Head Coach Lovie Smith

(Opening statement):
‚I’ll hit the injury list first. The injury list looks pretty good. We held two players out of practice today due to sickness — Alex Brown and John St. Clair. Injury-wise, everyone is healthy and ready to go, so that was good to get everyone back out on the football field.

‚Just our team, talking about it a little about, I thought the focus was excellent again today. We know what’s at stake. When you get to the playoffs, of course, everything you do is magnified and you want to make sure that you have everything right. That’s what we’re seeing in practice, guys wanting to make sure that everything is right.

‚Talking about the Seahawks a little bit, we talk a lot about finishing and that’s exactly what they were able to do this past week. Great play by (Jordan) Babineaux there at the end. Last time we played them of course they didn’t have (Shaun) Alexander, we know we’ll have our hands full with them. Also, Jerramy Stevens is playing very well. But a lot of times it’s about what the quarterback does and they have an excellent quarterback that we’ll have to deal with. On the defensive side of the football, Bryce Fisher, a guy that I know very well, played an exceptional game this past week against the Cowboys. And the secondary, I know they have a couple of injuries, but Larry Marmie is one of their secondary coaches. I know him very well, he’s an excellent coach, so it’s not a surprise that they were able to put a secondary together even with all the injuries last week to allow them to win the football game. ‚So that’s where we are. [We had an] excellent Wednesday practice. [We] can’t wait to get started tomorrow.”

(On if the Bears have better focus this year compared to last year in the playoffs):
‚I thought we prepared well last year, but the second time around, normally you handle things a lot better. I just know right now, the focus again has been great, the intensity out at practice. We look like a team that’s been through it before and knows what to expect this weekend.”

(On if the Bears will take a different philosophy with what they ask Rex Grossman to do during the game):
‚You know it’s the same as it’s been. We ask the quarterback to manage the football game. As a whole offensively, philosophywise, run the football, protect the ball and go from there. We’re asking Rex to do those things. We know by getting our running game going, there’ll be opportunities to throw the football and our quarterback has to hit the targets then. That’s what we ask him to do each week.”

(On how Charles Tillman has responded to last season’s performance in the playoffs):
‚Whenever you have a tough, tough game, you have to go back. You analyze what happened. Charles has done that. He had an excellent training camp, he had an excellent off-season. He’s played very well for us. We’ve been a different defense with him off the field. He looked very good out there today. As a cornerback also, you need to have a short memory and he definitely has that. He’ll play well this week.”

(On the continuity at the linebacker position):
‚It helps a lot. Of course, we have two Pro Bowl players, but the three of those guys have played together for a while. They are like coaches on the field. Brian Urlacher knows what defense we’re going to call before we call it most of the time. Just them playing together helps a lot.”

(On how confident he is in Grossman):
‚Very confident. We like Rex being our quarterback. We think he can lead us where we need to go. I can’t wait to see him play this week.” (On how Tank Johnson looked in practice today): ‚Very good. You could ask me about our 53-man squad, I’m going to say the same thing. They all looked good today. They all can’t wait to go.”

Runningback Thomas Jones

(On how he feels physically):
‚ I feel great. We had the bye week. That definitely was needed for our team. It gave some guys a chance to get healthy, get some injuries and things like that cleaned up, so physically I feel really good and I think the rest of the team feels really good right now.”

(On what he can learn from watching film of his brother, Dallas Cowboys RB Julius Jones, playing against the Seahawks last weekend):
‚I think that the Cowboys offensive line did a really good job. My brother ran really hard. He did a lot of north and south running. (The Seahawks) have some really fast linebackers, some fast defensive linemen. But the key is he just ran hard. I think if you run hard good things are going to happen. But either way, when we play (the Seahawks) it’s going to be a totally different football game than (the Cowboys-Seahawks) game was and we just have to show up.”

(On his confidence in Bears QB Rex Grossman):
‚I have a lot of confidence in Rex. We were 13-3 with him as our quarterback. He’s had some up and down games, but I think everyone has up and down games in this league. No one is going to play perfect every week. The postseason is a totally different season. We all know what’s at stake. From the beginning of the season our goal was to win the Super Bowl. We put ourselves in a great position. So, everyone has a lot of confidence in Rex. He’s going to go out there and get the job done.”

(On how the Bears can help Grossman):
‚Everyone out there pretty much encourages each other throughout the game. Everyone is excited about every game. We have a team where guys love to play football. If a guy is making a mistake you’re not going to jump on him. If anything you encourage the guy regardless of who it is and try to get them out of whatever rut they’re in. Like I said, we have a lot of confidence in Rex. He’s got a strong arm. He’s smart. He’s been in the situation before, last year in the playoffs in the second round, and we’re back here again. So he knows what’s at stake and the rest of the team knows what’s at stake.”

