We talked with Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith and quarterback Jay Cutler this morning. Cutler said he’s been cleared to play and will practice this afternoon.
Smith said he’s familiar with the Seahawks from facing them last year, and praised quarterback Matt Hasselbeck from the times the two teams have met in the past.
“For the most part it’s the same personnel, we realize that,” Smith said. “I know they’ve changed at the wide receiver position. Mike Williams is of course now is one of the guys playing good football. We’re familiar with him.
And of course Golden Tate, how can you not be impressed with what he can do on the offensive side of the ball. I know they’re going through a few changes on the offensive line with injuries and things like that.
“On the defensive side, up front you know the guys are going to play hard. We’re familiar with the scheme. Lofa is an excellent football player, as is Curry. I’ve known Trufant for a long time and watched him play, so we’ll have our hands full.”
Listen to part of the conversation with Smith here.
[wpaudio url="http://blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks/files/2010/10/LovieSmith.mp3" text=MP3: Lovie Smith on Hawks"]
Cutler also was impressed by Seattle’s defense.
“Their linebacker crew is very good,” Cutler said. “They’ve got that safety (Earl Thomas), and he’s playing all over the ball and making plays. They’re taking some chances, playing a lot of Cover 1 and blitzing a little more. So they’re a very active defense, and they’re going to attack you and make you beat them.”
Smith praised Chicago defensive end Julius Peppers as an impact player who frees up other players on his team with his overall play.
“He’s just the ultimate pro,” Smith said. “He’s a special football player. Most people judge defensive ends by whether they can rush the passer. He can rush the passer with speed or power. He plays the run just as well. A complete player.”
Asked if Peppers would flop sides against Seattle, Smith joked, “Do you want me to go over the game plan with you? .. I’ll just say he probably won’t play the nose position. And I’m not really sure he couldn’t play safety if you asked him to. He’s just that kind of athlete.”
Cutler also talked about seeing his former quarterbacks coach in Denver in Jeremy Bates on Sunday. Bates turned down a chance to work with Cutler in Chicago as the offensive coordinator for a similar job in Seattle instead. So Ben Bowman of NBC Chicago sees Sunday’s contest a chance for Cutler to stick it to Bates, which brought a chuckle out of the otherwise monotone Cutler.
“No, I’m not playing against Jeremy,” Cutler said. “I don’t play defense and he’s not the defensive coordinator, so I don’t think we’re really going to be crossing paths out there.”
Cutler did have some nice things to say about his former coach.
“He was a good coach,” Cutler said. “High energy. Creative. Kind of everything you want in an offensive coordinator.”