Opening Comments:ML: "As I've said, the Bears are similar in style to the teams we play in our division. They're physical up front, and they would like to run the football in their style of running game. They have very good speed at wide receiver and the other skill positions. And they're all good receivers. They run well after the catch. Defensively, they're an explosive front seven group with pass rushers and guys who get off the football. With Tommie Harris and (Anthony) Adams, they have two fine tackles. At end, (Adewale) Ogunleye is a fine, fine player, and Alex Brown also.
"So, it's an explosive group. They're down a guy or two -- I don't know if Hunter (Hillenmeyer) will play at linebacker this week -- but the other guys have stepped right in and played, and played well for them. (Lance) Briggs has played well for them. That's kind of where they are defensively. Obviously in their return game, they're very, very explosive. (Johnny) Knox is leading the league in kickoff returns. And we know the explosiveness of (Devin) Hester as a punt returner, and also Danieal Manning. So those guys are all good returners."
Q: Is their defense any different without Brian Urlacher?ML: "No, they haven't changed what they do. Brian got hurt awhile back, so they've just adjusted and moved forward."
Q: You've given up a lot of yards in the passing game. Are guys getting beat physically, or is the problem mostly missed assignments?ML: "When you give up plays, it's both. We've got to do a better job. We've got to be on top of routes, the right leverages and so forth, the right spots, and understand whether it be man-to-man or zones or man within the zones, etc. So we've got to do a better job."
Q: It's mostly the same guys as last year. Is that frustrating?ML: "No. Every week you go out there in the NFL, it's going to be a new week, a new challenge. Just because you have guys back ... coverages are going to unfold, plays are going to unfold and guys are going to have to execute and be in the right spots. Just having guys is not worth anything. You have to go out and play. That's what this is all about. We have guys. We need to play these games on Sunday. Are we just going to line up and play on paper? That's why we get to go do these things."
Q: Is Jonathan Fanene your guy at DE now, to replace Antwan Odom?ML: "Yeah, Jon will start at end for us."
Q: And Michael Johnson rotating in?ML: "We'll keep the same thing we've been doing. We won't change. It won't change one bit."
Q: How much has Jonathan matured and improved since he's been here?ML: "Well, I think I've covered this a few times. He continues to really understand more and more playing football, playing defensive end and the mental part of it as well as the physical part."
Q: How has Robert Geathers been playing this year? Can he pick up the sacks you lost when Odom went down?ML: "Well, he's been doing a nice job for us. But when you rush from the (defensive) left side, the quarterback sees you coming most of the time. Not many guys can get many sacks off the right side (of the offense), as a defensive end. Some do, and some of the best that have ever done it are (Michael) Strahan, Bruce Smith most of his career, Kevin Greene. But for the most part, most of your big sack guys are off the right edge (of the defense)."
Q: Will Frostee Rucker have a chance to play this week?ML: "We'll see. I'll make that determination as we go through the week."
Q: When you guys got Cedric Benson, obviously there had been a lot written about him:ML: "We've probably rehashed Ced (Cedric Benson) enough, haven't we? He's our player now. He came in here last year and worked out for us, and we chose him out of the lot, and we're happy, and he had a good year with us last year, we were able to re-sign him, and he's kind of picked up where he left off."
Q: What did you think of his workout?ML: (Laughs) "I think I said this a million times last year. I thought he worked his tail off. Very impressive."
Q: One thing about him, he always runs 110 miles per hour: ML: "Ced is a very, very good worker. He's been a very good worker for us in everything we do. Whatever he's asked to do, he does it full-speed, all the time."
Q: Do you talk to him about playing against his old club and the emotions of it?ML: "I don't need to deal with that right now. I think he's a mature guy. He's known the schedule since it came out. The most important thing is us winning the football game. Those guys (Bears) gave him a great endorsement. That's why he's here. He might not be here unless they gave him the endorsement they gave him. So I don't think he has any animosity that way. They made a decision. As he would tell you, he made some poor decisions, they made their decision to move forward, and now he's here."
Q: Along those lines, how has Tank Johnson fit in? Has he filled the role you envisioned for him?ML: "He's really done a good job. He left the Bears and spent two years in Dallas. I think he's enjoyed it here. He told me it's been good for his family. He's had his family with him, which has been great. We just have to get him 100 percent healthy. He'll be healthier this week than he was last, and he'll keep getting better."
Q: Orien Harris seems like almost a perfect fit for you guys, to have a guy who knows your system be available: ML: "Well, he obviously was with us until right after the draft, when we made the trade (sending Harris to St. Louis for Brian Leonard). He kind of has a feel for what we do, was with us all last season and, you know. We looked at him a couple weeks ago. Just felt like that was the best fit now, to add the guy at this time."
Q: Is there something to be said for familiarity with a player, and his familiarity with you?ML: "Well, there is something to be said with familiarity with a guy's work ethic and how he chases the football and those things, and how he studies and prepares. But sometimes you have to find another guy. In this case, we felt like he was the best fit."
Q: You've seen Josh Cribbs in Cleveland returning kicks. Is Devin Hester as dangerous?ML: "Oh, I think Devin Hester is probably a little better broken-field runner than him. I think he is excellent with the ball in his hands. He's proving that now as a wide receiver. Josh Cribbs is a great, explosive guy, and maybe Devin is just a little bit better jittery-cutter kind of guy. But they are both obviously very good."
Q: Since the Cleveland game, has Kevin Huber done a better job with placement of his punts so the coverage team can get down there?ML: "Yeah. I think we had one punt last week that wasn't quite where we wanted it. I think all in all, he continues to keep handling the situation very, very well. I think he'll do nothing but continue to get better. It's funny. When I look out there before the game, you see these guys like Matt (Turk) last week and these guys who have been in the NFL for all these double-digit years, and then there's our young guy. At some point, he's going to look like those guys. He's going to keep maturing and growing physically and continuing to get stronger and be able to have the same kind of skills he has and be an even stronger specialist. It will be good to see him mature down the road."