Calling it "very disturbing" when he learned he was benched for Monday night's game against Green Bay, defensive tackle Tommie Harris said Thursday he loves playing for the Bears and won't ask for a trade.
"No, I don't want to be traded," Harris said after practice. "I love Chicago. I love my team. I love my teammates and I play hard for this city. I play hard for my players. That is what I do every time I am out there."
Coach Lovie Smith said the decision to make Harris inactive for the Packers game was made for production reasons.
"I think I did all right (in the first two games)," Harris said. "But I didn't do Tommie Harris good, my standards and what I feel I am used to at a Pro Bowl level. But it will get to that.
"I wasn't frustrated that I didn't play, it's just that it's Monday Night Football, you know? It was very disturbing when I found out the news, but what can you do? You have great vets. Lance (Briggs), (Brian) Urlacher, guys talked to me and just told me to be ready when it is my time again."
The Bears' defensive tackle said he doesn't know if he is going to play Sunday night in New Meadowlands Stadium against the New York Giants, but isn't worried about what will happen if he remains on the bench.
"That is not a big deal for me right now," Harris said. "It's all about winning. When you win, nothing really matters at the end of the day. So, whatever it takes to help this team."
Smith was clear Wednesday that it wasn't a permanent move, but Matt Toeaina has been regularly praised and it might be difficult for Harris to reclaim his starting job quickly. Harris' agent Drew Rosenhaus was at the game at Soldier Field and met with team officials before the game. Whether they discussed Harris is not known.
"We haven't complained about what Tommie has done as far as trying to get ready for the games each week," Smith said. "He had a good practice today. We'll see how it goes."
Harris maintained he is behind doing what is best for the team and he just had to go with the decision that was made. But in his mind is he really not one of the 45 best players on the roster?
"You have to ask Lovie that question," Harris said. "That is what they said was best for the team."
Harris made the right moves after practice Thursday afternoon at Halas Hall. But if he's not back on the field soon, you can count on him becoming a significant distraction in the locker room. It will be interesting to see what direction this heads. The NFL's trading deadline is Oct. 19 but the Bears don't have depth at the position to move a player.
The Green Bay Press-Gazette reports: Green Bay linebacker Frank Zombo received a $7,500 fine for his helmet-to-helmet hit Monday night on Bears quarterback Jay Cutler.
"I guess the only thing I can do is hit him lower," Zombo said Wednesday of his critical penalty. "They're trying to protect the quarterback, I understand that. It's just a hard situation to be in. I'm going to have to pay the fine, $7,500."
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Bears will have to wait at least another week for the return of left tackle Chris Williams.
According to an NFL source, Williams will not be available for the Bears' Sunday night matchup with the Giants.
The former first-round pick injured his hamstring early in the first half of the Bears' Week 2 victory in Dallas, which forced the Bears to turn to the tackle combination of Frank Omiyale (LT) and Kevin Shaffer (RT) for the remainder of the Cowboys game. That duo started the following week against Green Bay, with rookie J'Marcus Webb also playing a few series in place of Shaffer on the right side.
Bears head coach Lovie Smith called Williams' hamstring injury "significant" the day after it occurred.
Williams was held out of practice Wednesday and Thursday according to the Bears' official injury report.
Cutler on record pace Quarterback Jay Cutler has thrown for 870 yards. He already has more yards than any other Bear QB through three games to start a season and is on pace to throw for 4,432 yards.
The Bears’ record for passing yards in a single season is 3,838, set by Erik Kramer in 1995.
Dating back to Week 16 of last year, Cutler has 1,419 yards through the air, fifth-most out of
all NFL quarterbacks. No. 1 on the list: Former Bear Kyle Orton (1,698), but his Broncos are off to a 1-2 start.
Cutler absorbs hard hits
Bears QB Jay Cutler has been sacked eight times so far this year (and 94 times over the past five years), but he keeps bouncing up and leading Chicago to victories.
He was knocked around six times against the Packers last week.
When asked how many times he thinks he got hit in the head against the Packers, Cutler answered with a smile: “I don’t know. I can’t seem to remember.”
No worries. He has proved throughout his career he is tough enough to withstand the pressure.
Cutler hasn’t missed a game because of injury in his football life, and while at Vanderbilt, he started all 45 games over four years, and missed just one practice.
Briggs ‘licking his chops’
This week’s opponent for the Bears, the N.Y. Giants, have 10 turnovers, a stat that has some of the Bears’ defenders excited to hit the field.
“We’re licking our chops. As a defense, if a team is turning the ball over you want to get the ball out,” Bear linebacker Lance Briggs said. “We pride ourselves on stuff like that. When we get the opportunity, we have to do it.”
Giants wary of Hester’s skills
Giants head coach Tom Coughlin knows exactly what an explosive return man like Devin Hester can do to a game.
“Any time they have a guy that puts the ball in the end zone or sets up a touchdown, he’s a weapon,” Coughlin said in a teleconference. “We’ll try and find any way we can to neutralize that weapon.”
Not always an easy task. Hester returned a punt 62 yards for a touchdown against Green Bay last week — his first TD return since the end of the 2007 season — giving Chicago a 14-10 lead. They went on to win 20-17.
