Friday in Hawkville

A recap of the day’s activities:

FOCUS ON

Chris Clemons. The Bears’ defensive end duo of Julius Peppers and Israel Idonije has been getting a lot of attention this week. And for good reason.

Peppers, the Bears’ big free-agent addition this offseason, is “really, really good,” as Seahawks coach Pete Carroll put it. Idonije, meanwhile, had three sacks in the Bears’ win at Carolina last week.

But what about Clemons? Where’s the love for a player who has four sacks – two fewer than Peppers and Idonije combined?

For the Seahawks to have success against the Bears’ offense – or any opponent, for that matter – they must be able to put pressure on quarterback Jay Cutler. In the Bears’ only loss, the New York Giants sacked Cutler nine times and knocked him out of the game with a concussion that also forced him to sit out last week.

Clemson isn’t just the Seahawks’ best pass-rusher, he’s the most relentless. Even when he’s not collecting sacks, Clemons has been forcing the issue by getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

“I think he’s exceeded expectations in his effectiveness,” Carroll said this week of Clemons, who was acquired in a March trade with the Philadelphia Eagles to fill the hybrid “Leo” end spot in Carroll’s defense.

“He’s been a factor. Not just his pretty-good sack numbers at this early stage, but he’s just been a factor chasing the football.”

The Seahawks rank second in the league is rushing defense, allowing an average of 72.8 yards, and Clemons also has been a factor there.

“His energy in the running game has been there and he’s been able to show versatility,” Carroll said.

When an end rushes the passer as well as Clemons does, his contributions in the run game are often overlooked. But he leads all the linemen with 15 tackles – to go with those four sacks and 11 QB hits.

“He’s been a tremendous addition to our football team,” Carroll said. “I’m just really fired up about him being here and he’s having a great time. He’s loving the new role where he gets to be the starter and all that.

“I think he’s embracing it.”

Not to mention opposing quarterbacks.

POSITION WATCH

Offensive line. Carroll is encouraged about this unit because left tackle Russell Okung is another two weeks removed from the high ankle sprain that sidelined the first-round draft choice for 5½ weeks and right tackle Sean Locklear is moving much better on the sore knee that sidelined him the week leading up to the pre-bye game against the Rams in St. Louis.

The expected starting unit for Sunday’s game will be – from left tackle to right – Okung, Ben Hamilton, Chris Spencer, Stacy Andrews and Locklear.

“I’m anxious to see these guys play again and start to build some continuity,” Carroll said. “This is a really important time for us. It will be interesting. We’re going against one of the best rush defenses in the NFL. It will be a really big best. But we’ve got to start somewhere. So let’s start with a great challenge and see where we go from here.”

ON THE FIELD

The players practiced for 85 minutes on a brisk late morning/early afternoon.

Rookie free safety Earl Thomas had a good practice, intercepting two passes.

INJURY REPORT

The official Friday status report, as released by the team:

Questionable

OG Chester Pitts (knee)

DT Brandon Mebane (calf)

UP NEXT

The team left for Chicago this afternoon, and the players will have a walk-thru on Saturday in Chicago.

STAT DU JOUR

The Bears have had the ball at their opponents’ 1-yard line nine times this season, and they have yet to score. “I’m kind of dumbfounded here about it,” offensive coordinator Mike Martz told the Chicago Sun-Times.

YOU DON’T SAY

“We’d like him to not return the ball. The idea is, don’t punt. No punting. Fourth down is a big down for us this week.” – a good-natured Carroll when asked about Bears punt returner Devin Hester, who has returned eight punts for touchdowns in his career


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