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Are Bears concerned about Peppers?

Posted Sep 17, 2013

Larry discusses if the Bears are worried about Julius Peppers, the Eric Weems touchback against the Vikings and how the Bears have fared in the past when starting 2-0.

Wondering about a player, a past game or another issue involving the Bears? Senior writer Larry Mayer answers a variety of email questions from fans on ChicagoBears.com.

Julius Peppers didn't make much of an impact for the second straight game Sunday against the Vikings. How concerned are the Bears that he may have lost a step?

Michael S.
Birmingham, Alabama

Bears coach Marc Trestman revealed Monday that Julius Peppers was sick Sunday. The defensive end was sent home last Thursday with flu-like symptoms including a fever and was feeling even worse Sunday. Said Trestman: "He was not healthy [Sunday], probably sicker [Sunday] than he was the previous two days. He wouldn't say it, but in his defense I don't know that he had the energy to play as hard as he possibly could play. I thought he was involved, he ran some plays down, but overall in his defense I think that he wasn't getting better at the time. He was still not ascending, and he didn't look well to me [Monday] morning when I saw him in the meeting." So, Michael, I guess the short answer is that the Bears aren't concerned about Peppers. Let's see how he performs when he's feeling better, hopefully beginning this week against the Steelers.

Can you further explain the Eric Weems touchback play against the Vikings?

Mike F.
Ashville, Pennsylvania

Eric Weems wisely took advantage of an obscure rule that few people seem to know. That includes Fox announcer Thom Brennaman, who described the play as "a near disaster" for the Bears. Here's the deal: After the kicking team touches a punt, the receiving team cannot lose possession regarding of what transpires. I'm guessing the rule was instituted to prevent the kicking team from trying to bat the ball off a member of the receiving team to create a turnover. Anyway, Weems knew that there was no risk in going after the ball after the Vikings touched it and the result would either be a touchback if he knocked it into the end zone or a long return. Bears special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis showed me a play on tape when he was with the Cowboys in 2010 where a Lions player batted the ball back into the field of play on a punt and Bryan McCann returned it 97 yards for a touchdown. Kudos, by the way, to Fox analyst Tony Siragusa, who knew the rule. Here's a link to a video of McCann's return.

How many times have the Bears made the playoffs when they've started out 2-0?

Ryan G.
Helena, Montana

Since the NFL/AFL merger in 1970, the Bears have started 2-0 17 times. In the previous 16 instances, they've won eight division titles, earned two wildcard berths and failed to make the playoffs six times. Mike Ditka's teams started 2-0 eight times in his 11 seasons as coach. Since his departure, the Bears have opened 2-0 just four times in 21 seasons. They stumbled to a 4-12 mark under Dick Jauron in 2002 and won two division crowns under Lovie Smith, finishing 13-3 in 2006 and 11-5 in 2010

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