Giants defensive end Justin Tuck says Big Blue must keep it simple, just hit Bears QB Jay Cutler
Justin Tuck thinks that sometimes football gets too complicated. The Giants' defensive end has studied the undefeated Bears offense with quarterback Jay Cutler and sees a simple answer to stop them Sunday night.
"Sack him," Tuck said. "I think we make the game a little bit too complicated sometimes.
"Just hit him."
With the implementation of new schemes under first-year defensive coordinator Perry Fewell, the Giants' defense has definitely improved from last year's debacle under Bill Sheridan. The Giants are third in the league in passing defense, holding opponents to 169 yards and less than two passing touchdowns a game.
They have not dominated on the defensive line, though. That was what helped them to a Super Bowl three years ago, terrorizing quarterbacks for 52 sacks in 2007.
So far this season the Giants' defense has just six sacks - four late in their win over the Panthers - and has been unable to really pressure the quarterback at all the last two weeks. In Sunday's embarrassing loss to the Titans, the defensive line managed to sack Vince Young once. Other than that, the Titans quarterback did not really feel pressure.
In offensive coordinator Mike Martz's system, Cutler has thrown for 870 yards and six touchdowns to lead the undefeated Bears. Cutler has completed 60 of 91 passes and been intercepted just twice. He comes into the Meadowlands with the third-best quarterback rating in the league.
Tuck would love to get his hands on Cutler and ruin that rating. Tuck has yet to have a sack this season.
"Their quarterback is putting up a lot of numbers," Tuck said. "Obviously (Matt) Forte is a good running back, but Cutler is pretty hot right now, even though he's throwing a lot of balls that could've been, and should've been, picked off."
The key to gettin
g those opportunities is getting to Cutler. The Giants know he is a quarterback who can be rattled when under pressure. Playing behind an unsettled offensive line, Cutler has already been sacked eight times this season.
The Giants' defense needs to get to Cutler not just for the sacks, they need to put pressure on him to create turnovers. The Giants are tied for seventh in the league in takeaways and are hoping to take advantage of Cutler under pressure.
"To me, the best way (to create turnovers) is to be in the quarterback's face," said Mathias Kiwanuka. "The more you get pressure on the quarterback, if you are constantly in the quarterback's face, he's going to make some errant throws and our guys will be back there read to pick him off. After that, it's a matter of hustling. Everybody's running to the ball and those turnovers are going to come.
"But it all starts with getting to the quarterback."
Wideout Mario Manningham was back at practice Thursday after missing Wednesday with concussion symptoms. Manningham was tested for a concussion before practice Thursday. Afterward, he said he had a headache after a hit late in Sunday's loss to the Titans. "I am good, I practiced today, practice Saturday and ready to play Sunday," Manningham said. "I am good. I've never really got hit in my head like that. That's why I felt like that, I had a headache." ... There was no sighting of C Shaun O'Hara, who missed the Titans game with tendinitis in his left ankle and Achilles. Tom Coughlin said O'Hara looked "more spry" in the meeting room, but he had no update from O'Hara meeting with doctors Wednesday afternoon. Coughlin said it would take "something very good happening in a short amount of time" for O'Hara to play Sunday. ... LB Keith Bulluck was on the field but did not participate in practice, Coughlin said. He is suffering from turf toe.
By JUSTIN TERRANOVA
If Tiki Barber shows up as expected to the Giants Ring of Honor Ceremony on Sunday night, the team's all-time leading rusher should be expecting boos from the crowd and cold stares from his former coach and teammates.
Barber blasted Big Blue, particularly head coach Tom Coughlin, for the sloppy 1-2 start in an interview with Yahoo! Sports.
“I don’t know if he’s completely lost control of his team, but it’s definitely slipping away,” Barber said of Coughlin. “You saw it last week with the comments Antrel Rolle made about leadership and the over-control of the coaching staff and organization had over the players.
“And sometimes that affects you and carries over into games. And right now Tom Coughlin is at a crisis, his job is certainly in jeopardy, particularly the way they ended last year and closed out that stadium, we all know how embarrassing that was.” VAC'S WHACKS ON TIKI'S TIMING
Barber tried to explain his remarks during a conference call today.
"He’s at a crisis because the perception is that he’s losing his team. .... Especially in New York ... once the media … the perception becomes reality and you start fighting against it. When you’re fighting against something that’s not necessarily real, you make it real," he said. "That’s why he’s at a crisis.
"He needs to figure out a way to get control of the situation, whether it’s playing better and not making mistakes, whether it’s having a group of players like he did in previous years stand up and take accountability for what’s going on, not pushing the blame by saying we should’ve, we could’ve, we didn’t, just coming out and saying, 'We played poorly, we need to take responsibility for it.' "
Coughlin was not asked about Barber's comments on Thursday, according to a transcript of his remarks provided by the team.
This is not the first time Barber has taken aim at the Giants. Shortly after he retired, following the 2006 season, the running back blamed Coughlin’s extreme practice methods for retiring early. He also took a shot at Eli Manning’s leadership abilities.
