Free-agent S Brandon Meriweather didn't join the Chicago Bears until Sept. 4, but he's making rapid progress and could see even more action this week than in the season opener, when he got valuable reps alternating with starting FS Major Wright.
"Just looking at what he was able to do last week from coming in with just a few days of practice, we were pleased with his first time out," coach Lovie Smith said. "He's been working overtime, trying to be more prepared for this week. The plan is to try to continue to get him more reps this week."
With SS Chris Harris out Wednesday with a hamstring injury, Meriweather got additional practice snaps.
"He was able to get more reps in practice, and that's what it's about, getting more and more comfortable in what we do, and hopefully we'll see even more improvement this week."
--LB Brian Urlacher was not at Wednesday's practice, having left the team to be with family after the death of his mother.
--DE Julius Peppers has just five sacks in 15 career games vs. the Saints, but he's forced four fumbles and intercepted two passes.
--QB Jay Cutler has a 98.8 passer rating in September as a member of the Bears and a 6-1 record as a starter with 14 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. He also had a passer rating of 100 or higher in five of his last seven regular-season games.
--RB Matt Forte is fourth in the NFL with 4,889 yards from scrimmage since entering the league in 2008.
G Lance Louis
--OG Lance Louis (ankle) did not practice and is assumed out for Sunday.
--WR Roy Williams (groin) did not practice but still hopes to play Sunday.
--S Chris Harris (hamstring) did not practice but has not been ruled out for Sunday.
--RB Marion Barber (calf) returned to practice on a limited basis and could play Sunday.
--WR Sam Hurd (ankle) was a full participant in practice for the first time this season and should play Sunday.
--DE Corey Wootton (knee) was a full participant in practice for the first time this season and might be active Sunday.
The 1-0 Bears could be catching the 0-1 Saints at the most opportune time. They will be without WR Marques Colston, who fractured his collarbone against the Packers. He led the Saints last season with 1,023 yards and 84 catches, including seven touchdowns.
Another wide receiver, Lance Moore, could miss the game because of a groin injury that kept him out of the season-opening 42-34 loss. Moore led the Saints last season with eight touchdown catches among his 66 receptions for 763 yards, both of which were second-best on the team.
Defensive end Will Smith, who is arguably the Saints' best pass rusher, is also out. He is serving the second of a two-game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy. Smith had a modest 5 1/2 sacks last season, but he had 13 in 2009.
But the Bears could be a bit off this week as well, considering the death of Brian Urlacher's mother, which will take him away from the team for several days, although he could return Sunday.
The Bears will try to match the pass-rush pressure they generated last week, when they got to Falcons QB Matt Ryan five times despite using blitzes sparingly. All the sacks came from d-linemen, including two from DE Julius Peppers, two more from 3T Henry Melton and one from Amobi Okoye.
The Bears have talked about a stronger emphasis on the run, but last week Jay Cutler threw to nine receivers for 312 yards, although the expected return of short-yardage/complementary back Marion Barber could result in more running plays, especially in the red zone.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
Bears NT Anthony Adams and 3T Henry Melton vs. Saints C Olin Kreutz, who was the Bears' center for the previous 13 seasons. Adams practiced against Kreutz for the previous four seasons, but Melton is a first-year starter who had two sacks last week in his first NFL start.
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