ChicagoBears.com senior writer Larry Mayer speaks with coach Lovie Smith about the most pressing issues involving the Bears every Wednesday during the season.
LM: Who impressed you most in last Sunday's win over the Panthers?
LS: "Tim Jennings and Julius Peppers both had a heck of a game. We give guys grades each game, and both of them got an 'A,' which is hard to get. We only have 10 guys who have gotten an 'A' the entire year, so that's an exclusive club. Kellen Davis also earned an 'A' for his play against the Panthers."
LS: "Kellen has caught big passes before, but when you make a special play like that to help lead your team to a win, you have to remember it. But it wasn't just that play. That play of course gets your attention, but it was just his overall play. He blocked well. That was the best performance he's had since he's been here."
LM: Who's an under-the-radar player who impressed you in the win?
LS: "A guy who really played well was Nate Collins. He stepped up. It was the first time he was active. He rushed the passer well and played the run. He was an anchor in there for us. I was really pleased with what he was able to do after not playing an awful lot before then."
LM: What does it say about the character of a team when it's able to win a game after not playing its best like the Bears did against the Panthers?
LS: "It says that you're a good football team because only good football teams can win games when they don't play their best ball for an extended period of time. You also have to have some guys who have been through it because experience teaches you to hang in there. When you're not playing your best, you have to keep fighting because it is a 60-minute game, and that's something we always preach to our players."
LM: What challenges will the Titans present in this Sunday in Tennessee?
LS: "Chris Johnson is one of the best running backs in the league, so you have to look at him. We've played against Matt Hasselbeck a lot of times and he's been one of the best quarterbacks for a long period of time. On the other side of the football, Kamerion Wimbley is a heck of a rusher on the outside and Michael Griffin is also a heck of a player. They have good personnel, and playing a game on the road is always a challenge."