Bears give Grant a chance
Bears give Grant a chance
Defensive end picked up off scrap heap hopes to make most of shot
By Vaughn McClure, Tribune Reporter
11:50 p.m. CDT, October 5, 2010
All Charles Grant wanted was another chance. The Bears apparently seem willing to give him the opportunity.
The 32-year-old defensive end, a 2002 first-round pick of the Saints, signed a one-year contract with the Bears Tuesday after the UFL's Omaha Nighthawks waived him. The Saints dropped him in March and he spent the preseason with the Dolphins.
The move coincided with the Bears' decision to cut ties with former fifth-round pick Mark Anderson, a standout as a rookie who went without a sack through the first four games.
"It's like a rebirth,'' Grant told the Tribune Tuesday evening. "I've always admired coach Lovie Smith. He loves God, his family and this organization. When a man has those types of priorities in order, you have to respect him.''
Grant believes he now has his priorities straight too.
Two years ago, he was charged with involuntary manslaughter stemming from a February 2008 Georgia bar incident that resulted in a pregnant woman being shot to death. According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the involuntary manslaughter charge was dropped after Grant pleaded no contests to misdemeanor "affray" ó fighting two or more persons in a public place. Grant was fined $1,000 and ordered to pay $20,000 in restitution, according to the newspaper's report.
Grant was one of seven men charged in the incident.
"I didn't do anything with that case. I was a victim,'' Grant said. "I had never gotten in trouble in my life. Ö I mean I just got attached to a situation.''
Grant is facing a four-game suspension for testing positive for a banned diuretic in the infamous StarCaps case. The possible suspension won't affect him this season, with the final decision for him and other players still pending.
"I don't know what happened with that,'' Grant said. "My lawyer handled all that. The NFL didn't come to an agreement.
"The last two years of my life have been the worst, but I've been pushing through it. One incident I got in and now people want to say I'm a bad guy. The case was I was a guy down there who had money. That was the focus. The focus wasn't on the positive things, like giving camps in your hometown for thousands of kids. The focus is always on the negativity.''
Grant hopes his experience with the Bears will be positive.
The Bears will absorb about $1.4 million of the $1.759 million they owe Anderson this season. After a 12-sack rookie season, Anderson had just 9 1/2 over the last three-plus years. Reached via e-mail, he had no comment on his release.
Grant, who likely signed for near the minimum of $755,000, brings 47 career sacks from his eight seasons with the Saints.
The addition of star defensive end Julius Peppers has injected some life in the pass rush, but Peppers ó with two of the team's four sacks ó can't do it alone. The 6-foot-3-inch, 282-pound Grant could compete with Israel Idonije for time at left defensive end.
"I tell you what I do bring: There will be no running to the left side,'' Grant said. "I play the run pretty good. And when it comes to the pass rush, you have to be able to do something when you have that man Julius Peppers on the other side. You don't want to look like a fool, so you need to step your game up playing opposite him.''
Peppers braces for return to Carolina; Cutler's status iffy
Peppers braces for return to Carolina; Cutler's status iffy
by mike mulligan
Jay Cutler's availability for the game Sunday at Carolina overshadows what should have been the top story line: Julius Peppers' return to his home state for a game against his former team. A former NFL general manager raised the issue with an interesting question: Is there any way Cutler would be back Sunday if Peppers were still with the Panthers?
It's a trick question, of course, because if Cutler is going to play he must be able to take a hit from anyone, including -- or, in this case, excluding -- Peppers.
The big defensive end shook his head without hint of a smile when asked if he was Carolina's LeBron James. Maybe the more relevant question is whether he's their Donovan McNabb, who received a standing ovation from the Philadelphia fans Sunday before inevitably hearing the boo-birds when he started having success.
''I don't know how I will be received down there,'' Peppers said. ''It really doesn't make a difference to me because, regardless, you have to play the game. I still have a large fan base down there, I know that. I have people who don't like me, too. ... I don't know which crowd is going to be there.''
The Bears aren't sure that Cutler will be there. One league source predicted he won't be starting because the Bears' doctors won't clear him to play. The logic gets a bit convoluted, but it all goes back to defensive end Gaines Adams, who died in January of cardiac arrest because of an enlarged heart. There's no way the condition could have been diagnosed by the team, but perhaps the experience of losing a player at age 26 has led to a more conservative approach in all medical matters.
The Bears wear a No. 99 decal in honor of Adams and might acknowledge him in another way, too. The source said the Bears red-flagged a whopping 14 players out of the Indianapolis Scouting Combine, including one player who went in the first round. It was a direct reaction to the Adams tragedy. Linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer was deemed out for the season because of a concussion instead of being given a few weeks to clear his head.
Every concussion is different
Not surprisingly, the Bears find the theory absurd. A team source said doctors always have been fully committed to player safety and in the forefront of concussion management. A conservative approach is nothing new, and connecting Adams and Cutler is illogical because the medical issues are so different. As for Hillenmeyer, the team insists every player's situation is different regarding concussions.
