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Chalk Talk


Chalk Talk: How will altitude affect Bears?

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

How much do you think the altitude will affect the Bears in Denver and what are they doing to prepare for it?
Phil R.
St. Joseph, Missouri

The Bears really aren't doing a whole lot differently to prepare for the altitude in the Mile High City as far as I know. They're encouraging players to hydrate, take care of their bodies and get plenty of rest just like they do during the weeks leading up to every game. In terms of how playing in the high altitude could affect Sunday's contest, you may see Bears players using oxygen masks on the sideline more than usual, more frequent substitutions at positions where players rotate in and out, and more distance on kicks and punts. Bears offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich knows all about high elevation, having coached at the University of Colorado in Boulder from 2006-08, and doesn't seem too concerned. "You've just got to get past the psychology of it," Helfrich said. "It will hit you. You'll run up the stairs and your lungs will burn for a second, [but] it doesn't matter. If we were running a marathon, that would be a different situation."

How do the Bears determine the yard-line where they feel comfortable with Eddy Pineiro attempting a field-goal from?
Paul K.
Barrington, Illinois

There are several factors involved, beginning with how Eddy Pineiro performs in pregame warmups as well as field and weather conditions, the score and the game situation. For instance, there's a greater chance of attempting a long field goal on the final play of the first half than there would be in the middle of the fourth quarter with the game tied where a miss would give the opponent good field position. Special-teams coordinator Chris Tabor confers with Pineiro and then gives coach Matt Nagy a number at both ends of the field. But that yard-line could change. Said Tabor: "Sometimes you have to adjust it at the end of the half, end of the game, those type of deals. But all kinds of factors [are involved]. You don't just say he made this in pregame. If it goes through ugly and it's a bad make, you've got to play with all of that."

Seeing Deon Bush get beat for a long pass down the middle and then for a touchdown against the Packers, I was wondering why he was in the game instead of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.
Frank H.
Schaumburg, Illinois

Defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano and secondary coach Deshea Townsend both told reporters this week that the Bears planned to put Deon Bush into the game at some point—it turned out to be the defense's fourth series—as a reward for how well he performed in training camp and the preseason. Said Pagano: "Deon had a fantastic preseason and a great training camp. He earned that time. So that was the plan." Townsend echoed that thought, saying: "That was just Bush's time to go in the game. He had an opportunity, he deserved it. He played well this preseason. This season is going to be a long season. You don't know who's going to be in the game. Our mindset has to be, 'Next man up,' and when your opportunities come, just go out there and execute. That's what this game is about." Discussing the 46-yard completion from Aaron Rodgers to receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling that you referred to, Pagano said: "[Rodgers] has done it a few times before to a lot of people. That's one play we would love to have back. But we can't turn back the clock. We looked at that play and we understand that if we had done a couple things just a little bit different, [Bush] wouldn't have had that situation. It's a team deal and it doesn't fall on one dude."

With the temperature in Denver expected to be about 90 degrees Sunday, senior writer Larry Mayer ranks the top 10 Bears games since 1991 played with a kickoff temperature of at least 80.

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