Football still on Lovie's mind during bye

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears will practice once more this week before taking some time off during their bye week. Players will scatter and coaches will get a breather from game plans but that doesn't mean they won't be thinking about football.

"Football will always be on my mind," coach Lovie Smith said after practice on Tuesday. "But there are iPads and all kinds of things (to keep updated). We'll take some time off, but you never get far away from football. And when we say take time off, I'm looking forward to watching some high school games this week, some college games this week and of course a full slate of NFL games. Every time you watch a game as a coach or a player you can learn something."

Smith was asked how he watched a game different than the average fan.

"As a football fan I'm just excited about watching it," Smith responded. "From there, just situations that pop up. There will be some strange things that will happen that will help me as a coach. Maybe help me out in that situation if I'm in there."

After Wednesday's drills the Bears won't be back at work until Monday.

Receive or defer?: The Bears have had key drives to open up the second half of the last two games, both of which were close at halftime. Against the Dallas Cowboys they scored an early third-quarter touchdown to extend a 10-7 advantage. On Sunday against Jacksonville, they ate up 9:18 to start the third quarter before taking a 6-3 lead on a Robbie Gould field goal.

Smith explained the strategy of opening the third quarter with the ball, if possible.

"If you talk to (Brian) Urlacher and some of those guys they would say they like to play defense first," he said. "For us, it's simple. At home you're going to generally see us take the ball first. The crowd isn't a factor. On the road the crowd can be a factor so we want our defense to go out there first."

In both cases the Bears were never seriously challenged after scoring to open up the second half. When push comes to shove Smith will take a stronger finish to a quick start.

"It's always about how you finish," Smith said. "I just think it's critical you start that second half off right."

The quote: "It's hard to do. To have two guys, back-to-back, run interceptions back for touchdowns. That's hard. Just the mindset to get the ball in. To see them score and help us win football games." -- Smith, on Charles Tillman and Lance Briggs scoring touchdowns on interceptions in back-to-back games.