Beyond the surface

How convenient that struggling quarterback <!--Default NodeId For Kordell Stewart is 664678,2003--><A HREF=[PlayerNode:664678]>Kordell Stewart</A> came down with a mysterious leg injury this week that allows the Bears to start backup <!--Default NodeId For Chris Chandler is 722135,2003--><A HREF=[PlayerNode:722135]>Chris Chandler</A> without having to formally bench Stewart.

Stewart's "injury" originally occurred during the Raiders game in Week Five, but didn't prevent him from rushing nine times for 52 yards. He re-injured the same leg last week while rushing nine more times for 42 yards but also losing two fumbles after being blindsided on sacks. The turnovers handed the Saints 10 points in a 20-13 Bears loss.

So Chandler will get the call Sunday against the Seahawks in Seattle (1:15 local time).

The issue at quarterback is clouded because that's apparently the way the Bears want it.

"It's a question that doesn't need to be answered really," Coach Dick Jauron said when asked if Chandler was starting because Stewart is questionable with a vague leg injury. "The fact is that Kordell is hurt, and Chris is playing this week."

But players who are questionable, like Stewart, supposedly have a 50-50 chance of playing. Are they are almost never ruled out on Wednesday, a full four days before the game. Most of them wind up playing. Wide receiver Marty Booker is listed as questionable with a sprained ankle, but the Bears are hoping he will start Sunday.

Further confusing the issue are comments from Stewart, who was originally hurt in the Raiders game and re-injured last week, even though he rushed nine times for 42 yards and didn't appear impaired at all.

"I didn't practice (Wednesday), just to give it a chance to rest and all that good stuff," said Stewart, who said he would start Sunday if he's healthy. "We have to be optimistic about it and see what happens."

But later, Stewart, No. 31 in the NFL with a 56.0 passer rating, almost seemed resigned to accepting what appears to be a demotion.

"I don't really try to ask too many questions and worry about what could happen or why is it happening," he said. "But this game is like life. You're going to have situations that are going to occur and, as a human being, you're either going to be immature or mature about it and open-minded about it as well. It's not a time to point a finger."

Chandler, who turned 38 last Sunday, has taken two snaps this season when Stewart suffered a minor neck injury at the end of the 24-13 loss to the Vikings. He completed 1 pass, and the other was intercepted. In his last two starts last season, Chandler completed 29 of 35 passes (82.9 percent) for 290 yards, 1 TD and no interceptions. But he suffered a concussion early in the second game, his third injury of the season and at least the fourth concussion of his 16-year NFL career.

Chandler, in his second year with the Bears, said he is better equipped to run the offense than he was last year.

"I know this offense a lot better," he said. "I feel a lot more comfortable with this offense than I did last year."

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