Site of Game Not a Concern for Bears

DE Israel Idonije (Jonathan Daniel)

While all signs point to Monday's contest against the rival Vikings in Week 15 being played on the campus of the University of Minnesota at TCF Bank Stadium, the Chicago Bears haven't gotten official word yet.

Given that the Bears have lost seven of their last eight games against the Vikings inside the Metrodome, the proposed switch to the University of Minnesota's outdoor TCF Bank Stadium can only help the visitors.

The Bears have dropped three straight in the Vikings' dome, which has been rendered uninhabitable because of the gaping hole that was ripped in the inflatable roof last week by heavy snow. Work is under way to prepare the Gophers' outdoor site by Monday night, but it still must pass an NFL inspection, and other unnamed sites are being considered.

The Vikings issued a statement Wednesday afternoon that read: "At this time, NFL officials are touring TCF Bank Stadium to ensure its safety for our fans and its ability to meet the primary technical requirements for an NFL game. Ultimately the decision to relocate a game is the league's in consultation with the two teams. The NFL supports the plan to play Monday night's game at TCF Bank Stadium but is currently ensuring viability of this plan."

Bears players had not been told definitively as of Wednesday afternoon where the game would be played, but their focus was on the opponent. The Bears would clinch the NFC North title with a victory coupled with a Green Bay loss at New England.

"There's still some speculation to the location," Bears defensive end Israel Idonije said. "I'm not sure where we're playing yet, but that doesn't matter. Wherever it is, if it's in the parking lot, we'll both be on the same parking lot playing and both teams have to adjust."

The Vikings clearly have the bigger adjustment to the outdoors. They are 1-4 outdoors this season, including a 27-13 loss to the Bears at Soldier Field on Nov. 14. The Bears are 6-4 outside and have won all three of their indoor games, but those were against the Cowboys, Bills and Lions. In the past two games at the Metrodome, the Bears were outscored 70-24.

So they'll gladly take a pass on the controlled climate and not worry about the cold and snow.

"We're not playing conditions or a stadium. We're playing the Vikings," Bears long snapper Patrick Mannelly said. "So, first and foremost, we've got to worry about them, and then we'll go from there."

TCF Bank Stadium does not have an underground heating system like Soldier Field or the Bears' practice field at Halas Hall, so footing on a wet or frozen field could be a concern.

"In that type of situation, you have to keep in mind what the footing is," Bears running back Matt Forte said. "You can't go out there and think that you can run like you're indoors. Sometimes you've got to run a little flat-footed until you see a hole, and then you've got to burst through it. I think by us playing outside, we're a little more used to being in those kind of elements than they are."

The Bears failed miserably at handling adverse conditions in Sunday's 36-7 loss to the Patriots. Forte managed just 25 yards on nine carries, while Chester Taylor's three carries totaled one yard. But they do have the experience.

"It's something we've got to play through," Forte said. "We did it last week. We've just got to do it better this week."


LB Patrick Mannelly
Jonathan Daniel/Getty

NOTES AND QUOTES
Mannelly uses his experience on the golf course to make adjustments on the football field when dealing with severe winds, such as the Bears experienced last Sunday at Soldier Field. The team could be facing similar conditions Monday night against the Vikings.

"I like to get out there early, and I kind of equate it to golf," the 13-year veteran said. "If a guy's hitting a drive and he's got to play the wind to get it in the middle of the fairway, how far left or right are you going to hit it? It's kind of the same thing with the snap, especially on a punt.

"With the winds we had [Sunday], and like the Green Bay game in '07, you have to figure out how far outside of the [punter's] framework you're going to aim it, and then you have to play with it a little bit during pregame to figure that out. It's just getting out there early and just finding your target." ...

According to coaches' review of game film, backup cornerback Corey Graham leads the Bears with 19 special-teams tackles. According to NFL statistics, Graham has 16 tackles, which is the most in the league.

But special teams coordinator Dave Toub said there's more to Graham's game than making tackles.

"He's playing at a Pro Bowl level," Toub said. "It's not only tackling, but his blocking. He gets his block every time, whether it's punt return or kick return. He's been great for us." ...

Midwest winter weather doesn't faze Idonije, who grew up in Canada and played college football at the University of Manitoba.

"I've played in some harsh weather, blizzards where you can't see any lines, anything at all," Idonije said. "But that's football in Winnipeg, Manitoba. I didn't think last Sunday was all that bad." ...

QUOTE TO NOTE
"I don't think losing is ever helpful, but when you have character, you have to find a way to bounce back." – DE Israel Idonije, on the aftereffects of last week's 36-7 loss to the Patriots.


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