|Muhammad hopes to be more involved after catching only 2 passes|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 19 September 2007 14:11|
Two catches for 15 yards?
It doesn't add up to him, yet that's exactly what the Chicago Bears' veteran receiver has after two games.
``When I go back and look at the film, I'm probably the most critical person on myself,'' Muhammad said Wednesday.
But when he reviewed the Bears' 14-3 season-opening loss at San Diego and last week's 20-10 victory over Kansas City, he saw a receiver who did nothing wrong.
``I've been out there working hard,'' Muhammad said. ``For whatever reason, it isn't bouncing my way right now. When my plays are getting called - and there are plays getting called - it's like the person covering takes it away every single time.''
And it has all added up to this: A two-time Pro Bowl receiver trying not to lose his patience while the offense tries to live up to loftier expectations.
For now, everyone's scratching their heads.
The offense ranks 30th, has just one touchdown and six of Chicago's seven turnovers, including three interceptions by Rex Grossman. It's nowhere near what the Bears envisioned.
They saw a quarterback finding the consistency he lacked in his first full year as a starter after three injury-ravaged seasons. Instead, it's been more of the same for Grossman, and the passing game remains grounded.
Bernard Berrian has 10 catches for 148 yards but has not broken off a big play after catching four touchdown passes of 34 yards or more last season. Tight end Desmond Clark has seven catches for 67, but no one else has more than three receptions. The Bears also look vulnerable against the blitz, even though their offensive line is among the league's best.
``It's disappointing that we haven't played up to the way that we should be playing,'' Clark said. ``I guess you just get an attitude about things that you've got to get it right. Everybody wants to go out and get it right and just show what kind of offense we have.''
Rookie tight end Greg Olsen might make his debut Sunday night against Dallas after missing the first two games with a sprained knee, which would help. But getting Muhammad involved is a more pressing issue, considering he caught just one pass in each of the first two games.
``It's big. It's huge,'' Grossman said. ``He's a great receiver. I think that's the most important reason. He can contribute a lot because he's a playmaker, runs great routes, catches the ball well. We need that. Bernard's played real well, but we also need to emphasize getting Muhsin the ball in his hands to make things happen.''
Muhammad said this stretch reminds him of one he experienced in 2004, his final season with Carolina. The Panthers lost Steve Smith to a broken leg in the season opener, and Muhammad had just 23 catches and 290 yards through the first six weeks.
As the season wore on, he got more looks. By the time it was over, he led the NFC in yards receiving (1,405) and the NFL in touchdown catches (16) and made his second Pro Bowl.
``I was thrown the ball a whole lot more,'' he said. ``It's hard to catch 10 balls when you only get two balls thrown at you. But I would say there was a lot more emphasis.''
Although Grossman said he won't force the issue, he will try to get Muhammad more involved against Dallas on Sunday night. Against San Diego, all the Bears got was an 8-yard reception. Against Kansas City, a 7-yarder.
Does Muhammad need to do a better job getting open?
``No,'' Grossman said. ``He's doing all he can.
``I can't really say that it's anything I've done to take myself out of the game,'' Muhammad said. ``If I got an end route and there's a linebacker right underneath me and there's a safety on top of me, the best thing to do is check it down to the running back. You have to commend the quarterback for saying, 'You know what? I'm not going to force the ball in there. I'm going to check it down to the running back.'''