Barber, who has been mostly complimentary of the franchise since, was back to trash talking this week.
“They played two horrible games in a row … and Carolina has fallen off the face of the Earth, so you really can’t talk about that win being significant,” Barber told Yahoo! of the Giants’ first three games in 2010, which included back-to-back losses to the Colts (38-14) and Titans (29-10).
Barber said it’s obvious Coughlin’s message isn’t getting through by the 10 turnovers the team has committed, tied for second most in the NFL.
“Here’s the real problem with Tom Coughlin -- or at least his message -- he preaches discipline, mistake-free football, and right now that’s what the team is doing, so they are not listening to him,” Barber said. “Right now, some of the turnovers they are making are so ill-advised: The left-handed throw by Eli, the ball awareness by Ahmad Bradshaw going into a red zone area last week where they really let that game slip away.”
Barber was also asked about Coughlin directly on Thursday.
"I’ve never said that Tom is a bad coach. I think he’s a great coach," Barber said. "My issue with him -- and he knows what it is because we had plenty of discussions, some civil, some not, about how you treat people. I think his biggest evolution has been in how he has respected his players and how he’s gotten them to play for him. That’s why they won the Super Bowl in 2007, and I think that now the team and he need to find that mutual center of respect and success will come their way."
The Yahoo! interviewer suggested the Giants might need Barber, 35, to come out of retirement.
“I can’t tell you how many people have told me that,” Barber said.
He would have the time for it. One of the reasons he retired at 31 years old was to pursue a television career, and he quickly landed a job at NBC on “The Today Show” and “Football Night in America.” The network decided not to bring him back for either this year.
Barber has obviously spent some of his new-found free time thinking of ways the Giants can get better.
“You feel like this team is desperate, if that’s coming from too much pressure from the coaching staff or not enough freedom from the players’ perspective, but they got to find a way to play looser football,” Barber said. “And I think on top of that -- and this is really the problem that’s been existing there for a couple of years now especially since Michael Strahan left, Plaxico Burress not being there, Amani Toomer is not there -- they need some of these young guys to step up, take the initiative and become leaders out there, because without that guys start to fall apart and the whole kit and caboodle falls by the waste side and that seems to be what‘s happening right now.”
Watching New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin race toward rookie punter Matt Dodge on Sunday after he delivered a line-drive free kick following a Titans safety, I thought he might cut him on the spot. But the Giants will stick with Dodge this week against the Bears' dangerous returner, Devin Hester.
Hester had a 62-yard punt return for a touchdown against the Packers on Monday, so Coughlin has vowed to keep the ball out of his hands. That's, of course, easier said than done when your rookie punter doesn't seem to have a clue where the ball is going.
"You’ve got to believe that he’s going to recognize the level of competition and rise to the occasion,” Coughlin said. “We’re working with him every day. All day long people are in his ear and hopefully it’ll sink in."
The Giants aren't the only team in the NFC East having issues with the kicking game. The Dallas Cowboys rolled the dice with second-year place-kicker David Buehler and the results have been mixed through three games. Redskins punter Josh Bidwell suffered an injury during pregame warm-ups last Sunday and had to be replaced by kicker Graham Gano. And let's not forget about Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes who is 2-of-4 on field goal attempts and missed a 43-yarder against the Titans in the second half.
More than you know. You can study league stats like an accountant scrutinizing a bank after the mortgage crisis and the thing that stands out most is the winning percentage associated with taking the ball away.
It's not yards. It's not sacks. It's not big plays.
Taking the ball away is the best indicator for success in the NFL.
Consider this: Since the start of the 2006 season, teams that have had three or more takeaways in a game have a combined record of 423-97-1. Teams that get two takeaways a game are 302-211.
Compare that to not getting any takeaways in a game and the numbers are flipped. Teams that did not get one are a combined 85-329.
This season, teams with three or more takeaways are 21-7 and teams without one are 3-20.
"I do think coaches preach it more today and invest extra time in practice to teach players how to create turnovers," said one AFC general manager. "The value is tremendous because you're giving your offense another possession, and obviously that is key to scoring/winning games, especially when you giving the ball to an offense being led by Peyton Manning or Drew Brees."
Watch any practice during training camp and you'll see teams working on stripping the ball. They work on punching techniques all the time, ways to pop it free. A loose ball is golden on an NFL field.
With so much passing, interceptions are just as valuable. When a defensive player drops an interception, that player often has to do pushups as punishment.
The value of takeaways has always been there, but it's more so now with the way the game is played. The rules changes to help open up the offense means it's imperative to take the ball away if you want to slow or limit a good offense.
Let's say a good offense normally gets nine to 12 possessions a game. If it scores touchdowns on four of those, that's 28 points. If a defense can take it away three times, limiting that offense to six to nine possessions of potential scores, it should cut that scoring number down by at least a touchdown.
"The offenses are so explosive now that you have to get takeaways just to limit them some," Washington Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said. "There is more passing now, more offenses that can hit the big plays, so turning them over is a must. You can lessen the impact of a good offense when it doesn't have the ball. The yards and all that don't matter nearly as much as taking it away."