Foe familiarity helps with quick turnaround

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears expressed mixed sentiments about the four-day turnaround coming off Sunday’s win over the Indianapolis Colts leading into a Thursday night matchup with the Green Bay Packers, but the universal positive seen in the situation is the familiarity of the opponent.

“Yes (the familiarity) does (help),” Bears coach Lovie Smith said. “I’m sure (the Packers would) say the same thing. I don’t know if anybody has an advantage, but we do know -- I'm talking both teams -- know each other well. We’ve done some planning against them in the past, so we should be good to go.”

Coming off a 41-21 victory over the Colts at Soldier Field, the Bears face NFC North rival Green Bay -- coming off a home loss to the San Francisco 49ers -- at Lambeau Field. Preparation in terms of X’s and O’s isn’t the Bears’ most daunting challenge, they say.

It’s recovering physically because typically, the staff gives the players more than 48 hours off after a game during a typical work week. With the short turnaround, the Bears return Tuesday to the practice field and on Monday pulled what defensive tackle Henry Melton called “a double day” with film prep.

“Normally, we play on a Sunday and we don’t actually go back out there (onto the practice field) until Wednesday,” Smith said. “But tomorrow we’ll be on the practice field. We won’t do a lot of hitting this week.”

Cornerback Tim Jennings considers the short week helpful because the Bears won’t change much schematically, but acknowledge the challenge posed physically by a four-day turnaround between games.

“We like a short week, really, because we don’t really change a whole lot. We just focus on some of the things that we have to do -- just clean up on some technique, errors. It’s not a whole lot,” he said. “We just have to stay healthy, get our bodies back right and I think the coaches have a good schedule and game plan to give us the benefit to go out there and have a good game. We’re going to have our meetings, and while we’re here at work, we’re going to take care of our bodies. We’re still going to try to lift weights and get the weightlifting in. But you understand we’ve got to get in the cold tub, we’ve got to get in the hot tub, get treatment when you need to get treatment. We’ve got to understand that the game is going to come fast.”

Jennings and Melton watched Green Bay’s 30-22 loss to the 49ers on Sunday, and Melton said San Francisco’s success gives the Bears the idea “we have a chance” in a difficult road environment with a short turnaround.

Smith said the team decided against getting a jumpstart in preparation for the Packers, and wanted to wait to see their meeting with the 49ers before devising the game plan.

“We wanted to see this last game because this is a new year and all of that,” Smith said. “They have the same coordinators in place; have the same systems in place. So we had an idea of what they would do. Especially with division opponents, everything a team does, you should know.”