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Bears' Brown hoping for healthy season

Bears' Brown hoping for healthy season

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BOURBONNAIS — The Chicago Bears' own version of a Pilates conditioning program has veteran strong safety Mike Brown believing he'll last a full NFL season.

"It's a long, tough season and I want to be there for every game that we play," the six-year veteran said.

Brown, named second-team Associated Press All-Pro in 2005, never got to play in his first Pro Bowl last February due to a partially torn calf muscle and he missed the final 14 games of 2004 with a torn Achilles.

So Bears strength and conditioning coach Rusty Jones put Brown on a stretching and conditioning program designed to "get my body in balance," Brown said.

Brown's wife, Erin, nicknamed it "Bear-lates."

"I think it's working," Brown said. "I feel really good and I can tell that my body is changing as far as the way that I'm moving, the way that I'm running, things are feeling different."

Jones successfully implemented a similar offseason conditioning program for Brian Urlacher after the star linebacker went through a 2004 season plagued by hamstring pulls.

Brown missed the second half of the Bears' 29-21 playoff loss to Carolina because he aggravated the calf injury. The disappointment of missing the end of that game _ as well as 18 missed games due to injuries the last two years _ also have caused Brown to alter his approach toward training camp to ensure he'll be around at the end of this season.

At coach Lovie Smith's request, Brown is taking days off every now and then or being held out for a set of plays while rookie safety Danieal Manning comes on the field.

"The guy is an intense football player," Bears defensive coordinator Ron Rivera said of Brown. "He really is. And he does push himself exceptionally hard.

"I know one of the things that coach Smith has really been concerned with, especially our veteran leadership guys, is that hey, let's be smart about things, let's understand that your position on this team is relatively secure. What we really need is for you to get past this week and start focusing on not just the preseason, but the first quarter of the season."

The Bears lost three of their final five games, including the playoff, after Brown suffered the calf tear in practice. So they drafted Manning in the second round as their first pick overall.

"It gave us depth," Brown said. "I've had some problems staying healthy, and if someone goes down, we're going to have some quality guys come in and play at a high level."

Notes: Wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad joined a growing list of injured Bears when he missed practice with a slight groin strain. Because wide receiver Bernard Berrian already was injured with a hip-flexor strain, the Bears were down to their third and fourth receivers playing with the starters. … Smith said MRI results on injured running back Cedric Benson (shoulder) and fullback Brad Johnson (hamstring) should be available Tuesday. … Defensive tackle Ian Scott has undergone arthroscopic surgery on his left knee and is expected to miss two or three weeks.


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