Practice Recap: Halas Hall Report

Does Nathan Vasher have any legitimate value to the Chicago Bears anymore? Can Jay Cutler help prevent false starts by changing up the cadence? Why is Kevin Shaffer still giving max effort?

Vasher is little more than a well-paid spectator these days
Despite the fact that he has a base salary this season of $2.9 million and represents a cap number of almost $4.9 million, cornerback Nathan Vasher is officially worthless to the Bears.

A Pro Bowl selection in 2005 after intercepting eight passes, a performance earning him the nickname "The Interceptor" around the Windy City, Vasher signed a five-year, $28 million contract extension in the summer of 2007. But the former fourth-round draft pick out of Texas missed 20 of 32 games the next two seasons due to various injuries and then lost his starting job for good to second-year pro Zack Bowman in Week 2 this season. After a brief stint as an undersized free safety in nickel situations, Vasher has been a permanent fixture on the Chicago bench ever since.

He also used to be the backup punt returner, but Vasher was nowhere to be found at Wednesday's practice when Earl Bennett and Johnny Knox were fielding punts from the Jugs machine – starting return man Devin Hester was out with a sore calf.

OT Chris Williams
AP Images: Nam Y. Huh
Turner says the cadence is already as simple as it can get
Considering all the pre-snap penalties that have been whistled on Chicago this year, including four false-start calls this past Sunday in a loss to rival Green Bay, perhaps quarterback Jay Cutler needs to simplify the cadence to some degree.

Sounds great in theory, but according to offensive coordinator Ron Turner, there's nothing else that can be done to dummy the snap count down any further.

"I'm not sure we can simplify it anymore," Turner said Wednesday after practice at Halas Hall. "Last week we had four [false starts], and we typically haven't done that. It's just a matter of executing, staying focused and not doing it. There's really not much to simplify."

The Bears had season highs for both penalties and yards penalized against the Packers – 13 and 109, respectively – with left tackle Chris Williams proving to be the guiltiest party.

Cutler and Co. are having a tough enough time finding any consistency on offense, making those 1st-and-15 situations all the more difficult.

Shaffer believes nothing has changed after official elimination
The Monsters of the Midway were eliminated from playoff contention following Week 13's 21-14 loss to the Packers at Soldier Field, which means they will miss out on the postseason for the third straight year after making it all the way to Super Bowl XLI.

Right tackle Kevin Shaffer was wearing a Browns uniform back when the Bears were NFC champs, so he has no personal experience when it comes to Chicago being a true contender for the Vince Lombardi Trophy. But even though this team has nothing to play for the rest of the way, Shaffer still sees the same dedication and hard work at Halas Hall – from both his teammates and the coaching staff. The sole focus remains putting the best players on the field Sunday, with the sole purpose being to defeat the Ravens and move to 6-8.

According to Shaffer, you can never afford to give a subpar effort on Sunday because game tape lives on forever, and talent evaluator-types don't care if the player they're watching was battling a groin injury, let alone playing in a meaningless game.

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John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit and become a Chicago Bears insider.

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