Bears notebook: Lovie raves about Peppers

Matt Trowbridge

While the Chicago Bears’ hopes for offensive improvement revolved around new offensive coordinator Mike Martz, everything on defense seems pinned on $91.5 million free-agent end Julius Peppers.

Coach Lovie Smith said Peppers has been more than advertised so far.

“You see a guy on video, but when you see him up close in person, it’s a 300-pound man who moves like a defensive back. That’s what you are dealing with,” Smith said Wednesday after Chicago’s final organized team activity (OTA) practice.

“He has done everything we have asked him to do. It’s hard for a guy sometimes to move into a leadership role that quick, but that’s exactly what he’s done. We can’t wait to take this next step with him. We have a lot of things in store for him that we haven’t done in the past when you have a special player like that.”

Kreutz returns to practice

Pro Bowl center Olin Kreutz missed Chicago’s first 12 OTA practices but returned in a limited role Wednesday after having surgery in January to repair an Achilles tendon.

“It’s good and bad,” quarterback Jay Cutler joked of Kreutz’s return. “He wants to be in there, and he gets out here and gets a little bored. When he gets bored, he starts picking on guys.”

Gone bowling

After the 13th and final OTA practice, the Bears had only one team activity left.

“Our last team activity each year is to go out and bowl,” Lovie Smith said.

Season long enough

Cutler wasn’t a fan of the NFL talk to expand the season from 16 games to 18.

“It’s a long season as it is now,” he said. “Putting two more games on top of it, you’d have to expand the roster and do some other stuff to get the players through it.”

“I follow the commissioners’ lead,” Lovie Smith said. “Right now we have a good game. Most teams use three of the preseason games quite a bit. But as long as we’re all going by the same rules, we can adjust with it. Whatever they decide is what we’ll be for.”

Matt Trowbridge can be reached at 815-987-1383 or