BEARS IN BRIEF: Lovie won't use Melton as RB in short-yardage situations
BY NEIL HAYES firstname.lastname@example.org
Using defensive lineman Henry Melton, a former college running back, in short-yardage situations has been widely considered outside Halas Hall but hasn't been the subject of an internal debate, coach Lovie Smith said.
''Henry is still a developing player,'' Smith said. ''He's playing [defensive tackle] and [end] and on special teams. He hasn't mastered the defensive line positions yet. We'll continue to let him develop and leave running the ball to the running backs right now."
The Bears are 0-for-10 from an opponent's 1-yard line, which is something the 6-3, 260-pound Melton could help remedy. He was an effective short-yardage back during his first two-plus seasons at Texas before switching to the defensive line midway through his junior year. In all, he scored 16 touchdowns for the Longhorns.
''Defense is my spot,'' Melton said. ''If the team needs me to help out somewhere, I'm more than willing to do it.''
Melton said he wouldn't have to relearn the ''subtleties'' of the position because there are none.
''I've been doing it for years,'' said Melton, who was a second-team All-America running back in high school. ''You just put the ball in your arm, hold it tight and run over whoever is in your way, right- ''Improvement needed
The Bears will play the Buffalo Bills in Toronto on Sunday, but you won't hear them talking about how winless Buffalo is the perfect opponent to ease into the tough second half of their schedule.
''We don't look at records,'' defensive end Julius Peppers said. ''We look at players and plays, but mainly we focus on ourselves. We take care of business on our side of the football.''
When asked where the defense needs to improve, Peppers didn't hesitate.
''Everywhere,'' he said. ''Every position, every man can get better.'' Injury report
Linebackers Lance Briggs (ankle) and Brian Urlacher (groin) and guard Roberto Garza (knee) returned to practice Monday, but guard Edwin Williams (back) and cornerback Zack Bowman (foot) are still on the mend.
''He looked pretty good today,'' Smith said of Briggs, who missed most of the last two games. ''It was good to get him back on the field. I don't see any problems.''
Rookie safety Major Wright (hamstring) also seems to have recovered and could see action against the Bills.
''Major did some good things in the preseason,'' Smith said. ''The open-field tackle he made against San Diego was as good as you'll see. We just have to get him in the flow of things. It seems like he's picking up where he left off, which is good for our team.''