Bears Special teams Regrouping and Other News..........
Bears special teams regrouping after mistake-filled night against Giants
BY MARK POTASH firstname.lastname@example.orgThe Giants’ Devin Thomas returns a kick 73 yards Monday night as the Bears' Eddie Williams tries futilely to catch him. | Julio Cortez~AP
Updated: August 27, 2011 2:04AM
The Bears have a lot of room for improvement on offense and defense, but also on special teams, which was mired in a little difficulty against the New York Giants last week. The Bears allowed a 73-yard kickoff return, saw a punt blocked and started their first four drives at their 17, 13, 14 and 19 after subpar kick returns.
‘‘It was a pretty bad day at the office,’’ special-teams ace Corey Graham said. ‘‘It was disappointing. We pride ourselves on being a difference-maker. Letting our team down like that is something we can’t let happen.’’
Special-teams coordinator Dave Toub pinned many of the mishaps on rookie mistakes and players in unfamiliar positions. Rookie Dom DeCicco allowed the Giants’ Greg Jones a free path to punter Spencer Lanning, and the protector, rookie Chris Conte, was unable to pick Jones up, resulting in a blocked punt.
‘‘[DeCicco] tried to get out real quick,’’ Toub said. ‘‘He was trying to be aggressive by covering early, and the guy showed his hands like he was going to hold up, and then he rushed, and he got us. ‘‘But then . . . Conte’s in there. He should be able to see that and pick him up, and he didn’t. The punter was kind of short. So it takes three guys . . . to cause a block. That’s what happened.’’
Mad scramble for spots: With a proven core of Graham, Sam Hurd, Brian Iwuh, Nick Roach, Craig Steltz and Patrick Mannelly to go with place kicker Robbie Gould, punter Adam Podlesh and kick returners Devin Hester and Johnny Knox, the Bears’ special teams figure to be among the NFL’s best again this season. But because the lockout meant no offseason workouts, it will take time to fill in the missing pieces.
Starters and regulars will get a majority of the playing time against the Tennessee Titans on Saturday, and reserves and fringe players will get most, if not all, of the playing time in the preseason finale against the Cleveland Browns on Thursday. But special teams will be a mad dash for roster spots in both games.
‘‘We don’t have a starting lineup yet,’’ Toub said. ‘‘We’re continuing to figure out who that’s going to be. Guys make mistakes, we find out how they’re going to do under pressure. We have to find out now, and we have to find out quick. ‘‘Some of the things we’re learning now, we would have found out in [minicamps]. These next two weeks are critical for those young players.’’
Nashville homecoming: The game against the Titans will be a homecoming of sorts for quarterback Jay Cutler, guard Chris Williams, wide receiver Earl Bennett and cornerback D.J. Moore, who played at Vanderbilt — but also for offensive tackle Frank Omiyale, a Nashville native who was in the same Vanderbilt recruiting class as Cutler in 2001 but didn’t qualify academically.
‘‘I missed by one point on my ACT, so I ended up at Tennessee Tech,’’ Omiyale said. ‘‘It was a different route [to the NFL]. But it’s given me a chance to be a testament to kids about staying in school and keeping their grades up. That one point changed my path. Luckily, I got to the same [place].’’
Still, he occasionally laments his missed opportunity at Vanderbilt. ‘‘Always in the back of your head you wonder, ‘What if?’ ’’ he said. ‘‘It just goes to show you, if it’s meant to be, it’s going to happen.’’
Pressure’s on Gholston: The Bears have to cut their roster from 86 to 80 by Tuesday and then to 53 by Sept. 3, which means time is short for players on the bubble, such as defensive end Vernon Gholston, a 2008 first-round draft pick by the New York Jets who has yet to stand out.
Asked what kind of impact Gholston has made, defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said, ‘‘Just solid right now. He’s making progress, but it’s got to be bigger.’’
Bennett makes his mark:Asked if there were any good performances on special teams last week, Toub singled out Bennett, an understated producer in any role.
‘‘Earl was excellent,’’ Toub said. ‘‘Every time we put Earl in on a special teams play, he does something good. He broke that tackle on the punt return and turned it into, I think it was a 20-yard gain. He always stands out to me.’’
Last edited by soulman; 08-27-2011 at 01:10 PM.
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