Research shows one concussion can make a person more susceptible to another, and the severity of injury increases the more you have them. Justin Morneau of the Minnesota Twins, for instance, recently was ruled out of the MLB playoffs after failing to recover fully from a concussion suffered July 7 when he was kneed in the head on a takeout slide at second base. Morneau suffered at least one severe concussion while playing hockey in his early teens and another when he was beaned in 2005.
Nobody is sure how many concussions Cutler has received, but the Bears knew Hillenmeyer once complained of vertigo that might have been related to concussion. Presumably, they are aware of any other concussions he received as an NFL player because he has spent his entire his eight-year career with the team. The Bears also have a baseline test for every player that is used to measure injury. League guidelines dictate that any player suffering a concussion must pass a neurological examination with a team physician and an independent doctor.
The NFL is a violent sport where the quarterback is hunted prey. Cutler will be targeted and hit as he has been in every game this season. Given the Bears' protection concerns, Cutler likely will be hit multiple times, a fact that isn't supposed to matter in the final evaluation but probably should.
Peppers came to Chicago after Adams passed away, but the Bears insist they would have signed him even if Adams had lived. Ideally, the two would have played opposite each other. Peppers was the best player on the free-agent market, even if he had a reputation for taking plays off, something that hasn't remotely been a problem for him with the Bears. Doubters in Carolina say that is because Peppers has wanted to play well in his debut with the Bears and in nationally televised games against Green Bay and the New York Giants.
Decision to leave was easy
No doubt he'll want to play well against his old team, too, especially if the defense is effectively left to fend for itself without Cutler under center. Peppers said he didn't leave Carolina of his own accord. The Panthers decided to go in another direction and made his decision to leave easy.
''I have moved on,'' he said. ''I am here now, and it's all about this team.''
If it is all about the Bears, then it's all about Cutler. His status might be a headache for everyone involved, including the doctors responsible for clearing him to play.
WED BEAR NEWS- peppers, grant,anderson,manning,taylor,manu,louis
1. Danieal Manning: Having developed a reputation for questionable decision-making over the first four years of his career, Manning has put together a string of solid performances this season. Manning led the Bears with 11 tackles against the Giants, including eight solo stops. On special teams, Manning averages 24.4 yards per kickoff return, which ranks 21st in the NFL. Manning still needs to make more of an impact against the pass. But itís refreshing to see Manning play relatively error-free in that area, while making significant contributions on special teams and against the run.
2. Julius Peppers: Peppers deserves some of the credit for the swagger permeating Chicagoís defense. Peppers forced his second fumble of the season on Sunday, when he knocked the ball out of quarterback Eli Manningís hands, in addition to scoring his second sack of the year. Opponents continue to struggle at containing Peppers, which frees up teammates such as Israel Idonije, who recorded his first sack of the year against the Giants. Peppers was officially credited Sunday with two quarterback hits, and a pass breakup. Yet he still hasnít produced what youíd call a signature game, which we believe comes on Sunday when Peppers lines up against the Panthers, team that originally drafted him.
3. Chester Taylor: Too bad Taylor isnít used more, because when the team remembers to call his number, the running back produces for the most part. Taylor touched the ball just three times against the Giants -- all runs -- and averaged 7.3 yards per attempt. Although Chicago considers Matt Forte to be the lead back, it should consider increasing Taylorís involvement, given his ability (especially in pass protection) and the teamís financial commitment to him. The Bears have shown a few formations that feature both Forte and Taylor in the backfield. But theyíve utilized them sparingly. That needs to change.
1. Offensive line: Center Olin Kreutz took a no-excuses outlook on Sundayís disaster, which is the right way to look at things. The rest of the offensive line needs to do the same if it expects to bounce back from allowing an NFL-record nine sacks in just one half against the Giants. The absence of left tackle Chris Williams appears to be taking a major toll on the cohesiveness of this unit (partially because of all the shuffling the team has done), which has been further depleted due to injuries to guards Roberto Garza and Lance Louis. Kevin Shaffer, JíMarcus Webb and Frank Omiyale have filled in admirably at tackle, but the club needs to return the offensive line to its original state. Enough with the experiments.
2. Mike Martz: The clubís new media policy doesnít allow assistants to speak after games, which seemed especially convenient after the Bearsí loss to the Giants. Of the teamís 27 first-half plays on offense, Martz called passes on 20 of them, which seems to fly in the face of Lovie Smithís stated run-first philosophy. The Bears passed on 11 of their 15 snaps in the second quarter and, coincidentally, Jay Cutler was sacked on seven of those plays. Given all the punishment Cutler was taking, was it impossible for Martz to adjust the playcalling to compensate, which in turn, could possibly have kept the quarterback in the game?
3. Brandon Manumaleuna: The Bears paid Manumaleuna, a blocking tight end, more than $6 million guaranteed to use him essentially as a sixth offensive lineman. So far things havenít panned out, and his shaky blocking performance against the Giants highlights a rocky start by Manumaleuna, which includes offseason knee surgery that led to him playing in less than half the offensive snaps leading into Sundayís game, in addition to a $22,000 fine for missing meetings. The Giants used just four rushers Sunday to rack up most of their sacks (eight) against five Bears offensive linemen. Manumaleuna was supposed to be the sixth protector on a couple of those plays, and defenders routinely blew past him with little resistance.