“Julius being on the field helps everybody else,” linebacker Lance Briggs said. “You see Izzy (Israel Idonije) leading the team in sacks (with 4½), being able to get those one-on-one opportunities and not just the sacks that Izzy’s getting, but the pressure he’s able to get. And even the pressure that Peppers gets (despite) chips and extra attention (from running backs and tight ends), his presence alone makes us a lot better.”
Linebacker Brian Urlacher has been singing Peppers’ praises since training camp.
“He’s a great player. I say it every week,” Urlacher said. “ ‘He only has 2 sacks,’ people say. But look at how many times he gets to the quarterback, look what he does in the running game. Just him being out there helps our defense. He runs to the football, he plays hard. He doesn’t say much, but he does his job every play.
“Most d-linemen want to rotate. But he doesn’t want to come off the field. He might not get a lot of sacks right now, but he’s getting holding penalties, and he’s getting to the quarterback and getting in his face a bunch.”
Ready to run:
The Bears have attempted three times as many passes as runs in their previous two games, both losses, and coach Lovie Smith and offensive coordinator Mike Martz have both paid lip service to the concept of offensive balance.
Now it’s time to do more than talk abut it.
“We talk about having more balance,” Smith said. “It doesn’t do a whole lot of good to talk about stuff, though. We need to get to the game, and the team you see on the football field Sunday should be able to go some place.”
At 4-3 the Bears trail the Packers by half a game in the NFC North, but 10 of the 16 teams in the tightly bunched NFC have either four or five victories.
“This is a really big stretch for us,” Smith said. “Football really starts in November. You get yourself in position before then, and we’re in position to make a run.”
Linebacker Brian Urlacher had an interesting, although obvious and slightly sarcastic, explanation for the tightly packed NFC.
“The main thing is,” Urlacher said with a straight face, “we all pretty much have the same records, so it’s pretty close.”
Urlacher was then asked why so many teams were so close record-wise.
“Because we’ve (all) lost games,” he said. “I don’t know why. I’m not worried about other teams. If we take care of business, we should be one of the better teams in the NFC. I’m not worried about what other teams do. I’m glad they’re not 6-1 or 7-0. I think there’s a lot of parity right now in the NFL and that helps with the closeness of the games.
“Even Buffalo at 0-7 (in the AFC), they’re not a bad football team. They’ve had a tough schedule and they’ve lost some close games.”
The combined record of the Bills’ first seven opponents is 34-17, and they have not played a team with a losing record.
Linebacker Lance Briggs (ankle) and guard Edwin Williams (back) practiced Friday and were listed as probable for Sunday. Tight end Desmond Clark suffered a neck stinger in Thursday’s practice and is questionable, while cornerback Zack Bowman (foot) is out but hopes to return to practice next week.