Bears RB Taylor falls on sword, returns to practice

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chester Taylor was back practicing with the Chicago Bears on Tuesday, and he took the blame for a misunderstanding that left him thinking he had been cut.

The veteran running back's mea culpa is the latest twist in an odd saga that is widely expected to end with the team parting with him. It hasn't happened yet, though.

Taylor left Halas Hall on Monday after meeting with coach Lovie Smith under the impression that he was no longer in the team's plans. Yet there he was Tuesday.

"I just took the words the wrong way," Taylor said, referring to his conversation with Smith. "It was just a mistake."

Either way, he still appears to be on the outside looking in at running back.

Taylor did not play in last week's preseason game at Tennessee. Instead, the Bears went with Kahlil Bell as the third running back behind Matt Forte and Marion Barber and Taylor just watched.

That did not sit well with Taylor, and he made that clear to reporters after the game.

On Tuesday, he reiterated he was disappointed but added he would like to remain in Chicago.

"Of course I want to play," he said. "I'm always disappointed when I'm not playing but I understand the decisions they make and I've just got to deal with it."

As for his status with the Bears, he said, "I don't want to be released. I like it here in Chicago. I'm going to continue playing and see what happens."

Offensive coordinator Mike Martz said he "absolutely" expects Taylor to play against Cleveland in the final preseason game on Thursday. How much remains to be seen.

Smith had little to say about Taylor on Tuesday, other than, "He's one of the guys in the mix, just like everybody else."

The Bears could also be trying to salvage a trade involving Taylor, who was brought in to push Forte last season. Instead, he struggled, running for just 267 yards while averaging a career-low 2.4 per carry.

That clearly wasn't what Chicago had in mind when it signed him in 2010 to a four-year, $12.5 million contract with $7 million guaranteed. That same day, the Bears landed the big free agent prize in Pro Bowl defensive end Julius Peppers along with big blocking tight end Brandon Manumaleuna.

Peppers delivered as expected as Chicago won the NFC North at 11-5 and advanced all the way to the conference championship game. The other two, however, came up short.

Manumaleuna was released last month, and if there was any doubt Taylor was on shaky ground, that got washed away when Barber signed a two-year deal after his release by Dallas.

Plus, Bell is a special teams contributor and he's leading the team with 131 yards rushing on 28 attempts this preseason.

"I feel like I've done the things necessary to prepare myself to be successful when I get an opportunity," he said. "So I'm here, and I'm still loving it, and when I get a shot, hopefully I can produce."

For Taylor, getting released sooner rather than later might make it easier for him to latch on elsewhere. To that, he responded, "I don't know, I'm here right now so I can't be released sooner."

As for all the recent drama, he said he's moved past that.

"Yeah, I'm out here practicing, trying to still get better," Taylor said. "I'm out here, so it's behind me right now. I'm just focused on the game."

Notes: While Martz said QB Jay Cutler probably won't play Thursday, the head coach was noncommittal. The tight-lipped Smith said he has made a decision but would not reveal it, asking, "How long have we been together?" Martz was more forthcoming, saying, "Probably not. He's right now playing very, very well. His last two games were exceptional games, so I'm very pleased with where he is. The line has really made terrific progress. So we're happy. If we felt like we needed the work, certainly, we would do that. But at this point, I don't see the need, and I've talked to Lovie about that." ... DT Anthony Adams (calf) expects to start practicing next week and be ready for the season opener against Atlanta on Sept. 11. DE Corey Wootton (right knee) hopes to be ready for the Falcons game, although he hasn't practiced since the preseason opener against Buffalo. He was injured covering the opening kickoff against the Bills and underwent arthroscopic surgery. ... Asked about former Bears DE Alex Brown getting released by New Orleans on Tuesday, Smith called him a "lifetime friend." Could Chicago be a fit for Brown? "We've seen Alex. Alex has been here before. We like our guys we have right now."

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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