(On what it means to him to have a chance to eventually play in the Super Bowl):
‚It’s the chance of a lifetime for me. I started out in a tough situation in Arizona where we didn’t make the playoffs at all. Last year was my first time in the playoffs and it was a great experience. Just to have a second chance is something that I’m going to take full advantage of. It’s definitely an exciting time, especially here in Chicago, playing for the Bears and the way the fans are and the way the city is about our football team. It’s a great opportunity for me. I’m definitely thankful to be in the situation and I’m definitely going to take advantage of it.”

(On the development of the running game this season):
‚We kind of got into a rhythm. Once we started off at the beginning of the season I think a lot of things were out of sync. Plus we had a lot of eight, nine man guys in the box and it’s very hard to run the ball when you have that many guys in the box. Once we started throwing the ball down the field, doing some play-action things, you know, we backed a lot of guys out of there and they had to respect our passing game and that opened up lanes and creases for our backs to run. I think just the fact of us getting into a rhythm and our passing game doing so well early in the season is what helped us move the ball.”

(On if the running game has hit its stride):
‚Definitely, I think we’re kind of hitting our stride right now as far as the running backs are concerned, [along with] the offensive linemen. There’s really not a play that we can call that we can’t execute. We work really hard in practice as a group as far as running backs. We watch a lot of film. We take pride in what we do out there in practice, finishing runs off and pass protections. Our (running backs) coach (Tim Spencer) really has us try to be perfect on our techniques. So we take a lot of pride in what we do as a running back group and I think we’re definitely hitting our stride right now.”

(On how his brother Julius is doing after the Cowboys loss and what he has learned from talking to him):
‚I just actually talked to him only once this week. He’s still a little upset about the (Cowboys-Seahawks) game. But I watched the film and pretty much you [have to] run hard. If you go against any team in the league you should be able to run the ball at some point, especially late in the game when guys get tired and wear down. We’re just looking forward to the opportunity. We’re going to run hard, we’re going to do everything that we need to do, protect the football, as far as running backs, and I think we’ll be in good shape.”

(On how he feels about the competition amongst the running backs):
‚Competition is good no matter what the situation is. I’m a self-motivated guy. I want to go out there and be the best regardless of what the situation is. The fact that we have three good running backs who can make plays just makes that football team better. At the end of the day that’s what really matters is how your football team does. We all have confidence in each other. If I come out of the game I know Cedric (Benson) can go in and make plays. If Adrian Peterson goes in the game I know he can make plays, and that makes a big difference.

(On working together as a running back corps):
‚We all work well together. I’m the oldest guy in the running back group, so I take a lot of pride in what we do. I take responsibility as far as running backs are concerned. I try to lead by example. We’re all really good friends. We have great relationships on the field, in the locker room, in the meeting room. We all work well together. We all have different styles. We have different personalities. And I think putting all of us putting all of those things together helps make us better.”

(On how this season compares to last season for him):
‚This season actually was a little better maybe. I had maybe 100 or 150 yards less. But just the way that we played during the year, this is the first time I’ve been in the NFL where there have been maybe four or five games where I didn’t even play in the fourth quarter because of the score. That’s the whole point, to go out there and play the best that you can to get to the point where you know that you can play in the fourth quarter. That keeps you fresh throughout the season and it makes a statement. I definitely think this was one of my best seasons in the league. I had a lot of fun during the season. We have a great team, a lot of guys who care about each other. We have a lot of fun on the football field. We love to play football. Even a couple games that really didn’t matter as far as playoff implications, we still wanted to go out there and win those football games and I think that says a lot about our football team.”

(On how this year is different compared to last season for the Bears):
‚Last year I think it was new to everyone. It was the first time winning the division. We won the division last year and everybody was excited after the Green Bay game. Once we came into the playoffs it was pretty new. Once we lost to Carolina it was a tough loss for everyone. We had high expectations last year but coming into this year we actually wanted to get back in this position and we actually have home field advantage throughout the playoffs. So we’ve actually done better than we did last year. We really want to win the Super Bowl and that’s what said from the beginning of the year. Every time we break at the end of meetings or practice we say world champs and the coaches have put that in our minds from day one. So we put ourselves in a great position. We understand what’s at stake. It’s kind of like deja vu. We have another opportunity. We’re back in the same game at home, same situation against a team that we played earlier. You know, it’s a great opportunity for us to redeem ourselves.”

(On the Bears-Packers game and its effects):
‚We lost the Packers game. We didn’t play well. That didn’t really sit well with everyone, especially going into an off-week. That didn’t really sit well with everyone, especially going into an off-week because you had to have that feeling in your stomach the whole time. We definitely want to come out and play well the whole game, we want to come out and win the football game. Any time you lose a game the way we lost the Packer game it doesn’t feel good and you want to erase that feeling as soon as possible so you know that game’s coming up this weekend.”

(On how the playoffs are different this season compared to last season):
‚Last year it was new. I think it was new. I think we had a lot of guys who hadn’t been in the playoffs before, including myself. We know what it’s about now. We’re excited about the situation but at the same time we know what we have to do and that’s play four good quarters of football, stay focused the whole game and do the little things right. We don’t have to make the great plays. We just have to make the plays when they’re there and I think everybody on the team understands that.”

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