Bears hurry to prepare for Pack
LAKE FOREST – Bears cornerback Tim Jennings sorted through his jam-packed schedule Monday at Halas Hall.
Weights, cold tub, hot tub.
Meetings, meetings, meetings.
Study film at the Bears’ practice facility on a TV monitor. Study film at home on an iPad.
Get some rest before repeating the routine – plus a 21⁄2 practice – today.
Oh, and hope like crazy that veteran teammates Brian Urlacher and Charles Tillman will be healthy and effective come Thursday.
“We’ve got to understand that the game is going to come fast,” Jennings said.
After waiting more than eight months between games, the Bears will play two regular-season contests within a wild five-day span. They will practice today, board buses Wednesday and play the Green Bay Packers on Thursday in what could be a pivotal early season NFC North matchup.
A win would help separate the Bears (1-0) from the Packers (0-1), who lost to the San Francisco 49ers in their season opener Sunday at Lambeau Field. A loss would even the standings and stall any momentum created by the Bears’ 20-point win Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts.
In the NFL’s longest-running rivalry, the most important game always is the next one.
The Bears hold a 92-86-6 edge against the Packers but have not won at Lambeau since 2007.
“It’s a great rivalry, a good tradition,” Bears defensive tackle Henry Melton said. “I wish we didn’t have a short week so we had more time to prepare. …
“They have the same length that we have to prepare. We saw the 49ers beat them up there [Sunday], so we have a chance.”
They’ll have a better chance if two of their best defensive players are fully healthy.
At 34 years old, Urlacher has practiced only twice since he underwent arthroscopic knee surgery in mid-August, and he struggled to shed blockers Sunday before he was pulled for precautionary reasons early in the third quarter. Bears coach Lovie Smith said Urlacher would not have practiced Monday if the Bears had taken the field because coaches did not want to overwork his knee.
Meanwhile, Tillman injured his shin Sunday and was a no-show Monday during the 45 minutes in which the Bears’ locker room was open to the media. Teammates said Tillman took part in defensive meetings but did not elaborate on his injury, which he sustained on a special teams play in the first quarter and which limited him to 17 plays before he was replaced by Kelvin Hayden.
Jennings predicted that Tillman would be ready when the lights came on Thursday.
“I’m looking for Peanut to play,” Jennings said, “and I’m looking for us to have as many [defensive backs] as we can out there to kind of stop Aaron Rodgers and that offense.”
Like Jennings, Smith said he expected Tillman to play without going into detail.
“Yes I do,” Smith said. “The glass is half-full, always.”
A completely full glass would be preferable. So would a full week of practice.
But the Bears are not in a position to complain. They know that a win Thursday would come with the added benefit of a long, relaxing weekend to savor a 2-0 start to the season.
“It’s a good thing that it’s somebody that we’ve played a lot before, so it’s not like a new team where we don’t necessarily know what they’re going to do,” Bears linebacker Nick Roach said. “We still have a lot of film to watch, [but we] have a pretty good idea of the ways they like to attack.”
That holds true for Thursday evenings as well as Sunday afternoons.