Brown is confident the defense will be ready for its rematch with Detroit
Defensive end Alex Brown wasn't very happy when he showed up for veteran mini camp this past spring, which is understandable considering the two-time Pro-Bowl alternate had lost his starting job to second-year pro Mark Anderson. Brown's numbers are down significantly this season (8 tackles, 1 sack) since he's now the No. 3 D-end, sharing time with Anderson on the right side and Adewale Ogunleye over on the left. However, Brown is still the consummate team player, as evidenced by how visibly upset he was following the club's embarrassing 34-31 defeat at the hands of the Vikings in Week 6 when his defense was shredded for a franchise-record 311 yards on the ground.
DE Alex Brown
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The Midway Monsters have already lost to the Lions – their opponent again Sunday at Soldier Field – once this season, putting even more urgency on them to start stockpiling wins against NFC North opponents.
"We'll be ready to play come Sunday," Brown said Thursday before practice at Halas Hall. "It was unfortunate what happened there. They scored a lot of points in the fourth to beat us, and I guess you've got to give them credit. They beat us. That day, they were better than us. Hopefully, it turns out a little differently this Sunday."
The Bears surrendered an NFL-record 34 points in the fourth quarter in their first matchup with Detroit in Week 4 but, according to Brown, the loss itself put a bad enough taste in his mouth regardless of the numbers associated with it.
"If they had put up three [points] and it caused them to win the game," he said, "it would have been the same taste."
On a lighter note, since the Giants and Dolphins are playing in London this weekend, would Brown welcome the opportunity to suit up for a regular season game across the pond one of these days?
"I don't think they're gonna ask me when the decision gets made," Brown said with a chuckle. "They got a football field over there? 120 yards? Grass? ... If they've got that, I'll play."
Toub needs to find ways to get the ball in Hester's hands more often
Bears special teams coach Dave Toub has a reputation as one of the best in the NFL at what he does, and he earned it even before the most feared return man to come along in years, Devin Hester, was drafted in the second round last year. That being said, Toub is searching for answers after the Eagles completely took Hester out of the game on special teams by punting the ball directly out of bounds and kicking off high and short to the upbacks. The Monsters of the Midway are tops in the league in terms of starting field position on offense, but Hester's quick-strike ability in the return game has become one of the signatures of this football team.
Special teams coach Dave Toub
M. Spencer Green/AP Images
The punt- and kickoff-return units have been forced to alter their approach this week as they prepare for the Lions, something that's been tough on Toub and his entire crew.
"It's a little frustrating," Toub said Thursday after practice. "During the week, we practice. You have to practice returns, and we do that. Now we're practicing a lot [of] squibs and bloops and all kinds of crazy kicks and all kinds of situations. That's just the way it's going right now."
WR Rashied Davis and RB Adrian Peterson have been charged with fielding those short kickoffs, but the idea of then pitching the ball back to Hester so he can do his thing is simply not an option according to Toub.
"That's a risky play," he said. "If there's almost [no] time left [on the clock] at the half or at the end of the game, that's something we might think about. But during the regular course of a game, it's something that's too risky."
So is Toub starting to get suggestions from Bears fans as far as how to take full advantage of Hester's once-in-a-generation talent?
"You name it, I'm hearing it," he quipped.
For the Bears, DE Alex Brown (back), S Brandon McGowan (elbow), and CB Nathan Vasher (groin) were all held out of practice Thursday. OT Fred Miller (ankle) and DT Darwin Walker (knee) were both only able to participate on a limited basis. OG Ruben Brown (shoulder), DT Tommie Harris (hamstring), and LB Jamar Williams (illness) took part in all drills after missing some or all of Wednesday's session.
News & Notes
Since the Bears will be wearing orange jerseys Sunday at Soldier Field, the offense wore orange practice tops Thursday as opposed to the usual navy blue they've been sporting since the team broke training camp in Bourbonnais.
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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