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posted: 9/22/2012 8:48 PM

Rushing spotlight on Bush today

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  • Steve Lundy/slundy@dailyherald.com  Chicago Bears running back Michael Bush finds an opening during the Bears season opener against the Indianapolis Colts Sunday at Soldier Field in Chicago. The Bears won 41-21

      Steve Lundy/slundy@dailyherald.com Chicago Bears running back Michael Bush finds an opening during the Bears season opener against the Indianapolis Colts Sunday at Soldier Field in Chicago. The Bears won 41-21

  • Michael Bush is the featured running back for the Bears today since Matt Forte is sidelined with an injury.

      Michael Bush is the featured running back for the Bears today since Matt Forte is sidelined with an injury.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

 
 

With Matt Forte (ankle) out, Michael Bush will be the focus today of a ground game that's off to a mediocre start.

The Bears rank 20th in average gain and are tied for 18th in yards.

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Bush has 96 yards on 26 carries for a 3.7-yard average, while Forte has averaged 4.7 yards on 23 carries (111 yards).

In his four previous seasons with the Raiders, mostly sharing time with Darren McFadden, Bush rushed for 2,642 yards and a 4.2-yard average.

"It helps for sure when he has been in that role out in Oakland," said Bears coach Lovie Smith. "That's why we have so much comfort, knowing that he's been in there and what he can do. Mike's a good player. We said when we brought him in we were bringing in a starting tailback that we added to the mix. For us, it's next guy up, however long it is.

"Hopefully Matt won't be out long, but we feel comfortable with Mike while he's gone."

Forte is second on the team with 7 catches and has more than 50 receptions in each of his four previous seasons.

Bush has yet to catch a pass this season, but he had 37 last season.

"Any time we don't have Matt it kind of hurts us a little bit," quarterback Jay Cutler said. "But the addition of Michael Bush is great. He's not Matt, but he's going to come in and give us a great running attack. He's really smart in the pass protection, and he catches the ball terrific out of the backfield. We're not going to miss much by putting him in."

Little big man:

Tim Jennings' seventh NFL season is shaping up as his best ever.

He's already picked off a single-season, career-best 3 passes -- and he should get plenty of opportunities today against Rams quarterback Sam Bradford, who has the NFL's third-highest passer rating (112.4) and wide receiver Danny Amendola, who leads the league with 20 receptions.

"Unbelievable," linebacker Brian Urlacher said of Jennings' first two games. "He's going to get the football, and the thing about him is, he tackles. People don't give him enough credit -- maybe they do now after watching him last week -- but he'll put his head in there. He's not a big guy, but he will definitely bring you down."

The 5-foot-8, 185-pound Jennings is sixth on the team with 9 tackles.

Letting 'em play:

One of the complaints with the replacement officials is that they have allowed too much extracurricular activity at the end of plays -- an area of the game where Rams cornerback Cortland Finnegan excels.

The former Pro Bowler thinks he benefits from any increase in after-the-whistle shenanigans, but Bears wide receivers coach Darryl Drake doesn't want to discuss it.

"I have no idea what goes on with the replacement officials," Drake said. "I don't know if that helps or hurts or anything. I just know that he plays hard, he's a competitor and we have to go out and play."

Quote to note:

After more than 30 years in the NFL as a player and coach, offensive coordinator Mike Tice knows how quickly popularity levels can change.

"The quickest, fastest increment of time in the history of the universe, there are two of them," Tice said, "the time it takes a New York cab driver to beep his horn when the light turns green and the time it takes to go from the penthouse to the outhouse in the NFL."

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