Halas Hall Report: Thursday

Thursday was a relatively quiet day at Halas Hall, but Ruben Brown tried to explain the team's struggles in the running game, Bob Babich assessed his defense's Week 1 performance, and Lovie Smith announced a new team captain to replace Mike Brown.

Brown feels the offense just needs time
QB Rex Grossman and RB Cedric Benson have taken a lot of heat this week for their mediocre performances in Week 1, but it wasn't hard to tell that the offensive line had a rough go of it in San Diego and didn't give the playmakers much of an opportunity to do their thing. Grossman was under constant pressure and sacked three times, and then Benson only managed 42 yards on 19 carries in addition to losing a fumble. Kansas City's front seven can't match what the Chargers have to offer from a talent perspective, but Chiefs defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham is one of the best in the business – not to mention a borderline psychopath if you've seen him on HBO's Hard Knocks – and sure to have a few tricks up his sleeve.

Veteran OG Ruben Brown, a nine-time Pro Bowl selection in 12 NFL seasons, reminded the media Thursday afternoon at Halas Hall that it's not uncommon for running games across the league to struggle early in the season.

"Normally, generally, defenses are always ahead of offense," Brown said in the locker room before practice. "There's so much timing. There's just a lot of timing that goes into making an offense work. It's not just chase the ball. We all are working together to move the ball to one direction, so it's a little bit tougher than the job that the defenders have. So that's the main reason."

Brown and his line mates didn't necessarily need to see their mistakes highlighted in the film room this week because they already knew what they were on game day.

"We knew what they were on the field," he said. "A lot of times after we've run a play, then depending on where the ball lies afterward – whether we gained yards or we didn't gain yards – we can kind of asses right there what's going on that went wrong on that particular play. Now sometimes it's us and then other times it's them, so we have to battle that throughout the whole game."


OG Ruben Brown (Nam Y. Huh/AP Images)

Babich not ready to start celebrating yet
First-year defensive coordinator Bob Babich was under the microscope in Week 1 as he was calling the shots for the first time, and most Bears fans would say that he passed with flying colors. Reigning MVP LaDainian Tomlinson was held to just 25 yards on 17 attempts, and Pro-Bowler Philip Rivers completed very few passes down the field. Babich lost two key contributors in Mike Brown and Dusty Dvoracek, but he reiterated Thursday that this team has a lot of depth and talented players ready to step up and get the job done.

The Midway Monsters will once again face one of the top tailbacks in the league Sunday in Larry Johnson, so Babich is looking for a repeat performance from his unit.

"Obviously, we were very pleased with the performance in the rushing game versus LT," said Babich. "Once again, Larry Johnson is a great running back. So what we need to do is we need to stop the run, and hopefully we can play at that level we did last week."

The Bears did not, however, contain TE Antonio Gates in the passing game, and now Hall-of-Famer-to-be Tony Gonzalez comes to town and will present a similar challenge.

"It's the same thing," Babich said. "You have a good tight end [and] a good running back. Gonzalez is an excellent tight end, and we just need to make sure we keep him in check."


TE Tony Gonzalez (Ed Zurgal/AP Images)

Injury Report
TE Greg Olsen was once again only able to participate in practice Thursday on a limited basis as he recovers from a knee sprain. Ruben Brown, on the other hand, participated fully after being rested Wednesday because of a sore shoulder.

As for the Chiefs, WR Eddie Kennison is out with a hamstring injury and will not play Sunday at Soldier Field. LB Keyaron Fox (back) was only able to participate on a limited basis, but S Jon McGraw (hamstring) returned to action and participated in all drills.

News & Notes
After the season-ending knee injury to Mike Brown in the opener against San Diego, DE Adewale Ogunleye has been named the second defensive captain next to LB Brian Urlacher.

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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