Bears coach Lovie Smith stays committed to the run

Updated 9/30/2012 7:43 PM

The Bears are 25th in average gain per rush but a much more respectable 13th in rushing yards -- the statistic coach Lovie Smith is focusing on.

"Running game-wise, last week we had 34 rushes," Smith pointed out. "That's a good day."


Not really. The 34 rushes produced just 103 yards for a 3.0-yard average, and the longest run was Jay Cutler's 21-yard scramble. But it's the thought that counts.

"It's a commitment to the run as much as anything," Smith said. "Some days, your yards per carry won't be up there, but if you stay committed to the run, it can do some other things for you. Yeah, we need to improve in our running game just like a lot of other areas on our football team."

The potential return of Matt Forte (ankle) Monday night would be huge, considering he's averaging 4.8 yards per carry and everyone else is averaging 3.0. He was limited at Saturday's practice.

"He's making progress," Smith said. "But we're not there yet to say he's for sure playing."

The new normal:

With four night games in their next seven, starting tonight, it'll be almost two months before the Bears can get on a normal, every-Sunday schedule.

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Starting with tonight's game, the Bears go Monday night, Sunday afternoon, bye, Monday night, back-to-back noon Sundays, Sunday night, and finally Monday night -- Nov. 19 in San Francisco.

Their last six games are all scheduled for Sunday afternoon, including five noon starts, which lends itself to a consistent schedule.

"In an ideal world, that's how you would do it," coach Lovie Smith said. "But we want to play in prime time. To me this is a normal week for a Monday night game for us. We have routines that we go through, that we've gone through for many years based on a Thursday night or a Monday night so it's not that big of an issue for us.

"This week, just to have that extra day, is always good to rest up. We'll be able to get another practice in and we'll need all of that."

Getting better:

After playing just half of the season opener three weeks after arthroscopic knee surgery, Brian Urlacher has 19 tackles in the past two games while playing every snap.

"I haven't had any pain," Urlacher said. "The more I play, the better I'll get, the more in shape I'll get. Preseason is over for me, that's the way I look at it. I feel like I'm finally in a little bit better game shape and running a little better."


Urlacher actually didn't play at all in the preseason and practiced only the first week of training camp.

Injury report:

In addition to Matt Forte, wide receiver Earl Bennett (hand) was limited in Saturday's practice and is questionable for Monday night. Rookie fullback-tight end Evan Rodriguez (knee) is out.

For the Cowboys, three starters, center Phil Costa (back), defensive end Kenyon Coleman (knee) and nose tackle Jay Ratliff (ankle) are out. Punter Chris Jones (left knee) is doubtful. Linebacker Anthony Spencer (shoulder) is questionable.


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