‘Different this time around’ with Bears for newly re-signed QB Josh McCown
BY MARK POTASH firstname.lastname@example.org
#15, Josh McCown, of the Chicago Bears runs against the Seattle Seahawks, during their game at Soldier Field in Chicago, IL on Sunday December 18, 2011 | Matt Marton~Sun-Times Media
Josh McCown is as ready as he can be.
The veteran quarterback was coaching high school football outside of Charlotte, N.C., when the Bears called on him to back up Jason Campbell in case Jay Cutler is unable to start against the San Francisco 49ers on Monday night in San Francisco. He hasn’t played since he was cut after starting the Bears’ final preseason game against the Cleveland Browns.
But it’s a little better situation than last season, when the Bears also signed McCown ‘‘off the street’’ in November. He started the final two games — throwing a combined two touchdowns and three interceptions in a 35-21 loss to the Packers at Lambeau Field (76.8 passer rating) and a 17-13 victory over the Minnesota Vikings at the Metrodome (75.4).
‘‘It’s different this time around just because I was in camp with these guys,’’ said McCown, who was 29-for-46 for 245 yards, two touchdowns, one interception and an 82.3 rating in the preseason. ‘‘I know the guys a little bit better. But I learned that you need to stay ready. You never know what’s going to happen.’’
McCown said he had been throwing every day while he was coaching the high school team, but he will have to adjust quickly to the speed of the NFL.
‘‘I’ve been coaching high school ball,’’ McCown said. ‘‘So I sit down and start watching tape [of the 49ers]. I keep looking down at the clicker, like, ‘Is this thing on fast forward?’ Because the speed is so much faster than high-school kids. That’s the thing, you’ve got to get your mind back into this speed at this level.’’
Kicking the tires
The Bears had four punters in for a workout Wednesday morning. But coach Lovie Smith said it was not a sign of dissatisfaction with Adam Podlesh, who is 27th in the NFL in gross punting average (41.7 yards per kick) and 21st in net average (38.4).
Podlesh, who was sixth in net average last season with a franchise-record 40.4 yards per punt, suffered a hip-flexor injury in the preseason but has not missed a game. Smith said Podlesh is healthy. Podlesh averaged 38.8 yards on five punts against the Houston Texans, with no return yards.
‘‘Podlesh has played well for us throughout,’’ Smith said. ‘‘None of us played as well as we needed to [against the Texans].
Old home week
It could get interesting when special-teams standout Blake Costanzo, who rarely goes a game without mixing it up with somebody on the other team, faces his former 49ers teammates Monday night. Costanzo, who leads the Bears with 10 special-teams tackles, was second on the 49ers last year with 17.
‘‘They’re friends until you step between the lines and then they’re football players,’’ Costanzo said. ‘‘I’m excited to go back there and see guys I’ve played with. That’s my favorite part of playing football — the guys in the locker room and forming relationships, so it’s going to be fun to go back there.’’