Bears RB Marion Barber brushes off tacklers, reporters
BY SEAN JENSEN firstname.lastname@example.org August 15, 2011 9:38PM
Marion Barber had 45 yards on seven carries in the preseason opener against the Bills. | Getty Images
Updated: October 19, 2011 3:58AM
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. — In his first public comments since signing with the Bears, running back Marion Barber didn’t want to talk about his past.
And he didn’t want to talk much about the present or future.
A player who long has preferred not to communicate with reporters, Barber — during a 75-second interview — focused on continuing to build on his reputation as one of the league’s more bruising backs and helping the Bears win.
“That’s what I’ve been doing my whole career, so it’s not going to stop now,” Barber said of his punishing style, which he showcased on seven carries for 45 yards Saturday against the Buffalo Bills.
“It’s just all about playing football. I mean, fresh start — I’m just glad I’m here and going from there.”
Barber starred at the University of Minnesota, and he earned a Pro Bowl spot after an impressive 2007 season. That yielded a seven-year, $45 million contract from the Dallas Cowboys that included $16 million in guarantees.
But after averaging a career-low 3.3 yards per carry last season, Barber was released in July, and he quickly signed a two-year contract with the Bears.
Asked why he chose the Bears, Barber said, “I’m just talking about right now. I’m just glad to be here, and I’m going to continue to work.”
The Bears have a rich running- back tradition, but Barber reiterated that he’s “here to play football.”
“I don’t think about the past,’’ he said. ‘‘I just think about now and helping contribute to this football team.”
As a reporter asked a question, Barber walked away, passing Scott Hagel, the team’s senior director of corporate communications.
“That’s it for the year,” Barber said.
Special-teams coach Dave Toub has no issues with the new rule that pushes the kickoff spot up to the 35-yard line.
But as he tries to identify his players on special teams, Toub said the Bears received permission from the NFL before the preseason opener to kick off from the 30.
“We thought we could do it; we thought we were clear with it,” Toub said. “Talked to the officials before, and they were fine with it. We’re trying to evaluate our kickoff team. You don’t get any evaluation when you have touchbacks.”
After two kickoffs from the 30-yard line, the Bears were instructed to place the ball at the 35.
If the preseason is any indicator, one of the most exciting plays in football won’t be as prevalent this season because of the rule change.
Toub said receiver Johnny Knox will definitely replace Danieal Manning, who signed with the Houston Texans during the offseason, as the kick returner. Knox had a 70-yard return against the Bills.
“Johnny can certainly fill that role,” Toub said.
† Cornerback Zack Bowman was “ready to go” and said he didn’t suffer a concussion. But he was held out of Monday’s practice, along with receiver Earl Bennett, defensive tackle Anthony Adams and linebacker J.T. Thomas.
◆ Jay Cutler told WSCR-AM (670) that rookie receiver Dane Sanzenbacher could be a “mini-Wes Welker” for the Bears.