Rich Campbell at the Chicago Tribune on the Bears situation at defensive end now that Shea McClellin has injured his hamstring:
“With converted three-technique Corey Wootton likely to remain at tackle, rookie David Bass is a leading candidate to start at left defensive end. Cheta Ozougwu could figure into the rotation if the Bears promote him from the practice squad for the game.
“Bass, a seventh-round pick of the Raiders this year who was waived at final cuts, credited defensive line coach Mike Phair and assistant Michael Sinclair for his evolution through four games with the Bears.
“‘You always can improve on your fundamentals, your technique — so my first step, my first two steps, staying low, pad level,’ Bass said. ‘Using my hands — that’s huge in this league. As a defensive lineman, you get locked up with the big offensive linemen, and it becomes a big hugging match. You can’t get rid of them.’”
Campbell has been doing a good job recently of throwing in these little comments that help fans like me learn a little more about football. In this case, you know what Bass is concentrating on in order to improve his game. Let’s see how he does Sunday.
Mark Potash at the Chicago Sun-Times gets this quote that will thrill a few Bears fans:
“Hall of Fame quarterback and ESPN analyst Steve Young cautioned Jay Cutler to make sure he’s ‘healthy enough to go all the way to January and into February for the Super Bowl’ when he returns this week.
“’With the offense that Marc Trestman has … everybody is getting up to speed. They’ve had three or four months of playing with him, they now understand it and believe in it. I think it’s enough to carry them,’ Young, who played for Trestman with the 49ers in 1995-96, said Friday on ESPN’s SportsCenter. ‘If they can firm up the defense, get healthy, this team could threaten into February. So if Jay’s going to play … Jay, make sure you’re playing because you have an eye to playing in February. And if you’re not healthy enough, please be careful.’”
I’ll believe it when I see it. A lot of good things will have to happen for that defense to be Super Bowl quality and for every guy returning form injury, you’ll have a Shea McClellin pulling hamstrings in practice.
If the defense tightens up, fixes the mental mistakes they’re making and starts tackling, they’ll have a chance at being good enough to make a decent playoff run. But if they didn’t do it last week, you have to wonder if the problems aren’t going to be chronic.