 carries in Houston, although he did catch 7 passes out of the backfield for another 44 yards in a 20-3 loss.

Johnson single-handedly carried the Chiefs to the playoffs last season, but never did he say to anyone – not even to himself – that he was being overworked and needed some help.

"I didn't say none of that," Johnson said via conference call. "When the time was going on, I was having fun playing. I really wasn't worried about carries. I was really worried about winning these games and making a name for myself and making sure we get into the playoffs and secure that spot. That was just the way it was. I was having fun getting the ball. That's what I like getting. I didn't really pay attention to how many carries I was getting or where I was in the whole 416-carry race. I was just more into having fun."

The Chiefs signed Johnson to a six-year contract extension with $19 million in guaranteed money after a lengthy training-camp holdout, so can Johnson appreciate the organization's desire to take it easy on him this season?

"Not really," he said. "I don't understand that. You play the way you've been born and bred to play, and that's how I've been born and bred to play is to get 20 or 25 carries. I think they're more concerned about the hits I take, but if they look at the film, I rarely ever take shots."


RB Larry Johnson (Ed Zurgal/AP Images)

Injury Report
Veteran OG Ruben Brown did not participate in practice Wednesday because of a shoulder injury. TE Greg Olsen, who was inactive in Week 1 as he comes back from a sprained knee, was able to participate on a limited basis.

As for the Chiefs, they do not report any injuries as the entire team participated fully in Wednesday's workout.

Transactions
DE Copeland Bryan was signed off the Bears practice squad by the Buffalo Bills. He was replaced by S Josh Gattis, a rookie from Wake Forest drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the fifth round but did not make the team coming out of training camp.

John Crist is the Editor in Chief of BearReport.com and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.

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