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posted: 9/21/2012 8:52 PM

Can Melton continue sack attack?

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  • First-year Rams coach Jeff Fisher holds the Bears' record with 58 punt returns in a season set in 1984.

    First-year Rams coach Jeff Fisher holds the Bears' record with 58 punt returns in a season set in 1984.
    Associated Press


Defensive tackle Henry Melton is off to an impressive start, leading the team with 3 sacks and the linemen with 5 tackles, but defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli isn't touting him for the Pro Bowl yet.

Melton got off to a fast start last season, his first as a starter, but struggled to maintain the same level of productivity through 16 games.

"It's two in a row. That's all I can say," Marinelli said. "I don't look past that. So we just get ready to roll again."

In his fourth season, Melton is still just 25, but he's better equipped now to handle the grind of a long season.

"They learn that, especially inside," Marinelli said. "All I can tell you is it's like a giant closet. There's no air in there. You have to believe in your skills and fundamentals. You just have got to come off the ball, that's the No. 1 thing, and once that starts taking place, then things will happen. You just can't get discouraged."

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Former Northwestern Wildcats cornerback Sherrick McManis has made an immediate impact on special teams since being acquired in an Aug. 31 trade with the Texans for fullback Tyler Clutts.

McManis leads the team with 4 special-teams tackles and has filled the void left by Pro Bowl special teams coverage standout Corey Graham -- who signed with the Ravens in the off-season.

"He's really a good pickup for us," said Bears special teams coordinator Dave Toub. "We really like him. He plays really hard; he's smart. He's filling a role for us. He's taken three of Corey's (four) spots right now."

The only former Graham role that McManis hasn't yet assumed is on kickoff return, and that's expected to happen soon.

Sweet memories:

Rams coach Jeff Fisher was with the Bears for five years as a cornerback (1981-85), although his final season was spent on injured reserve.

Fisher still holds the franchise record with 58 punt returns in a single season (1984).

No Bear other than Devin Hester has more punt-return yards in a single season than the 509 Fisher had in 1981, when he averaged 11.8 yards per attempt. But that's not what he remembers most from his playing days.

"The highlight of my career was being on that sideline and watching Walter Payton carry the football," Fisher said.

"Just to be able to be a teammate of his; all of things that were included in those five years were a lasting memory, and I get excited when young running backs or players want to know about him."

Injury report:

Running back Matt Forte (sprained ankle) did not practice Friday and is out for Sunday. Defensive end Julius Peppers (foot) practiced but was listed as "probable."

Linebacker Brian Urlacher (knee) was back on the field and removed from the injury report.

For the Rams, starting offensive left tackle Roger Saffold (knee) is out and defensive tackle Michael Brockers (ankle) is doubtful. Starting running back Steven Jackson (groin) is questionable, as is fullback Brit Miller (thigh) and offensive tackle Wayne Hunter (ankle).

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