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Bears’ season may ride on Smith’s QB choice

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McClatchy-Tribune
November 14, 2007
— Typically on Wednesdays, the Bears’ starting quarterback addresses the media during a noon news conference at Halas Hall. As of Tuesday evening, a team official said the status of that had yet to be determined.

The Bears begin preparation for the Seahawks on Sunday with a good idea of which quarterback will line up behind center but with no intention as an organization of revealing that information earlier than necessary.


One Bears player, during a community visit Tuesday, said Rex Grossman would start and that coach Lovie Smith had no choice largely because of the condition of Brian Griese’s shoulder. But Grossman hadn’t been informed of a decision either way, and Griese’s left shoulder sprain doesn’t appear to be severe.


Grossman certainly is expected to start if Griese doesn’t get medical clearance.


For Griese, it’s a matter of playing with pain, something he has demonstrated he can do in the past.


While a member of the Broncos in 2000, he had three separate right-shoulder injuries, twice hurting his shoulder in games against the Raiders. He suffered a tear in a September game at Oakland that season and missed one game. Griese returned to play five full games before suffering a separated shoulder in a November home contest against the Raiders, all but ending his season.


Asked what he wanted for Christmas that year, Griese told the media “I’ll take a new right shoulder, if you have one.”


Griese’s latest injury is to his non-throwing shoulder. It happened when Raiders middle linebacker Kirk Morrison blasted up the middle untouched and forced Griese to the ground Sunday. The Raiders had three players blitzing on that second-quarter play.


“What happened? I’m not sure,” tackle Fred Miller said. “I just looked back and I saw he was on the ground hurt. I have to look at film to see exactly what went on.”


Running back Cedric Benson explained the play from his vantage point.


“I think they brought the middle linebacker, the strong-side linebacker, and the weak-side linebacker, and I stepped toward the strong-side linebacker,” Benson said. “If I would have stepped toward the middle, the strong would have came. It was a great play by them.


“You never want to see one of your guys go down, but that’s football.”


Griese didn’t have to have an MRI of his shoulder, and it’s not uncommon for a quarterback to play through a shoulder sprain or bruise. Giants quarterback Eli Manning sprained his right shoulder against the Cowboys earlier this season and didn’t miss a start.


Former Bears quarterback Jim Miller talked during the Sunday postgame show on Comcast SportsNet of how he played through a separated (throwing) shoulder during his college days at Michigan State. Miller reiterated his thoughts on shoulder injuries during a phone conversation Tuesday.


“You can do it. It’s all about your tolerance for pain,” Miller said. “With the way it looked, the way Brian landed, it didn’t look that bad.”


Griese hasn’t made any public comments since the injury, but he apparently told offensive coordinator Ron Turner he would be fine. If Griese is cleared, it will make for an interesting decision. Both quarterbacks have done some good, with Griese engineering a dramatic drive against the Eagles and Grossman coming through with the heroics Sunday. But both have played poorly as well. Grossman’s three interceptions in Week 3 against Dallas sent him to the bench. Griese accumulated seven interceptions in two games against the Lions this season.


Miller offered this take on the quarterback controversy: “I honestly think they might turn to Rex. He does offer more big-play potential. Maybe the time off was good for him. And he’s eager to prove himself.”



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