Keeping the seat warm

A day after Kordell Stewart picked up a win in relief of injured Chris Chandler, the Bears' quarterback situation remained in a cloud.

Coach Dick Jauron said Chris Chandler would still be the starter Sunday against the Cardinals if he were healthy. That appears doubtful, but maybe not, since there appears to be as much confusion about the injury as there is about the position.

"We'll have to wait and see how his health is," Jauron said. "He's going to get checked out (Monday) and then they'll check him out (today), and we'll see where that thing goes."

Chandler was heard on Sunday describing his injury as a mild separation of the right shoulder, but that was news to Jauron.

"Nobody used the word 'separation' with me," Jauron said. "(The trainers said) an A-C (acromioclavicular) joint strain. Nobody feels it's a really significant injury. Nobody feels like it's a season-ending injury, but once again we get the MRI (magnetic resonance imaging test), then we'll see how he is (today)."

There was even confusion as to when the injury occurred. Immediately after the game, coaches assumed it came on the deep pass to Marty Booked that was not completed but resulted in a 45-yard gain for the Bears because of pass interference on Broncos cornerback Lenny Walls. Chandler actually was hurt when he was sacked by defensive end Trevor Pryce on the previous possession and then aggravated the injury when he aired out the pass to Booker.

"He threw the 60-yard ball to Marty after he was injured," Jauron said. "What he said was it just got stiffer and stiffer as he went along. Then at halftime clearly he wasn't not going to be able to play in the second half."

In his last three games, Chandler has completed just 51.3 percent of his passes, including 44.4 percent on Sunday. Kordell Stewart completed just 46.7 percent of his throws against the Broncos.

Neither quarterback was very productive throwing the ball on Sunday, just as neither has been effective throwing the ball all season. They're the two lowest-rated quarterbacks in the NFL among players with enough attempts to qualify.

But Stewart gives the Bears' ground attack another weapon with his mobility, which serves as a complement to running back Anthony Thomas. Most important, Stewart makes defenses respect his athleticism, which creates conflicts of assignment, as several Broncos defenders pointed out.

"He changed the tempo," Denver linebacker Al Wilson said. "He got outside the pocket and made some plays that Chris Chandler can't make."

Although both players were sacked once, Stewart escaped a couple other potential sacks with his elusiveness.

"It makes a big difference (to the defense) because we prepared for a guy who just stands there," Pryce said. "Stewart played really well. That is probably the best I have ever seen him play, and that certainly is a compliment to him."

Jauron had some compliments for Stewart, too, but he clearly has not been impressed enough to award him a start based on merit rather than because of injury circumstances.

"I thought Kordell did an outstanding job as our 2," Jauron said. "It was clear that he had prepared. It was clear that he is professional. You see a lot of high-profile athletes who get demoted (and) who don't do what he did. They don't prepare. They don't take up their role and really fill the obligation to the team."

Stewart did that Sunday, but Jauron said he needs to win more games to win back the starting job. That's difficult to do if he's not playing.


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