Backed into a Corner

Chicago - The Bears rash of injuries took another twist Friday, as R.W. McQuarters had to leave the game with a hamstring pull.

At this point it's unclear how much time McQuarters will miss, but Lovie Smith didn't sound optimistic following the 17-13 loss to the Saints.

"Right now, we've lost our second and third corners so we're pushing guys up," Smith said. "Todd McMillon and Nathan Vasher have to play."

McMillon spent a portion of the second quarter and into the third with the first team defense. Even when McQuarters was in the game New Orleans threw to his side of the field in an attempt to stay away from Charles Tillman.

"We got guys who are good players, they're just young. I was like that last year," Tillman said.

With Jerry Azumah out until October after surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck and now McQuarters' health in question, the secondary is quickly becoming an area of concern. Opposing teams are almost certain to attack the cornerback opposite Tillman.

Clock is Ticking: The first round of roster cuts are due on Tuesday, which means the match-up with the Saints was the last chance for fringe players to make an impression on the coaching staff before the mandatory cut-down to 65 players.

Daryl Jones took a huge leap forward with a 68-yard kickoff return. He showed a combination of speed and elusiveness as he darted pass defenders and cut across the field.

Ahmad Merritt and Bernard Berrian had been the favorites to replace Jerry Azumah on kick returns, but haven't secured the position yet.

Chicago trimmed the roster to 84 earlier in the week reaching an injury settlement with CB Brock Williams. The team released TE Robert Johnson after he failed a physical. DT Charles Hill and LB Derrick Ballard were also waived.

With eight players receiving the NFL Europe exemption, which doesn't count toward the roster until the final cut-down on Sept. 5, the Bears can keep 73 players.

Whether or not there will be any major surprises when it comes to cuts remains to be seen.

"When you say surprises, it may be to you but to us, the guys really kind of establish themselves from early in camp throughout," Smith said. "I think the guys that you've seen getting better and better in camp are the ones that we'll end up keeping."

Big Shoes to Fill:Bobby Wade is expected to start in place of Marty Booker, but for the second straight week he dropped two catchable balls. His three catches for 35 yards were enough to finish the night as the leading receiver.

Protecting the Future: Rex Grossman was sacked for the first time in 64 attempts, which dates back to last season.

Room for Improvement: In three games Rex Grossman has completed just 46.2% (18-39 for 189 yards) of his passes with an average of 4.8 yards per attempt. The first completion of the game didn't come until the opening play of the second quarter.

One that got Away: David Terrell had a 28-yard touchdown reception negated by an offensive interference penalty. After catching seven touchdowns in his first 43 receptions, he only has one score in his last 43 catches.


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