The Bears' injury-riddled offensive line can expect another all-out assault on quarterback Jay Cutler this week, considering he's been sacked 11 times in two games.
"This happened to us last year," said Cutler who was sacked 27 times in his first six games last season but "just" 25 in his final nine games. "This is nothing new. We struggled with some things, and we made some changes. That's what this league's about, is going out there and putting stuff on film. People are going to react to it, and we've got to react back. It's just how it goes. It's back and forth."
Rookie offensive right tackle Gabe Carimi (knee) won't play Sunday, and he might be out for several weeks, which leaves Frank Omiyale in his place, playing across from Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews, who has 23 1/2 sacks in his first two NFL seasons.
Lance Louis, the opening day starter at right guard, was limited at Wednesday's practice because of the sprained ankle he suffered in Week One. If he's close to 100 percent, Louis will be on the field somewhere. If not, Chris Spencer would likely get another start.
G Lance Louis
Matthew Emmons/US Presswire
"We'd like to get Lance back and in the mix," offensive line coach Mike Tice said. "He was one of our starters in the first week because we felt like he was one of our five best linemen. We wanted him on the field. And when Lance comes back, we'll find a place for Lance to play."
It's possible Louis could play somewhere other than right guard.
"You guys have been around me a year; you know I'll consider anything," said Tice, whose 14-year NFL playing career ended in 1995. "I actually lost 12 pounds, and I'm trying my pads on tomorrow. I don't know if I've got anything in me but the National Anthem, but I'm going to certainly give it a whirl."
--All three of Drew Brees' TD passes last week came on third downs, situations where the Bears like to think they excel defensively, and where they were No. 6 in the NFL last season.
But against the Saints, the defense allowed 8 of 17 third-down conversions (47 percent), while the offense succeeded on just 2 of 12 (17 percent). The league average was 38.2 percent last season.
"Third downs really hurt us a lot," coach Lovie Smith said. "You can't win many football games when you're (converting) 17 percent. Defensively, we didn't take the ball away enough. One takeaway isn't going to get it. Letting them convert 47 percent on third downs won't get it either for us, and we lost momentum with the long touchdown pass (79-yarder to Devery Henderson)."
--Offensive line coach Mike Tice takes the welfare of quarterback Jay Cutler personally, and not just because it's his group that has the greatest responsibility for protecting him.
"I played quarterback at Maryland," said Tice, who was a two-year starter for the Terrapins (1979-80). "I've been hit that hard before. It doesn't feel real good. There's a lot of blame, and we certainly have ours in our (meeting) room. We don't want to see him get hit like that."
The coaching staff felt god about the eight offensive linemen who made the 53-man, and because of injuries, all eight have already played. Although the early results (11 sacks) haven't been encouraging, Tice believes his group has the right stuff.
"When you're playing football, the guy next to you and the guy with the ball in his hand, you don't ever want anyone to hit him," he said. "That's like letting someone hit your brother, and you don't ever want your brother to get touched. That should (tick) you off, and if it doesn't (tick) you off, then we have the wrong guys. I think we have the right guys, and I think we'll get it fixed."
BY THE NUMBERS: 2 -- Punt-return touchdowns by Devin Hester against the Packers on 20 attempts, on which he has a 15.0-yard average.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We didn't come to play, and in this league, when you don't come to play, that's the result. No matter who you play, you always have to come with your best, and we didn't. As a result the game ended up the way it did." -- Bears S Brandon Meriweather on the 30-13 loss to the Saints in Week Two
GAME PLAN: The Bears will absolutely not have the same lopsided run-pass ratio on offense as they did last week, when offensive coordinator Mike Martz called for 52 passes and 11 runs. There will be a greater emphasis on running the ball, especially if Marion Barber (calf) is ready for his first regular-season action of 2011. Expect to see more max protection and three-step drops from the Bears who have allowed 11 sacks already, the most in the NFL.
RB Marion Barber
Defensively the Bears must get more pressure on Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers than they did on the Saints' Drew Brees last week, when they had just one sack and rarely came close. The Bears' Cover-2 is based on getting a strong pass rush from the four linemen, but that didn't happen last week, and they may have to resign themselves to more blitzing.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Bears ORT Frank Omiyale, who is filling in for injured rookie Gabe Carimi (knee) and has failed to hold on to starting jobs at left guard and left tackle in the past, vs. Packers LOLB Clay Matthews, who had 13 1/2 sacks last season.
Bears injury-depleted safeties, none of whom played very well last week against the Saints' Drew Brees, vs. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, who has a career passer rating of 98.4, but who threw just two TD passes and four interceptions in three games vs. the Bears last season.
--RB Matt Forte is second in the NFL with 324 yards from scrimmage (117 rushing, 207 receiving), trailing only Panthers' wide receiver Steve Smith, who has 334 yards, all on receptions.
--CB Charles Tillman has four interceptions, three forced fumbles and two recovered fumbles in 15 career games vs. the Packers. He has 26 career forced fumbles, more than any defensive back in the NFL since 2003, when he entered the league. He has forced a fumble in each of the first two games.
--QB Jay Cutler has a 93.6 passer rating in his Bears career in September, but he completed just 19 of 45 passes last week and had a 67.3 passer rating.
--WR Johnny Knox is averaging 21.0 yards per catch, but he has just five receptions this season.
--WR Devin Hester has caught just 15 passes in his last nine games, including the 2010 postseason.
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