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Bears’ Smith: Seahawks’ Wilson not playing like a rookie

(MCT) — CHICAGO — The Bears did not have a problem handling second-year quarterback Christian Ponder on Sunday and now they prepare for a rookie quarterback in Russell Wilson with the Seahawks coming to Soldier Field.

The fourth-round draft pick from Wisconsin is on a roll after becoming the first rookie in NFL history to post a quarterback rating of 125 or better in three consecutive games. Wilson passed for only 585 total yards in wins over the Vikings and Jets and a loss to the Dolphins, but he threw seven touchdown passes and did not have an interception.

When Seahawks coach Pete Carroll selected Wilson over free-agent addition Matt Flynn at the start of the season it made Flynn, the former Packer, one of the few backup quarterbacks in the NFL to be earning more than Jason Campbell’s $3.5 million. Flynn received $10 million guaranteed in a three-year, $19.5 million contract.

“(Wilson is) not playing like a rookie,” Bears coach Lovie Smith said. “To come in and No. 1, be the starting quarterback when they had another good option in Flynn, that says a lot about what type of football player you are. He’s been steady, he’s done what they asked him to do and he’s mobile in the pocket, makes great decisions and has just been productive for them.”

Like Ponder, Wilson doesn’t have a wide selection of targets in his passing game. Former Viking Sidney Rice, a free-agent bust for the Seahawks a year ago, leads the team in receiving with 37 receptions for 524 yards and six touchdowns. Golden Tate has 30 catches for 390 yards and six touchdowns.

Jay talking: Jay Cutler’s passing numbers were modest (188 yards and one TD) Sunday against the Vikings, but his mere presence lifted a team trying to snap a two-game losing streak.

“I tried to bring a little extra fire to practice and get guys going and keep everyone’s spirits up,” he said Monday during his weekly segment on “The Waddle & Silvy Show” on WMVP. “We’ve got a veteran group. A couple of losses here and there are not really going to shake this team’s self-confidence.”

As for receiving an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty for flipping the ball at a Vikings defender out of bounds, Cutler said: “Frowned upon. ... I’ve got to be smarter than that. If anyone else on offense had done that, I would have yelled at him and said, ‘Hey, can’t happen here.’ I can’t do it again, obviously.”

Health beat: Smith offered little in the way of an update for injured cornerback Charles Tillman (ankle), running back Matt Forte (ankle) and wide receiver Devin Hester (concussion). But Tillman was pretending to be limping after the game when he entered the locker room and isn’t believed to be seriously injured. Early indications were Forte’s injury wasn’t too serious. Whether he plays Sunday remains to be seen.

The time is right: The NFL announced that the Bears’ Week 14 game against the Vikings in Minnesota and Week 15 meeting with the Packers at Soldier Field will remain noon starts.


(Chicago Tribune reporter Fred Mitchell contributed.)

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