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Teammates rally around QB
By Bob LeGere | Daily Herald Staff

Bears quarterback Rex Grossman has no ball to pass after it got stripped by the Colts' Robert Mathis


Associated Press

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Published: 8/24/2007 12:33 AM

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Rex Grossman's teammates believe he has been treated unfairly by the media in the wake of his 3-fumble performance Monday.

But they're hardly shocked, and they don't expect handling the snap from center or the criticism will be a problem.

"The reason they're bashing him? I really don't know," wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad said. "But am I surprised? No. I don't think that it's caused us to lose any confidence in what he can do."

Grossman developed a thick skin last season when he was vilified following several disastrous performances, and so did the rest of the team.

"It's a continuation of last year, so, no, we're not (surprised)," defensive end Adewale Ogunleye said. "I'm not. To play in this town as a quarterback is pretty tough from what I'm seeing. I would not want to be a quarterback in this city, not at all.

"(But) I'm sure he's going to bounce back. The bad snaps, I think that's something that's easily corrected, more so than throwing interceptions."

More than anyone else, Grossman will be under the microscope Saturday at 7 p.m. against the San Francisco 49ers, when Bears starters will get their most extended time of the preseason.

Grossman needs a bounce-back performance to silence his critics -- if only temporarily -- but his teammates say they still have faith in him.

He has completed 81 percent of his preseason passes (17 of 21), but that has been overshadowed by 1 interception, the two fumbled snaps and another fumble caused by a sack.

"I think he can make some great plays," Muhammad said. "And he will make some great plays and he'll win a lot of games for us this year. He might have some bad games this year, too, but I think Rex has given the players in this room enough reason for us to have confidence in him.

"I honestly believe he's given the city of Chicago enough reason to have some love for him. But for some reason or another, people find a reason to hate you, too."

And that's not an easy thing for his personal protectors, the offensive linemen, to witness.

"You don't want your teammate getting beaten up by the media or by critics," said 13-year veteran guard Ruben Brown. "I'm sure it does weigh on him to a degree, but he's a professional, and he's overcome it before, so we trust that he'll do it again."

He should have plenty of opportunities against a 49ers pass defense that was one of the league's weakest last season. And the Bears' offensive line is firmly in his corner, so he has that going for him, which is nice.

"I've always admired Rex," center Olin Kreutz said. "Rex is a tough guy, a professional, takes a lot of blame on himself."

In the most recent case, he probably should, which he admits.

"With the snaps, that should never happen," Grossman said. "It just looks sloppy. I want to come out and look sharp against the 49ers and continue the progress that I've made and take that next step as a quarterback.

"I'm just doing my job. Preparing as hard as I can to play the 49ers and concentrating on my health and getting this offense rolling. That's all I'm worried about."

That would be enough to get the haters off his back -- at least for a while.