Sharper Starts War of Words With TEs

The Chicago Bears' tight ends have become an integral part of their offense, but safety Darren Sharper had some sharp words about him covering tight ends, which didn't sit well with the two productive ones in the Bears locker room.

One of the main responsibilities of NFL safeties is to cover tight ends, but 11-year veteran Darren Sharper apparently isn't too worried about the Bears' duo of Desmond Clark and rookie Greg Olsen, who combined for seven catches, 119 yards and 2 touchdowns last week.

"I'm never concerned about a tight end," said Sharper, who has seven of his 51 career interceptions vs. the Bears. "Never. I played corner when I first came into the league. If a tight end catches the ball on me, then I need to be fired."

Sharper was asked if that meant Clark and Olsen also shouldn't catch any passes on him.

"(Not) any tight end in the league," he said, raising his voice. "I'm never concerned about tight ends."

Interesting ... especially to Clark and Olsen.

"I guess when you're the best safety in the league, a first-ballot Hall of Famer, the Brett Favre of safeties, you can do that," said Clark, who's second on the Bears with 19 catches and 231 yards. "I guess he's a shut-down safety, and when you're a shut-down safety, that's what you do.

"I guess he doesn't have to worry about his job security. I don't even know if we should show up. I'm thinking about staying home. He's already shut me down, and we're not going to catch any passes. There it is."

Olsen, who missed the first two games of the season with a sprained knee but had four catches for 57 yards last week, was equally "intimidated."

"I'm not going (to comment on that)," Olsen said. "Dez hit the nail on the head. We haven't done any pass plays to the tight end this week (in practice).

"I'll go out on the limb and say a tight end has caught the ball (on him) one time. But I'm not really worried about what he thinks. The tight ends know what we're capable of, and we're not really worried about him either."

Fortunately for the Bears, their tight ends are capable of picking up the slack for a passing attack that might be working with its leading producer hobbled and its former go-to guy ineffective. Wide receiver Bernard Berrian (team-best 25 catches and 330 yards) hasn't practiced yet this week with a toe injury that knocked him out of the Packers game in the second half, and Muhsin Muhammad has just 10 catches for 102 yards.

Clark and Olsen (six catches for 85 yards in two games) have contributed more than a quarter of the Bears' receptions and almost a third of their receiving yardage, even though the rookie has played in just three games. If defenses have to account for Clark's skill in exploiting gaps in coverage underneath in addition to Olsen's ability to stretch the field vertically, that could make them vulnerable elsewhere.

"They're both very good players, and Brian (Griese) did a good job of going to them (vs. Green Bay)," Bears offensive coordinator Ron Turner said. "We've got to continue to keep them involved. The more they get involved and make plays, that's going to open up some things and give us some more opportunities to make big plays. Two really good tight ends who can make plays in the passing game — that's a huge plus for us."


  • LB Lance Briggs (hamstring) was added to the injury report and didn't practice Thursday, but he is expected to play.

  • CB Charles Tillman (ankle) returned to full practice Thursday after sitting out Wednesday, and he is expected to play Sunday.

  • DT Tommie Harris (knee) missed a second straight day of practice Thursday, but he is expected to play on Sunday.

  • OLT John Tait (high ankle sprain) is expected to miss a second straight game. He did not practice Wednesday or Thursday.

  • CB Nate Vasher (groin) has not practiced this week and isn't expected to be back for at least another week.

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