Ayanbadejo prepares to put his season on hold
By Larry Mayer
LAKE FOREST, Ill. – Most Bears players are eager to play Thursday night’s preseason finale against the Browns so that they can begin preparing for the regular season opener Sept. 9 in San Diego. But Obafemi Ayanbadejo isn’t one of them.
The backup fullback is suspended for the first four regular season games without pay for violating the NFL’s policy on anabolic steroids and related substances. Ayanbadejo flunked a drug test after unknowingly ingesting a banned substance in an over-the-counter supplement.
“Everyone’s excited to get past the preseason,” Ayanbadejo said. “Everyone’s excited to get ready for a regular season game. But I really can’t get excited about that right now. There are so many things that I still have to get past mentally and physically before I can start thinking about an actual regular season game.”
Not allowed at Halas Hall during his suspension—which begins Saturday—Ayanbadejo will spend time both at his home in San Diego and in Chicago, working out on his own. He’ll be in San Diego when the Bears play the Chargers, but isn’t planning on attending the game.
“I’m going to see if some of the guys want to go to dinner the night before,” Ayanbadejo said. “I’ll take them somewhere that they’ll enjoy and then I’ll watch the game at home on TV with my mom. I hate to have to explain to everybody every time they see me, ‘Why are you here? What are you doing? Aren’t you supposed to be playing?’
“I can’t be on the field; I’ve got to be in the stands. So the last thing I want to do is be answering questions for two hours about why I’m not playing.”
No distraction: Veteran receiver Muhsin Muhammad doesn’t think that Lance Briggs’ well-publicized car accident has hindered the Bears from preparing for the regular season.
“I don’t think it’s a distraction,” Muhammad said. “If I go out and get a speeding ticket, I don’t think it’s going to be a distraction to the team. Lance had an accident. I think he feels the love of the city. Everybody’s concerned about him.
“We’re concerned about what happened to him and so we’re comforted by knowing that Lance is OK. We can replace the car. I’m pretty sure that it’s going to be pretty expensive to replace the car. I’d like to have one of those cars. It’s probably more expensive than a house. But the most important things are taken care of, that Lance is OK and he’ll be on the field.”
Not worried: Coach Lovie Smith continues to maintain that he isn’t concerned about a Bears running attack that has averaged just 2.8 yards per carry in the first three preseason games.
“Sometimes it’s about carries,” Smith said. “If you continue to run the football—I think we had about 40 [attempts] last week—we’ll break some. If you have a physical running game, we may go a while without getting big numbers, but eventually it will happen. That’s what we hope to see against Cleveland and throughout the season. We’ll continue to run the football and eventually in the fourth quarter we’ll start getting bigger runs.”
Cedric Benson has averaged just 2.4 yards per carry on 34 rushes in the preseason, but he has yet to play into the second half when he is more likely to wear down defenses.
“I have a good idea of what will happen at the end,” Smith said. “I know that Cedric gets stronger as the game goes along. I know our offensive line is expecting to dominate late in the game. That’s what I assume will happen once we play the games that really matter.”
Battling back: Rookie defensive end Dan Bazuin is making steady progress while continuing to fight through a knee injury that forced him to miss much of the offseason program.
The second-round draft pick recorded one of the Bears’ two sacks in last Saturday night’s preseason win over the 49ers when he dropped Trent Dilfer for a six-yard loss on third down.
“I think I’ve done well enough in practice that the coaches are starting to put a little bit of confidence in me and are able to trust me out there on special teams,” Bazuin said.
The Central Michigan product finds himself in a bit of a catch-22 situation, eager to prove himself but also having to be patient while his knee continues to heal.
“We’re going through that right now,” he said. “At this point, my knee is well enough to play, but it’s not 100 percent. I’ve gone back and forth with both the coaches and the training staff about that, and we’re kind of taking it day-to-day like we have done for all of training camp.”
Fullback Obafemi Ayanbadejo is suspended for games against the Chargers, Chiefs, Cowboys and Lions.
Source: http://www.chicagobears.com/news/NewsSt ... ry_id=3760
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