2007 Chicago Bears

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Bears' Ayanbadejo Suspended Four Games

AP - The NFL suspended Bears fullback Obafemi Ayanbadejo for the first four regular-season games without pay for violating the league's policy on anabolic steroids and related substances.

The suspension begins Sept. 1 and ends following the game against Detroit on Sept. 30. He is eligible to participate in preseason games and practices.
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With physical, mental and spiritual improvement, Bears' Bradley anticipates big season

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. (AP) -An ankle injury limited him last year and a torn-up knee ended his rookie season in 2005. So it was only natural that Mark Bradley wondered if he should continue.

It was not shocking, either, that those thoughts quickly vanished.

Now, the Chicago Bears wide receiver said he's ``physically, mentally and spiritually'' better as his third season approaches, and he's ready to show that he can withstand the grind of an NFL season.

``People can quote what they want to quote,'' Bradley said. ``I know what I'm made of, what I'm capable of doing. I think the Bears know the same. Injuries just happened at the time that they did, but I don't think they think that I'm injury prone. That's just one thing I can't worry about.''

He's more focused on establishing a spot in the rotation.

A team that has relied on the running game the past few years might open up the offense a bit with a deep set of receivers and a quarterback - Rex Grossman - in his second full season as a starter.

Veteran receiver Muhsin Muhammad showed few signs of slowing down last season, finishing with 863 yards and five touchdowns. Bernard Berrian emerged as a dangerous deep threat with 775 yards and a career-high six touchdowns, four of which were 34 yards or longer.

Return specialist Devin Hester is making the switch from defense to offense. The Bears drafted Greg Olsen in the first round to give them another pass-catching tight end to go with Desmond Clark.

Then there's Bradley.

A second-round draft pick out of Oklahoma in 2005, he is only 25. And at 6-foot-2 and 198 pounds, he may have the best combination of size and speed of any Bears receiver. In high school, he set the Arkansas state high jump record when he cleared 7-4, and he long jumped 24-7 1/2. That athleticism allows him to get to balls others can't catch.

When he's healthy, Bradley gives the Bears another deep threat to go with Berrian. But he's had difficulty staying on the field.

As a rookie, Bradley was second on the team to Muhammad with 18 catches for 230 yards before tearing the ACL in his right knee. That happened against Detroit in late October, in a game coach Lovie Smith said was his ``coming out party.'' Bradley, who had five catches for 88 yards in that game, landed awkwardly after hurdling Lions cornerback Andre Goodman on a 13-yard play late in the first half.

Last year, just as his knee was healing, Bradley suffered a high ankle sprain that caused him to miss five games. He had just one reception for 5 yards midway through the season before catching 13 passes for 277 yards and three touchdowns over the final eight games. That included a 57-yard touchdown against the Giants and a 75-yarder against Green Bay in the regular-season finale.

He's off to a good start this year.

He has made several eye-popping catches in camp and, most importantly, he's healthy.

``Last year, he wasn't healthy in camp,'' offensive coordinator Ron Turner said. ``He'd practice a day or two and be off a day or two, and he wasn't 100 percent when he did practice. He's practicing well. He's playing with a lot more confidence. We'll definitely have a role (for him).''

The Bears plan to use three or even four receivers at times, and Bradley will likely be in when they do. He'll also see time on the field with Muhammad or Berrian.

``Being in training camp, I feel like I'm in the best shape I can possibly be in,'' Bradley said. ``My confidence level is skyrocketing.''

The younger Bradley leans heavily on his father Danny, a quarterback at Oklahoma in the early 1980s.

``Dad's been there and done it,'' Mark Bradley said. ``Dad's done everything that I'm trying to accomplish. That road is not dark. It has lights on it, and it has arrows pointing what direction to go to. The yellow brick road is kind of easy.''
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Texans fall to Bears in Schaub's debut

NFL.com - Matt Schaub's first pass for the Houston Texans was for 2 yards. His second one was dropped.

This revamped Texans offense sure looks a lot like the old one.

