Chicago Bears

Hub Arkush: Planning for Packers begins

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Remember when you were in grade school and you’d go away for spring break for a week, only to have it end knowing you’d have to go back to school for at least a couple more months? That was Monday at Halas Hall.

And just like that first day back at school, Monday was the time to catch up on what and how everybody did during their short vacations.

Almost every day the next few weeks will have some focus on Jay Cutler and how quickly he might get back on the field.

Bears coach Marc Trestman told us Monday, “I am encouraged by his sense for how he is improving. That is a positive sign. I think we have to stay within the framework that the doctors gave us and we’ll see where he is next week.”

Strangely, the Bears seem to have a better sense of where Cutler is than cornerback Charles Tillman.

“[Tillman worked out here in individual,” Trestman said. “He didn’t practice today. He says he feels better. So, that is the only answer I can give you right now. I am not trying to keep anything from you.”

For Trestman and his staff, the main order of business as they worked, while the players rested, was a ton of self-scouting and trying to figure out where and how they can get better with the players they will have.

The coach’s main takeaway was: “We know we’ve got to control the football and time of possession. We’ve got to make sure, when we flip the field, that we make it a long field.”

Without their four longest runs, which have totaled 205 yards, Bears running backs (Matt Forte and Michael Bush) have averaged only 2.7 yards on 136 carries.

On the defensive side, Trestman says: “There are teams that are hurting in different places throughout the league and they’re finding a way to play a complete game in there and they’re creating momentum and winning. So, I think the No. 1 way we can improve is by guys just paying attention to their job and not trying to make up for a younger guy or trying to do too much.”

Although the Bears did sign veteran linebacker Larry Grant, the coaches know there aren’t many reinforcements waiting in the wings. Asked about a change at safety, Trestman responded, “I would say we are going with the guys we have at the present time and that would be obviously Major (Wright) and Chris (Conte).”

The other big question that needs to be answered on defense is whether it will be Jon Bostic or James Anderson stepping into the Lance Briggs’ leadership role.

“We’re still working through that. It could be either guy,” Trestman said. “As we get closer, we get into the start of this thing. … We’ve talked about both of them. They’re certainly both capable of doing it and we’ll see where that goes. We’ll know a lot more about that on Thursday as we finalize the game plan.”

There is little question that a bye is always a good thing in the NFL, not just to refocus but also to heal up all the bumps and bruises.

But more than that, for this Bears team, now is the time to take a look around and see what the team is made of.

• Hub Arkush covers the Bears for Shaw Media and HubArkush.com. Write to him a harkush@shawmedia.com.

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