Bears Loosening Up with Tight Ends

The Chicago Bears are using their tight ends more than they have in recent years, and they are being rewarded with solid production, something the Vikings will look to minimize Sunday in the Metrodome. Plus, get several other player notes from Bears camp.

The Bears ignored a deep tight-end class in this year's draft because they had confidence that a lighter, quicker Desmond Clark could be the receiving threat their offense craved.

So far, Clark's making the Bears look brilliant. He's tied with Muhsin Muhammad for the team lead with 10 catches, and his 162 yards are the most on the club.

"I'm not out to prove anything to the public, to the media, to anybody," said the eight-year veteran, who had five catches for 85 yards against the Lions. "I'm out there to do what I'm asked to do, and that's been my line for the last 6-8 months here. The coaches asked me to do a little bit more this year, and as long as I keep doing that I'm happy with my contribution."

Clark is getting more opportunities in the passing game this season, and he's making the most of them.

"I wanted those opportunities," he said, "but when you get them you have to capitalize on them. Right now I'm doing that, so hopefully I'm gaining more confidence from the coaching staff to call those plays and from (quarterback) Rex Grossman."

Clark had a 31-yard touchdown grab Sunday, and backup John Gilmore had touchdown catches of three and five yards. It was the first time the Bears got three touchdowns from their tight ends since Greg Latta did it on Dec. 21, 1975. The last time the Bears had two tight ends catch touchdown passes in the same game was Oct. 8, 1995, when Keith Jennings and Ryan Wetnight scored.

NOTES

  • Although Lions quarterback Jon Kitna completed 23 of 30 passes for 230 yards with a passer rating of 97.9, the Bears sacked him six times for 31 yards in losses and got into his head, according to Bears tackle Tank Johnson, who had the first sack and forced a fumble on the play.

    "Anytime you can put pressure on the quarterback early you're going to be in the back of his mind all day." Johnson said. "You can start to see it in the pocket. (Even) when he had a clean pocket, he was starting to move around. That's when you can tell when guys are worried about the rush."

  • The Bears downplayed Lions wide receiver Roy Williams guarantee of a victory, but didn't totally ignore it.

    "We prepare the same every week," safety Mike Brown said. "Words never won a football game; it's how you perform out there on the field."

    "We all know that's bulletin-board material," Bears defensive coordinator Ron Rivera said. "Not that we needed it, but we most certainly used it, and I think our guys responded very well."

    Williams caught six passes for 71 yards.

  • Backup running back Cedric Benson got just 25 yards on 10 carries, but he delivered a brutal helmet-to-helmet shot to the Lions' 6-foot-3, 235-pound linebacker Boss Bailey while picking up four yards on a second-quarter run.

    "It opened up my can of mojo more than anything," Benson said. "When you get hits like that and you get successful plays, you just kind of get to feeling good. I hit him square. We were looking right at each other and Pow! I was in the zone. When I saw the Detroit body in front of me my mind went right into punishment mode."

  • DT Tommie Harris had the first two-sack game of his pro career and also had two QB hurries.

  • PK Robbie Gould had field goals of 32 and 45 yards on his only two attempts and added three touchbacks, the first time in six years for the Bears.

  • S Danieal Manning replaced starting FS Chris Harris in passing situations and had a pass breakup and had a huge hit on Lions WR Mike Furrey after a reception. Manning also returned one kickoff for 20 yards.

  • DE Wale Ogunleye, the Bears' leading sacker last year with 10, had his first 1 1/2 sacks of the new season.

  • WR Muhsin Muhammad had four catches for 59 yards and is tied for the team lead with 10 catches and second with 161 yards, one behind TE Desmond Clark.


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