Schaub, who replaced David Carr after backing up Michael Vick for three years in Atlanta, had an inauspicious debut going 3-for-5 for 25 yards. But the defending NFC champion Chicago Bears scored 13 fourth quarter points, including a 47-yard go-ahead field goal by Robbie Gould with 2:23 remaining to beat the Texans 20-19 in the exhibition opener for both teams Saturday night.

The Texans got Schaub in a trade with the Falcons in March and released Carr, the No. 1 pick in 2002, after he failed to lead Houston to a winning record in five seasons.

That first drive, which also featured a 1-yard run by new Texan Ahman Green, ended in a punt. On his second and last series, Schaub looked a bit better, finding Andre Johnson for a 15-yard gain and Owen Daniels up the middle for 8 yards.

The Texans had to settle for a field goal that put them ahead 3-0 after Schaub overthrew a wide-open Kevin Walter in the end zone on third-and-4.

"I thought he did some good things," coach Gary Kubiak said. "He had a chance for a lay-up touchdown there at the end and he misses Kevin in the corner of the end zone."

And this was against a Bears defense missing both Pro Bowl linebacker Brian Urlacher and star defensive tackle Tommie Harris, who didn't suit up.

"I felt really comfortable right from the start," Schaub said. "We were in rhythm, we had a good tempo. The whole time we were in there, we did a good job of getting in and out of the huddle and executing our assignments."

The 30-year-old Green, who signed with the Texans in March after seven seasons in Green Bay, finished with three carries for 7 yards.

Johnson, a Pro Bowler last season, was encouraged by Schaub's performance.

"I think a lot of the decisions he made tonight were some pretty smart decisions," Johnson said. "I'll tell you one thing, he'll stay in that pocket and throw that ball. That's something you have to love about the quarterback."

Rex Grossman looked sharp in two series and completed his first eight passes. He found first-round pick Greg Olsen for a 5-yard gain before hitting Muhsin Muhammad for 10 yards on the first drive.

"I have a feeling he will make a lot of those catches over the course of the year," coach Lovie Smith said of Olsen.

Grossman was 8-of-10 for 50 yards.

"We moved the ball pretty well," Grossman said. "For the first preseason game that was fine, and that's really all you try to do is look sharp and execute."

Cedric Benson, in his first season as the featured back, had five carries for 23 yards. It was the first career preseason game for the former University of Texas standout after he sat out as a rookie because of contract negotiations and last year with a shoulder sprain.

"Cedric Benson ran the ball really well," Smith said. "He had three catches, which is good to get him back in the flow."

Backup Brian Griese's first pass was intercepted by Von Hutchins, who ran it back 20 yards. The Texans added another field goal that made it 6-0.

Griese redeemed himself on the next drive, finding Mark Bradley for a 31-yard gain before a short touchdown pass to fullback Obafemi Ayanbadejo put Chicago ahead 7-6 in the second.

The NFL suspended Ayanbadejo for the first four regular-season games without pay for violating the league's policy on anabolic steroids and related substances on Thursday. He denied taking steroids and blamed the test results on an over-the-counter supplement. The suspension begins Sept. 1.

Houston's Jerome Mathis returned a kickoff 78 yards after the Bears' TD. The third-year player, who missed 14 games with injuries last season after making the Pro Bowl as a rookie, was finally brought down by Gould. The return set up Kris Brown's third field goal, a 42-yarder, to make it 9-7. Brown also had a 29-yarder.

"It was fun, kind of like being a rookie all over again," Mathis said.

Jeb Putzier caught a 6-yard touchdown pass from Sage Rosenfels in the third quarter to push Houston's lead to 19-7.

Last year's No. 1 overall pick Mario Williams, playing at right end, didn't have a tackle and rookie tackle Amobi Okoye had just one assist. Okoye, drafted 10th this year, did get in the backfield once and hurried Grossman.

A 3-yard touchdown pass from Kyle Orton to Fontel Mines cut the lead to 19-14 early in the fourth quarter and Gould added a 44-yard field goal with 4:52 to play.

