Questionable up front

In the excitement of Rex Grossman making his NFL debut Sunday one important fact has been overlooked. Forty percent of the starting offensive line could be missing.

Chris Villarrial (side) and Mike Gandy (shoulder) are both questionable and didn't practice Thursday.

Even if a mobile quarterback like Kordell Stewart started with a weakened line it would be a concern, but at this point a fellow rookie would be protecting Grossman's blindside.

Qasim Mitchell, who made his NFL debut when Gandy left the end of the Packer game because of his shoulder, could make his first start a week later.

"If Q (Qasim Mitchell) has to play at left tackle for Mike, I've got confidence in him," said offensive coordinator John Shoop.

After struggling in a back-up role at various positions, Terrence Metcalf is in line for his 2nd career start. His first came in place of Villarrial a week ago at right guard.

"I do believe that that's Terrence's best position is the right guard," Shoop said. " A little bit early in the season you know when you're a back-up and have to play a number of positions you maybe do a disservice to a guy in some regards."

There is still a chance that both Gandy and Villarrial could lineup on Sunday, but if not then Rex Grossman should yield Justin Gage's advice.

"Be ready to think quick and run fast," Gage said.

Safety Issue
A day after defensive coordinator Greg Blache went on a rant about whether Bobby Gray should supplant Mike Green as the starting strong safety, Coach Dick Jauron did little to clarify the issue.

"Mike is not 100 percent and the odds that he'll get back to 100 percent this year are probably not that good, but he's playing and he's pushing through things and so they'll both see time on the field," Jauron said. "Bobby could see a greater percentage of the snaps. What's happened with Mike, at least as this injury has moved along through the year, as he gets fatigued in the course of a game it seems to get worse, and then it's worse afterward if we let him get to that point. So we're trying to control it as much as we can and still use him on Sundays."

In other words the only reason Gray is in the lineup is Green's injury. While those in the media wonder why the team is enamored with Green, who has one career interception in nearly four seasons, any questioning of that fact is an insult to Blache.

"I get more politicking about Bobby and you know what, like I say, Bobby is going to be a great player, no question. But when his time comes, his time will come. But in the meantime, we'll make the decisions and trust me, I trust my decisions far more than I trust yours."

Is this the same theory that kept players like Charles Tillman and Lance Briggs off the field for the first month of the season when they were clearly the best option at their positions?

Award Winning
For the second time in three weeks a Bears rookie has been honored. Lance Briggs has been named the Week 14 rookie of the week in an online fan balloting. The linebacker recorded nine tackles, defensed two passes and returned his first career interception 45 yards for his first career touchdown in the Bears 34-21 loss to Green Bay.

"It's a nice award," Briggs said. "I read that more 31,000 fans voted and it was kind of a pull away (victory) so I was just happy to hear about it."

Charles Tillman won the award for his performance against Denver in Week 12. If Grossman can add his name to the list after Sunday then the Bears will be all smiles.


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