Joniak’s Journal: Ratliff Ready For Bears Debut
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By Jeff Joniak
Jeremiah Ratliff has turned the page on his football career, and he likes what he sees in Chicago. Four times a Pro Bowl defensive tackle in Dallas, the nine-year vet is on track for snaps Sunday in Dallas. His experience, seriousness, and experience has played well in the Bears defensive meeting room and in the locker room in general. A former seventh draft pick, Ratliff has worked hard to turn himself into a quality player. His road turned when he tore the tendons attaching his pelvis to his leg and his abdomen to his pelvis. The groin injury occurred last Nov. 18. Last December, he had sports-hernia surgery. The Cowboys released him in October of this year, and the Bears signed him on Nov. 4. At this best, Ratliff handles double team blocks, opening up lanes for the front seven. However, he’s also proven to be disruptive in the pocket, collecting 27 career sacks. Ratliff says he feels like himself again. That is the best news of all. On his personal website, the words “the fire still burns” pop up on the page. There is an expectation Ratliff is more than capable of bringing some fire to the front four.
Aaron Kromer doesn’t pull punches. When asked if he is concerned that his rookie right guard Kyle Long lost his temper in St. Louis touching off a skirmish, Kromer said it concerns him that Long snaps ever. “You got to correct it,” said Kromer. “You can’t have a guy get a fifteen-yard penalty because he takes the law into his own hands.” Kromer said Long is working very hard to fix that so it doesn’t happen again. Long was very apologetic on the sideline after the incident, knowing he was wrong.
There were several questions asked of Kromer and head coach Marc Trestman about the “rookie” wall. It’s an annual question and concern for players heading into what would be the end of their college seasons getting ready for the bowl season. A guy like Kyle Long started only five games at Oregon last season, so he’s played the most football he’s played in a while. Kromer said both Long and fellow rookie Jordan Mills have young bodies, and they are battling through and both are continuing to improve every week. Kromer said Long is a little further behind in run blocking, and that Long knows it. The more run reps Long gets, the quicker it will help him.
4th and Short
Matt Forte is important in the Bears’ quest to quiet Adrian Peterson. “It’s important that I’m on the field, so he’s off the field,” said Forte. “It’s difficult to handle a guy like that on the field. If we can keep the ball, and time of possession, that’s better for us.” Interestingly, the Vikings have the second-lowest time of possession average in the NFL at 27:02. With a great back, you might think Minnesota runs it more, but the team doesn’t. The Vikings are 16th running it 42 percent of the time, which means they drop to throw 58 percent of the time. However, Peterson has the most carries in the league, with 226. The problem is the Vikings have had the lead for only 55 of Peterson’s carries, so the ball is in the air more playing catch up. Peterson is playing his 50th career game at home Sunday. He’s great everywhere, but at home on that indoor surface he’s averaging 5.2 yards a carry, with 48 touchdowns and with 150 of his runs going for 10 yards or more.