Texans strong safety Glenn Earl injured his foot, linebacker Shawn Barber has a shoulder strain and cornerback Jason Horton fractured his arm on Saturday.
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Few issues face new defensive coordinator Babich

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. (AP) -Given that the defense has dominated in recent seasons and most of the starters are back, Bob Babich seems to have few decisions to make.

Well, the Chicago Bears' new defensive coordinator made one last Saturday.

He chose to stay on the sideline rather than watch the preseason opener at Houston from upstairs.

``There were some concerns I had about being downstairs,'' said Babich, in his fourth year as a Bears assistant. ``I think I had those things answered last week, and I'm looking forward to seeing how it works out this week.''

He has few concerns about the defense. And why would he? That unit has dominated in recent years, most of the starters are back, and there are few issues to resolve in training camp.

In his first unofficial game as defensive coordinator, Babich watched as the Bears held the Texans to 235 yards in a 20-19 victory, even though Pro Bowl linebacker Brian Urlacher and defensive tackle Tommie Harris did not suit up.

Houston's first drive ended in a punt, and the second led to a field goal. But the Bears saw plenty to like from the defense. There was strong safety Adam Archuleta, acquired in a trade with Washington, getting a hit on Texans quarterback Matt Schaub during his limited playing time.

``It was a lot of fun,'' said Babich, in his fourth year as a Bears assistant. ``I had a lot of fun. The guys were great. The operation went smooth with the other coaches. It was just a lot of fun. It was a great experience for us as a staff.''

Babich got promoted from linebackers coach after the Bears did not renew former defensive coordinator Ron Rivera's contract. That the Bears let Rivera go was a surprise, considering they went to the playoffs two years in a row and led the NFL last season with 44 takeaways. Within hours, Rivera, who talked with eight teams about their head-coaching vacancies over two years, the San Diego Chargers hired him as linebackers coach.

Then, Babich got the promotion.

It was one of several moves during an offseason that seemed to start with a roar but calmed down afterward for the Bears.

Chicago traded leading rusher Thomas Jones, clearing the way for Cedric Benson. Pro Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs threatened a prolonged holdout after the team slapped him with the franchise tag. Defensive tackle Tank Johnson served two months in jail on firearms charges, then got released by the team after he was pulled over for suspicion of drunk driving.

But after that tumultuous start, the offseason seems like a productive one.

Briggs accepted the one-year, $7.2 million franchise tender offer just before training camp started. The Bears replaced Johnson with Darwin Walker, who had 26 1/2 sacks over the past five years for Philadelphia, making him the fourth-most productive defensive tackle during that span.

With Archuleta and a healthy Mike Brown, who is moving from strong safety to free safety, the Bears' run defense figures to be among the league's best. Chicago had difficulty stopping the run after Brown suffered a season-ending foot injury in October.

Another change is at right defensive end, where Mark Anderson is now starting over Alex Brown after finishing with 12 sacks as a rookie last season.

Despite all those moves, the defense will not look much different than a year ago. Babich is not overhauling the unit, he's just helping maintain it.

``I think he's doing a great job,'' Archuleta said. ``He's a real motivator.''
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Back in system that made him a star, Bears' Archuleta tries to re-establish himself

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. (AP) -Adam Archuleta and Lovie Smith stood side by side after practice, smiling and chatting like friends who hadn't seen each other in a long time.

Well, they are old pals and it has been awhile since Archuleta played for Smith.

It's a reunion that might have happened a year earlier with the Chicago Bears had Dan Snyder not lured Archuleta to the Washington Redskins with a $35 million contract that made him the richest safety in NFL history.

``I really didn't foresee what happened happening there,'' Archuleta said.

What happened was a relationship crashed, a free fall that was a ``complete blindside'' to him. Archuleta fell out of favor as quickly as a disgraced politician in Washington and got traded to Chicago for a sixth-round draft pick in March. Now, he's trying to re-establish himself with the system (cover-2) and the coach (Smith) that helped make him a star with the St. Louis Rams.

``What more can I ask for?'' Archuleta wondered. ``I'm really happy and I'm really excited to be a part of the team.''

