Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
Chicago safety Mike Brown (calf) returned to practice Thursday and delivered a pretty blunt assessment of the Bears' defense to local reporters.
Brown termed it "very mediocre" and referred to the defense as the Bears' "weak link."
"It's time for the defense to step up, man," Brown said, according to the team's Web site. "We're tired of being the weak link. We're used to being the strong link, and right now we're definitely the weak link on this team. For us to be successful as far as getting to the playoffs and being successful in the playoffs, it's up to the defense. So we're hoping and preparing to play great defense."
The Bears enter Sunday's game against Tennessee ranked 18th in the NFL, giving up 329.5 yards per game. That ranking puts them just below the league's midpoint, but most Bears fans would agree there have been stretches of totally unacceptable play. (Giving up 41 points to Minnesota on Oct. 19 and 23 points -- in the second quarter -- last week against Detroit come to mind.)
Brown spoke nothing but the truth in the quotes I saw. But it's not every day that you see NFL players -- even established, well-respected and well-spoken starters like Brown -- use such edgy words. Here's one more quote for good measure:
"We've been inconsistent," Brown said. "We've played well at times and haven't at other times. No one can put their finger on it. Trust us, if we knew what the problem was, we would have fixed it a long time ago. All I can tell you is no one on that side of the ball is satisfied. We're very mediocre and that's something that we're not satisfied with."