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Beekman working to improve
By Bob LeGere | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 11/17/2009 12:01 AM

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Even though he wasn't injured, Josh Beekman finished Thursday night's Bears game on the sideline.

Beekman started against the 49ers and in the previous two games at left guard, in place of Frank Omiyale, who started the first six games.

But Omiyale was in for the final possession, which consisted of 11 pass plays.

"We just liked Frank's ability to pass block," coach Lovie Smith said. "We were in a different mind-set at the end of the game when we had to pass. We like Frank a little bit more in that situation."

Beekman said he practiced with the starters Monday but declined to speculate beyond that.

"Coach (Smith has) the final say," he said. "So we'll see what happens and just come out and improve and get better."

Beekman's blocking helped spring Matt Forte for a total of 68 yards on two screen plays, but he has had trouble dealing with bigger tackles.

"I watched the tape, and I just have to do a little better battling big guys," Beekman said. "Olin (Kreutz) showed me some techniques (Monday) of (how to handle) bull rushing and things like that, and I was just working on that and getting better. That's my job.

"I had pluses and minuses (Thursday), but the ultimate job is to go out there and have no minuses, be like the Pro Bowlers that I play next to. That's the goal."

Beekman plays between six-time Pro Bowler Kreutz and seven-time Pro Bowl left tackle Orlando Pace.

Under pressure: Tight end Greg Olsen has become Jay Cutler's closest friend on the team, and he says the interception-prone quarterback can handle the scrutiny that comes with the job.

"He's doing great," Olsen said. "He's a professional. He's a tough guy. He has a lot of confidence in himself and this team. No matter what happens, nothing's going to keep him down.

"There are a lot of things that we all need to do to take some of the pressure off him, and that's kind of what we've addressed."

Hand in hand: It's not just a coincidence that in Jay Cutler's three worst games, when he has thrown 12 of his 17 interceptions, the Bears have stumbled badly in the running game.

In those three games - losses to the Packers, Bengals and 49ers - the Bears had 164 yards on 64 carries, a 2.6-yard average, while Cutler had passer ratings of 43.2, 64.1 and 33.6, respectively.

"A lot goes into when you turn the ball over with an interception," coach Lovie Smith said. "Of course the quarterback will get blamed for it all.

"All of those (interceptions) weren't his fault. The running game will help that a lot. We need to get our running game going. We've said that all along.

"When you're a running team, the run will set up the pass. That hasn't happened for us yet, but we'll stay committed to it. Just like the weather's changing, hopefully some that can change."

Injury update: Offensive tackle Orlando Pace (head), safety Al Afalava (shoulder) and cornerback Zack Bowman (back) all practiced to some extent Monday.

Center Olin Kreutz, tight end Desmond Clark (neck), safety Kevin Payne (back) and running back Garrett Wolfe (lacerated kidney) did not practice.