Chicago Bears

Peppers keeps silent about UNC transcript

BOURBONNAIS – Bears defensive end Julius Peppers left the practice field Monday without addressing how his possible North Carolina transcript ended up on the school’s website.

Instead, Peppers signed a few autographs for children and headed off the practice field at Olivet Nazarene University without stopping to speak with reporters.

Peppers, 31, played at North Carolina from 1999 to 2001 and earned unanimous All-America honors as a junior. Although more than a decade has passed since he played for the Tar Heels, a link to what appears to be his college transcript surfaced late Sunday.

The link showed that Peppers received some of his highest grades in classes in the Department of African and Afro-American Studies (AFAM). A school investigation has since found fraud and poor oversight in 54 AFAM classes between 2007 and 2011, with football players making up more than a third of the enrollments and student-athletes making up 58 percent of the overall enrollments in those suspect classes.

Nine of the 10 classes in which Peppers earned a B-plus, B or B-minus that could’ve helped ensure his eligibility came in the AFAM department, according to the possible transcript. Three were listed as independent study classes, another problem area cited in the school’s probe for a lack of supervision of work performed by students.

The possible transcript lists a 1.824 GPA, beginning with classes in the fall of 1998 and finishing in the fall of 2001 during Peppers’ last year on the football field.

If authentic, the transcript would raise the possibility that the AFAM troubles go back much further than the four-year focus of the investigation.

Taking it slow: Bears quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates said he expected Jay Cutler to start Saturday’s second preseason game against Washington after sitting out last week.

Cutler, 29, did not play against the Denver Broncos a day after his fiancée gave birth to a baby boy. He took part in pregame warmups but watched the game from the sidelines.

“Forty-eight hours [earlier], he was at the hospital being a dad,” Bates said. “We just didn’t think it was smart [in the] first preseason game going in there. He’ll be back. We’re excited that he’s a new dad, but we’re proud that he’s going to be a Bear this weekend.

Extra help: Cutler said he believed that the Bears’ offensive line would rebound from a shaky performance in the preseason opener.

Yet Cutler acknowledged that extra blockers might be necessary.

“If we’ve got to keep eight in there, if we’ve got to keep nine in there, that’s what we’re going to do,” Cutler said. “We’re not going to put those guys in positions where they’re going to fail or where I’m going to get hit.”

• The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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