Jay Cutler 800The Chicago Bears have been down, but not necessarily out.

Jay Cutler did more than return from injury to quarterback the Bears to an upset win against the Minnesota Vikings Monday night.

He gave his teammates a moving speech.

‘He was just telling us, ‘Nobody’s going to feel sorry for us”

“He was just telling us, ‘Nothing matters, nobody’s going to feel sorry for us that we’re 1-6 and we have so many injuries, that we’ve been close in games. So we’re just going to have to go out and fight and just have perfect execution and just execute to the best of our abilities,'” rookie running back Jordan Howard, who ran for 153 yards against the Vikings, told Alex Marvez and Gil Brandt on Late Hits.

As for his spectacular performance against one of the top defensive fronts in the NFL, Howard gave full credit to his offensive line.

‘The Vikings had to respect our passing game’

“They were just getting great push and opening up so many holes for me,” Howard said. “The tight ends, they were blocking well. The wide receivers, they were blocking pretty well. What happened is they had to respect our passing game. And the offensive coordinator (Dowell Loggains) had a good plan for us.”

Coach John Fox also has done a superb job of keeping the Bears focused despite their struggles.

‘We’ve just been staying strong’

“We’ve been so close in a lot of games we’ve been in that we know we have the talent to compete with anybody, but we just keep coming up short and just having little miscues here and there,” Howard said. “But we’ve just been staying strong, because Coach Fox, earlier this week, showed us a schedule when he was with the Panthers in 2004. And they had started off like 1-7 or something like that and they finished the season up (7-9) and they had a chance to go to the playoffs until the last game of the regular season.”

 

Saints’ Hightower: Doing the ‘uncomfortable’ in practice helps with ball security

It’s all about the running back who has the surest hands. Mark Ingram doesn’t right now. Tim Hightower does.

Therefore, the New Orleans Saints are likely to give Hightower more touches, especially considering he has gone 250-plus without fumbling, which had been a bit of a problem earlier in his career.

‘During the game, you can’t think about it’

And after Ingram coughed up the ball in last Sunday’s victory against Seattle, Hightower ran 26 times for 102 yards. He did have a close call in the game, with the ball coming out while his knee was down, “but that was too close for comfort.”

How does Hightower maintain such good ball security?

“It’s really something that, during the game, you can’t think about it,” he told Alex Marvez and Mark Dominik on Late Hits. “And that’s something that, early on in my career, once it mentally starts to get into your head and you’re starting to think about it, there are so many different things in a football game you’ve got to be prepared for, so when you start thinking about it in a football game, it starts taking away from the other assets that you have.

“It’s really something in practice, the way that you train, you really have to have to make a conscious effort to do different drills. Every single drill that I do, every single time I’m on the football field — before practice, after practice — I’m going to commit to carrying the ball a certain way.

“I’m going to commit to doing football-related activities — whether it’s cone drills, whether it’s hitting the sled — I’m going to do things that are uncomfortable and make it as hard as it can be to hold this football while I’m doing this activity. And just focusing on that and trying to make that part of your routine.”

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