Friday, October 3, 2003

Boos have Bears fighting critics at Soldier Field

Vick says he'll try to jog Saturday

The Associated Press

[IMAGE] Jaguars quarterback Byron Leftwich was named the team's starter for Sunday's game against San Diego.
(Associated Press photo)
LAKE FOREST, Ill. - With a wall of glass on the east side of the new Solider Field, the Chicago Bears knew their stadium was going to be disturbingly loud.

They just didn't realize they'd be the team being disturbed.

The first quarter hadn't even ended Monday night when the Bears heard their first boos from fans. And the fans weren't shy about expressing their displeasure throughout Chicago's 38-23 loss to Green Bay, which dropped the Bears to 0-3.

Most of the Bears say they understand the fans' frustration.

"You've got to give them something to cheer about," said quarterback Kordell Stewart, who knows a little something about rocky relationships with fans from his days in Pittsburgh. "They pay their money to come out and watch, and if we're out there stinking up the joint, cut loose. Hey, that's a part of a game."

Bears fans haven't seen a whole lot to their liking lately. Since winning the NFC Central in 2001, the Bears have gone 4-15. They've lost 15 of their last 17 games.

The Bears and their fans were hoping last year's dismal season was a casualty of the team having to be on the road for all 16 games. While Soldier Field was refurbished last year, the Bears played their "home" games in Champaign, 140 miles south of Chicago.

But they're still looking for their first win this year. And not even their open house bash Monday night, complete with fireworks and visits by old-time Bears greats, could energize them.

"I've always maintained the same position, the fans have a right to boo, and we certainly expect it when we don't give them much to cheer about," coach Dick Jauron said. "And the fact is that in the first half of that football game, we didn't give them much to cheer about. ... So we heard the boos."

FALCONS: Michael Vick threw the football lightly Thursday for the second straight day, but the star quarterback says his injured right shin is still too tender for him to practice.

Vick, who hasn't played since breaking his fibula Aug. 16, will try to do some light jogging for the first time Saturday morning.

BRONCOS: Running back Clinton Portis expects to play against Kansas City after testing his bruised chest in contact drills Thursday.

"Really, I don't have any concerns," Portis said. "I feel good and if I didn't, I don't think I'd put myself in this situation."

PANTHERS: Steve Smith lashed out at Carolina's front office Thursday for allegedly calling him a "marginal receiver" while discussing contract options.

Smith, who leads the Panthers in yards receiving (118) and receptions (12) this season, is due to become a restricted free agent at the end of the year.

Carolina general manager Marty Hurney declined to comment about Smith's rant, or whether negotiations are ongoing.

VIKINGS: Daunte Culpepper missed his second straight practice Thursday, increasing the probability that Gus Frerotte will start this weekend against Atlanta.

Coach Mike Tice had said that Frerotte would start against the Falcons (1-3) Sunday if Culpepper couldn't go through a full practice Thursday.

PANTHERS: Carolina right tackle Jordan Gross was fined $5,000 by the NFL Thursday for a hit against the Atlanta Falcons.

Gross, a rookie, was fined for hitting an Atlanta defensive player as the player attempted to get up off the ground.

JAGUARS: Quarterback Byron Leftwich will start Sunday against San Diego, leaving a healthy Mark Brunell on the bench.

JETS: Defensive lineman John Abraham was charged with drunken driving after he drove his sports utility vehicle into a fire hydrant and lightpole, police said.

Abraham pleaded innocent Thursday and was released on his own recognizance. The misdemeanor charge of driving while intoxicated carries a maximum sentenced up to one year in jail.

CHARGERS: San Diego should have their top two receivers back for Sunday's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

David Boston, who served a one-game suspension last week for conduct detrimental to the team, and Tim Dwight, who missed last week's game with a strained knee, each practiced for the second straight day.

DOLPHINS: At least four Miami Dolphins have gotten staph infections, including linebacker Junior Seau and return specialist Charlie Rogers, who were hospitalized because of the ailment.

None of the players is on the injury report, and all are expected to be available for Sunday's game against the New York Giants.

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