Mike Green and Joe Odom are hampered with groin pulls, while a thumb problem that has kept Todd McMillon out of two games will keep him out at least one more week. While Green is the only starter among the group, the lack of bodies could impact the Bears special teams coverage.
In Green's place Bobby Gray will get his 4th start of the year.
Odom, who started three games earlier in the year, has been relegated to special teams duty since Warrick Holdman returned from injury in Week 8 The rookie came up with a fumble recovery on a kick return last week vs. St. Louis.
Helping fill the void on special teams caused by the temporary absence of McMillon, who the special teams tackle leader, has been wide receiver Ahmad Merritt. The receiver has had to become a force on coverage teams since the emergence of Bobby Wade and Justin Gage has relegated him to the 6th receiver role, which would mean being a game day inactive on most units.
Merritt stepped up big against the Rams, forcing a fumble recovered by Odom and recording a career-high four special teams tackles including one inside-the-20. Merritt vaulted himself into a second place on the team with seven special teams tackles this season. The Chicago native posted eight in 2002 in his first full season on the Bears roster.
McMillon and Joe Tafoya still lead the team in tackles with 8 apiece and are approaching their career-highs in the category set one year ago when they had 10 and 11, respectively. McMillon now has 25 career special teams tackles while Tafoya has 22. Rabih Abdullah had another special teams tackle on Sunday is now tied with Merritt with seven. Abdullah is Chicago's active leader with 80 career special teams stops.
News & Notes
The Bears have been outscored 49-9 in the first quarter this season. Since 1995, the Broncos have scored the most first-quarter points in the NFL and have the greatest first-quarter point differential in the NFL, 837-436. This season, the Broncos have outscored their opponents 72-43 in the first quarter.
The Bears have lost 12 straight road games and 19 of their last 24 overall.
The Bears have lost nine straight coin flips, starting the game on defense each time. But they have kept their opponents off the scoreboard on the opening drive for the past six weeks.