Chicago Bears Preseason Locale Shifts

loviesmith

By Paul M. Banks

When the Bears shift location of their preseason practices and scrimmages, you truly know that autumn is near. On Thursday, the Bears broke Training Camp in Bourbonnais, and packed their bags for heading north to Halas Hall. It’s there, in the posh suburb of Lake Forest where the Bears will finish up the second half of their 2009 NFL preseason. The immediate focus will be on prepping for the preseason home opener versus the New York Giants on Saturday night.

This practice game will feature three Bears stars: Matt Forte, Tommie Harris, and Greg Olsen, who did not play in the preseason opener. “We want them to have a good series before they come out. Our history has been, for the most part, that in the second game the guys will play into the second quarter,” Lovie Smith told the media following the final practice session at Camp Bourbonnais.

The final session downstate featured a cutesy switcharoo. Many players switched jerseys with each other. Watching quarterback Jay Cutler dropping back and throwing passes while wearing Brian Urlacher’s number was a unique, if not bizarre experience. Usually #6 Cutler wearing Urlacher’s #54 was a great show of solidarity, and should make people forget what ex-teammate and current Minnesota Vikings receiver Bobby Wade claims Urlacher allegedly said about Cutler.

Lovie spoke about Cutler and Urlacher bonding through jersey sharing. “They kind of look alike, big stature, but that’s a tradition with our players right now, a lot of energy in camp. There’s nothing like the last day of training camp…I can still tell who Devin Hester is, some of the little skill guys even in a lineman number, you can still feel good about who he is,” Lovie said of the chicanery and tomfoolery.

So far this preseason has been industry standard. You’ve seen…

1. The multitude of really dumb fans reading too much into preseason games (i.e. idiots who now think the Cutler deal was a waste just because he looked terrible during the glorified practice in Buffalo last week).
2. Desperate sportswriters hyping up anything at all in order to manufacture something to talk about out of a non-story (Cutler’s Saturday night comments about Devin Hester were still being discussed on sports talk radio today.)

3. Position battles that might not sort themselves out until when games actually have significance. (Other than Hester, who’s going to play Wide Receiver?)

Expect more of all three between now and when the season kicks off in northern Wisconsin September 13th.

Bears Open Camp with Expectations, Controversy

jaycutler

By Paul M. Banks

When the Chicago Bears reported to Camp Bourbonaiss today, with the first practice taking place tomorrow afternoon, they were greeted with both high expectations and manufactured controversy.

Perhaps no team had a more productive (or publicized) off-season than Chicago, as they swapped QBs with the Denver Broncos, essentially stealing Pro Bowl signal caller Jay Cutler out of the Rocky Mountain state. Your grandparents were in diapers the last time they had a QB this good, and given how that’s, you know, kind of an important position, this move was HUGE- especially considering that Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers is the only other legitimate starting NFL quarterback in the NFC North division.

The Bears also made tremendous upgrades to their Offensive Line in Orlando Pace and the underrated Kevin Shaffer, augmenting what was previously one of the team’s weakest units. The world of sports betting has taken notice, installing the Bears as the odds on favorite to win the NFC North.

Vegas also thinks the Bears have the best chance of any NFC North team to win both the NFC and the Super Bowl, as the “Monsters of the Midway” have the best odds among the four teams in both categories. When people start engaging in Monday night football betting this fall, they’ll only have one chance (December 28th when Chicago hosts division rival Minnesota) to attempt to capitalize on the Bears’ historic Monday night woes. Avoiding a Monday night road game (always trouble for Chicago) is one example of how their schedule looks very promising. brian-urlacher

“Bear Weather” is essentially a myth, no matter how many meatheads tell you otherwise, as the Bears’ December record is far from superlative compared against the rest of the season. But this year, the only extremely difficult game on paper is December 20th, when they visit the Baltimore Ravens.

But it wasn’t the easy 2009 schedule or the fruitful off-season that was on orange and blue minds when the preseason started. It was a non-story surrounding a case of “he said, he said.”

Minnesota Vikings receiver Bobby Wade stated on a Twin Cities radio station yesterday that while spending last weekend in Las Vegas with Bears star LB Brian Urlacher, the Bear used a disparaging word in describing Cutler as soft.

Cutler responded thusly: “We laughed about it. I didn’t put any stock into it. I know Brian didn’t. I think he was just sorry it even came out like that. Me and Brian have been on a good relationship since I got here, and I expect it to continue that way.”

Urlacher said he was simply misquoted by Wade. “I saw Bobby at a place somewhere, and I was talking to him, but I never said what I was quoted as saying. I have a lot of respect for Jay, and I think Jay knows that. There’s never been an issue about Jay and I. We have no problems. I’m excited about football starting, and I’m excited to have him as our quarterback.”
I know training camp can certainly be boring at times, especially when no one has even taken a snap, so this exchange seems to be nothing more than a way to give starved NFL fans (that just finished enduring a long off-season) something to talk about on a very slow football news day.