Conference call: Bears head coach Lovie Smith


(On not having to worry about motivation for playing an undefeated team)

No, they're all aware of Tennessee's rankings and record and as much as anything what type of football team they are. We're excited about the game. I don't think we've ever had an undefeated team come in to play the Bears at Soldier Field so we're excited about it.

(On if it's hard to find new and creative ways to get the ball into Devin Hester's hands)

No, you can get the ball in his hands as a receiver or you can put him in the backfield if you really insist on doing it [for] reverses and things like that. We want to get him the ball in a lot of different ways. As a traditional receiver which we've been able to do, and he's still of course our return guy. He's getting his touches and we feel pretty good about that.

(On what teams have done to contain Devin Hester this year)

Yeah, but it's halfway through the season. For whatever reason, it happens that way but he's still the same Devin Hester. One of the all-time, if not the best all-time, great returners to play the game. So it's just a matter of time. Hopefully it will be this week.

(On if he sees any similarities between Devin Hester and Chris Johnson in terms of their ability to break big plays)

Yes, Chris Johnson is definitely a dangerous football player. He was a great player in college with great speed and he's definitely carried over to our league. He's been productive not just as a speed back, he runs with power. He's got the full-package just like our running back Matt Forte. Both of them are holding their own in the league in their first year.

(On if they looked at possibly drafting Chris Johnson last year)

Quite a bit. We looked at all the top running backs coming out and of course Chris was one of them. Whenever you see a guy that can accelerate as fast as he can and you know what type of speed he has and then you look at his production too, of course it will get your attention. I can't say I'm completely surprised at how he's played. I thought he'd be a very good football player in the league.

(On this year's crop of rookie running backs)

Well it seems like it's as good of a crop that's taken the league so soon and been productive players. There's quite a few running backs that came out of this draft that are playing at a high level. If the running back of course if he's not in, we have a few that are injured, but besides that the rest of them are all looking like seasoned veterans running the football.

(On why rookie running backs tend to have more success compared to other positions)

I think skill guys in general can have a lot of success because talent is just talent. Once you get here it's just players playing making plays. What I think we see is just for whatever reason some good players are coming through at this time. As far as running backs, a lot of it is just natural instincts and it doesn't matter where you are in college or the pros, it's all basically the same.

(On how much things will change with Rex Grossman at quarterback)

Well, we hope not a lot. It's not like we're going to become a run-and-shoot team or go to the wishbone or something like that. We're going to keep doing what we've been doing and Rex will step in and do a good job for us. We've won a lot of games with Rex leading our football team so sometimes when you go to your backup quarterback the team takes off even more and we're hoping that we don't have a setback or anything like that. It's just like the Titans did. They've gone to their backup quarterback and look where they are.

(On how close the training camp competition was between Kyle Orton and Rex Grossman)

It was a good battle. As far as how close, it was a good battle for the position. Kyle of course won it fair and square and he's played that way. During the course of the season what players need to know, and they do know, that it's a long year and most of the time those backups will get an opportunity to play. They just have to be ready when their number is called.

(On seeing Rex Grossman handle his demotion professionally and then step up last week)

Well, it didn't surprise me. Rex Grossman is a professional. He's a team player. Your team role is sometimes designed each week on what you're required to do but Rex is a team guy and he would do whatever he needed to do to help the football team. Going into that role, you don't like it, but you accept it and just try to become the best backup quarterback you can be at the time.

(On Stephen Tulloch)

He's made a lot of plays, he's active, a good knee bender, you know, a good football player. The Titans, you look at their team as a whole and that's what you see. You see a lot of good football players getting in position to make plays. Of course, Keith Bulluck is a heck of a linebacker. Cortland Finnegan has really played well. Of course, up front [Albert] Haynesworth is as good as any lineman in the league. A lot of things go on but they're really playing together as a unit.

(On why Justin Gage did not catch on in Chicago and if he's doing anything different now)

It's hard to say. That's how the league goes. Sometimes, for whatever reason, I think everyone ends up where they belong and that's what's happened with Justin. He did a good job for us here. We had other guys and he never really got into a position where he could be the man here. But he worked out for them there. Just a great guy and we couldn't be happier for him. [I] pull for him every week, of course except for this one.

(On if the Bears benefit from cold weather at home)

Well, we should hope. Everyone has a home-field advantage and that's ours. Once it gets to November you start playing in the elements around here. You said it was 38, I heard it was going to be close in the teens or something. Whatever the temperature is, both teams play in the same thing.

(On what Earl Bennett needs to do to contribute more)

Earl just has to put in his time. We've had some other guys that have played really well ahead of him. In the preseason he had a long punt return and got a chance to show us what type of player he eventually will be when he gets more playing time. But right now it's just a matter of him getting experience and waiting for his time.

(On if Hunter Hillenmeyer will be healthy enough to play this weekend)

We hope so. Of course, when you miss a game there's concern but he's making progress and hopefully will be available.

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