A strong safety, he's joining a team with soaring expectations after the Bears reached the Super Bowl last season. He's back with Smith, the Bears' head coach who was his defensive coordinator with the Rams.

And he's in a scheme that will emphasize his strength - stopping the run and pressuring the quarterback - rather than expose his weaknesses in coverage. The Bears won't ask him to cover the top wide receiver. Instead, he'll try to apply pressure, create chaos and control the run. Put simply, he'll be in position to do the things that allowed him to get 15 sacks and 547 tackles during five seasons in St. Louis - unlike last season in Washington.

``Ever since I signed with Washington ... there was a piece of me that said I wanted to play here,'' Archuleta said.

Archuleta was planning to sign with Chicago before Washington stepped in with a seven-year deal that was impossible to resist. It was apparent by the time the first paycheck cleared that this was going to be another example of money not well spent by the Redskins.

They were asking a hard-hitting converted linebacker with three interceptions and four forced fumbles to play the pass. He had to learn new techniques, new footwork. He had to do it all, and it didn't work.

Archuleta lost the starting job in the preseason and only regained it for seven games after Pierson Prioleau hurt a knee. He was vulnerable against long passes and wound up being used only on special teams for most of the second half of the season.

Instead of contending for the playoffs, the Redskins finished 5-11.

``He was made the scapegoat,'' said the Bears' Mike Brown, who is moving from strong safety to free safety. ``When you watch tape and you know the kind of system they were playing and the types of things they put on him, it really wasn't his fault. It's always the new guy they're going to blame. He got paid a whole bunch of money, so he's going to get the brunt of the blame.''

The demotion became a touchy subject for the Redskins. Coach Joe Gibbs and assistant Gregg Williams did not give an explanation for the benching and showed little patience when asked about it last season, offering only vague comments about how Archuleta performed in practice.

``I'm sure they're glad to be rid of me, and I'm glad to be here,'' Archuleta said.

He said last season ``really taught me about balance.'' He learned what he can and can't do on the field, but the biggest lesson was this: ``I'm allergic to negative people.''

Then he smiled.

``I just don't thrive in negative situations,'' Archuleta said. ``That's just not in football. When I'm around a negative person, I can't deal with it. It really shuts me down. Whether that's a friend who's constantly complaining, whether it's a coach who has a negative coaching style, whether it's somebody who's always feeling sorry for themselves - I just can't deal with it.''

The early reviews from the Bears are positive, which is no surprise.

When he came to the Bears in 2004, Smith showed Brown and other safeties video clips of Archuleta.

``When you watch tape of St. Louis, you realize how good a player he is,'' said Brown, a Pro Bowl strong safety in 2005 who sustained a season-ending foot injury last October.

Second-year pro Danieal Manning said Archuleta ``knows everything'' and isn't shy about helping his teammates.

The Bears see a newcomer quickly fitting in, and they wonder why he didn't sign with Chicago a year ago.

``It's natural to think that way,'' Archuleta said. ``What I went through last year is going to prepare me for great things.''
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Backup QB's Bail Out Grossman, Bears On MNF

Yahoo.com - Bad Rex was back at his worst Monday night. Not that the Bears needed any reminders of what happens when Grossman goes awry -- even in the preseason.

After struggling for most of Grossman's 26 plays, the Bears' backups bailed him out and eventually overcame the miscues to beat the Colts 27-24.

"I haven't lost any (confidence)," Grossman said. "I hope the Chicago fans and everyone else hasn't lost any. I'm a pretty optimistic guy. Just because I throw an interception in the preseason doesn't take away from a good camp."
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Briggs Charged With Leaving Scene Of Accident

ESPN - Chicago Bears linebacker Lance Briggs was charged with leaving the scene of an accident after crashing his Lamborghini and leaving it alongside an expressway on the city's North Side, Illinois State Police said Monday.

After meeting with police Monday afternoon, Briggs also was cited for failure to give immediate notice of an accident and improper lane usage, said Master Sgt. Luis Gutierrez.

Briggs was released after posting $100 bond. He is scheduled to appear Oct. 4 in a Cook County court.
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