I’m live at Soldier Field for Sunday’s Seahawks-Bears game. The journalists around me are doing radio interviews or getting a head start on their post-game stories. I’ve been keeping close tabs on pre-game warmups. The host Bears finished getting loose well before the Seahawks. With less than an hour to go before kickoff, the only Bear left on the field is kicker Robbie Gould. Here are some observations:
1. Gould has been nailing 45-plus yard field goals with ease. The wind does not appear to be a factor, and according to the Bears’ latest press release the gusts were only 7 m.p.h. as of 11:25 a.m. ET. It’s cloudy up above, and 22 degrees on the field.
2. Bears slot receiver Earl Bennett was practicing quick curl patterns on the sideline, and appeared to be moving at full speed. Though Bennett was not listed on the divisional round injury report, he was hobbled by an ankle sprain late in the season. Bennett could be a key to Sunday’s game because he’s a chain-mover on third downs.
3. Seahawks placekicker Olindo Mare practiced chip shots in warmups. (See pic.) Mare, who’s been terrific the past three seasons, was known for missing easy ones but hitting the hard ones before his Seattle days. He did miss multiple practice field goals from longer distances Sunday morning.
4. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll was very active in warmups, as expected. He was launching footballs back and forth with assistant coaches and players. An exuberant fellow.
5. Bears punter Brad Maynard was practicing his directional punting. (See pic.) Seahawks return specialist Leon Washington is among the best in the league, so the Bears may want to play keep away from the Pro Bowler.
6. Meanwhile, Seahawks punter Jon Ryan was practicing booming punts and sending them some 70 yards downfield. Carroll is on record as saying he will kick to Devin Hester.
7. Philadelphia Daily News reporter Les Bowen, to my left, just got done interviewing Eagles fullback Leonard Weaver. Weaver blew out his knee in the 2010 season opener, but wants resume his career.
8. There’s a lot of talk about other sports going on in the press box, particularly the NBA.
9. The press box seating is shoulder to shoulder. It may be below freezing on the field, but it’s about 70 degrees up here.