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D.J. Moore tops Jay Cutler, Earl Bennett in Vandyland

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Updated: December 2, 2012 2:15PM



Jay Cutler and Earl Bennett put up big numbers at Vanderbilt. But of the three Bears who will enjoy a homecoming this weekend when the Bears play the Titans in Nashville, Tenn., nickelback D.J. Moore returns as the biggest hero.

‘‘I’m the best one to come out of Vandy,’’ Moore said lightheartedly Wednesday. ‘‘Out of [the three of] us, I’m the only one who went to a bowl game.’’

Cutler was the SEC player of the year as a senior in 2006. Bennett became the SEC’s all-time leader in receptions in 2007. But Moore was as responsible as anybody for ending the Commodores’ bowl drought in 2008.

A junior defensive back and wide receiver, Moore caught two touchdown passes and intercepted Kentucky quarterback Randall Cobb twice in a 31-24 victory in Lexington that clinched Vanderbilt’s first bowl appearance since 1982. The Commodores beat nationally ranked Boston College 16-14 in the Music City Bowl.

Moore was an all-state wide receiver in high school in South Carolina but was primarily a defensive back in college, though he played six positions at Vanderbilt.

‘‘I didn’t want to play defense,’’ Moore said. ‘‘So they told me I was going to play offense, and as soon as I signed, they switched me to DB.’’

But he became an All-SEC cornerback and turned pro after his junior year. The Bears drafted him in the fourth round in 2009.

But neither he nor Cutler is very sentimental about returning to Nashville.

‘‘Most of the people I went to college with are gone,’’ Moore said. ‘‘The coaches are gone. It was a nice city to go to college at. But it’s pretty much another game.’’

Said Cutler: ‘‘I get to check on my house — that’s about it. Other than that, it’s just another game.’’

No looking back

Wide receiver Brandon Marshall opened his weekly news conference by asking for ‘‘a moment of silence for last week’s game.’’ He was kidding, but it’s clear the fourth-quarter heroics against the Panthers fooled even the players into thinking they did their job well.

What’s wrong with the offense?

“I don’t know,’’ Marshall said. ‘‘We’re close to being a really explosive group. We’re working hard to get where we want to be. Will we be the No. 1 offense? I don’t know about that. It’s our first year for all of us being together, but we have the ability to be a really great, explosive offense. I think that will come sooner than later.’’

Injury update

Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (broken hand) still is not practicing and will be ‘‘out for a while still,’’ coach Lovie Smith said. Tight end Matt Spaeth (ankle) was limited in practice. But the Bears are otherwise healthy.

‘‘When you have two guys on the injury list ... you’re in pretty good shape,’’ Smith said.

Lovie’s Bulls

Smith, who never sounds more like a fan than when he talks about the Bulls, said he was looking forward to the start of their regular season Wednesday night.

‘‘I’m a die-hard Bulls fan,’’ he said. ‘‘I love watching my Bulls. Hopefully we can have a great year.’’



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