Blocked punt, TD a thrill for Wootton, McManis
Northwestern alums spark Bears with big special teams play
By Vaughn McClure, Chicago Tribune reporter
8:21 p.m. CST, November 4, 2012
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — It took Corey Wootton all of two seconds to recall the last time he scored a touchdown.
"I had an interception for a touchdown, but that was like my junior year of high school,'' Wootton said.
This time his score came on special teams. The defensive end helped ignite the Bears on Sunday with a 5-yard touchdown return of a punt blocked by teammate and fellow Northwestern alum Sherrick McManis.
"It was a good job by Sherrick,'' Wootton said. "The ball was in the air right above his head and I just kind of took it, held onto the ball, and started rumbling into the end zone. There were a couple of (Titans) on my back. I just kept running.''
Wootton said special teams coordinator Dave Toub predicted a block based on the punt rushes installed last week. McManis said it was the first block of his pro career.
"Coach Toub is a genius when it comes to scheming teams,'' McManis. "We trust in everything he does.''
Happy returns: Devin Hester almost broke his return touchdown drought when he took a punt 44 yards to the Titans' 9-yard line in the first quarter. Hester shook punter Brett Kern then got caught by Jamie Harper, a reserve running back.
"One on one with the kicker is something I like seeing,'' Hester. "Then, the guy (Harper) came out of nowhere. I saw him at the last minute. I tried to stiff-arm him, but he found a way to wrap up my legs.''
Hester last returned a kick for a touchdown Nov. 13 last year when he returned a punt 82 yards against the Lions.
Demoted feeling: D.J. Moore lost his nickel back job to Kelvin Hayden for Sunday's game. And Hayden, who recovered two fumbles, nearly scoring after one, likely secured his hold on the position moving forward.
Moore, who still played primarily on third-and-long and had two tackles, tried to cope with the demotion.
"When you're not the boss, you just roll with the punches,'' Moore said. "With the boss makes decision, you just deal with it. You kind of take it personal sometimes. I just think it's a weird situation. But as long as we're winning, shoot, I'm good.''
Injury update: Defensive tackle Henry Melton said his back tightened up in the first half, which is why he exited the game. Melton returned in the third quarter but rested the majority of the second half.
"I was good, but we were just up by so much, they just held me out,'' Melton said.
Defensive end Israel Idonije suffered a leg injury in the first half but returned to action before halftime. Coach Lovie Smith called it a knee injury.
Extra points: Safety Chris Conte followed the medical staff's orders and wore a harness to protect his previously dislocated right shoulder. … Fullback Evan Rodriguez, who returned from a sprained MCL two weeks ago but didn't play against the Lions or Panthers, finally got back on the field Sunday. …Inactive for the Bears were Alshon Jeffery (fractured hand), Dane Sanzenbacher, Edwin Williams, Matt Toeaina, Brody Eldridge, Amobi Okoye and Cheta Ozougwu.---