|IR/PUP||OT Rob Droege (IR-knee); TE Gabe Reid (IR-knee); OT Marc Colombo (PUP-knee); FS Mike Brown (IR-Achilles); QB Rex Grossman (IR-knee).||WR Edell Shepherd (IR-foot); WR Frank Murphy (IR-Achilles); WR Sylvester Morris (IR-knee); TE Rickey Dudley (IR-thumb); RB Charlie Garner (IR-knee); WR Joe Jurevicius (PUP-back); OG Matt O'Dwyer (PUP-pectoral).|
|Out||CB Charles Tillman (knee); S Bobby Gray (groin).||DL Ellis Wyms (shoulder); WR Joey Galloway (groin).|
|Doubtful||DE Adewale Ogunleye (leg).||WR Charles Lee (knee).|
|Questionable||DT Alfonso Boone (knee); OG Ruben Brown (knee); FB Bryan Johnson (knee).||FB Greg Comella (chest); QB Chris Simms (shoulder).|
|Probable||LB Brian Urlacher (hamstring); C Olin Kreutz (elbow).||DT Anthony McFarland (groin); S Dwight Smith (knee).|
The Bears (1-4) travel to Tampa Bay (1-5) to do battle with the Buccaneers. Tampa lost a thrilling Monday night game 28-21 to the Rams, while the Bears are coming off a disappointing 13-10 loss in which their only touchdown was on an interception return. Let's take a closer look at the injuries affecting these teams and the matchups.
Jonathan Quinn is expected to make his third start after Rex Grossman's season-ending knee injury. After two dismal performances, practice reps have increased for rookie Craig Krenzel to ramp him up in case a move needs to be made. The Bears' offense has generated 12 points in Quinn's two starts. Guard Ruben Brown is hoping to return after missing last week's game following minor knee surgery. Steve Edwards played well in his place. Offensive tackle Marc Colombo returned to practice this week after being placed on the physically unable to play (PUP) list. Colombo has missed roughly two seasons following a terrible knee injury during his rookie year. It will be important to keep an eye on Colombo. The Bears invested a late first round draft pick on him, and he has the potential to be a starter at either tackle. The severity of his injury, and the slow progress he has made in his rehabilitation lead many to believe his career could come to an end if this comeback fails. If he does make it back, he'll be activated, which means a roster move will need to be made. Guard Rex Tucker returned to practice during the bye week after recovering from an elbow dislocation suffered during the preseason. He was inactive for last week's game, but figures to factor in the Bears' plans going forward.
Defensive end/tackle Ellis Wyms is recovering from shoulder and back injuries and has been ruled out. The Bucs' line is very good at generating pass rush pressure without blitzing, and Simeon Rice (2 sacks) hasn't yet gotten hot. He will, and it might be this Sunday if Quinn cannot get rid of the ball more quickly. To do that, he'll need to do a better job of recognizing blitz packages and protections in his pre and post snap read.
The Bears can continue to expect to see blitzes until Quinn shows he can handle them. Since Quinn has not shown any propensity to complete even the most routine of passes, there is no reason why they shouldn't run the ball an inordinately high percentage of the time. This is especially true since their run blocking, and Thomas Jones' running have been their most effective offensive weapons. Additionally, backup running back Anthony Thomas could be used utilized to spell Jones if the load is too heavy to carry. Forty rushing attempts should be a goal they set forth. Anything less from Shea would be stubborn.
Adewale Ogunleye's ligament damage in his ankle means Michael Haynes will get the start at defensive end. Ogunleye was initially listed as questionable, but has been downgraded to doubtful. Haynes has experience playing on both sides, but prefers the right, where Alex Brown had his best game of the season last week. Haynes will be working against veteran tackle Todd Steussie. Cornerback Jerry Azumah (neck) returned to the field last week as a nickel back and took an interception for a touchdown. He is expected to get the start at cornerback and return kickoffs this week. In the meantime, rookie Nathan Vasher has shined at one corner opposite veteran R.W. McQuarters. Charles Tillman is still several weeks away from a return. Strong safety Bobby Gray suffered a badly strained groin last week, and his position in sub packages is likely to be taken by Cameron Worrell. Todd Johnson will start again at free safety for Mike Brown, who ruptured his Achilles a month ago. Johnson has struggled with assignments, but is a good player who should turn the corner in time. Ian Scott has played well at defensive tackle since Alfonso Boone got hurt (knee). Boone should be ready to return soon. The Bears will continue to rotate bodies through the tackle position.
Tampa Bay lost halfback Charlie Garner (knee) for the season. Fortunately they had Michael Pittman ready to come back from a suspension in the next game. Fullback Mike Alstott suffered a hip pointer in their last game but is expected to play. Wide receiver Joe Jurevicius (back) returns after missing every game of this season. He's a welcome sight, especially with Joey Galloway suffering from a severely strained groin and Charles Lee hobbled. After Brad Johnson was benched in favor of Chris Simms, Simms was injured and replaced by Brian Griese. Griese has played extremely well, completing over 70 percent of his passes. He is expected to keep the starting job from this point forward. Tight end Rickey Dudley was lost for the season, but Ken Dilger and Dave Moore keep Tampa solid at the position.
The Bucs like to throw to their backs and tight ends quite a bit. This puts extra pressure on Bear linebackers and strong safety Mike Green. Now that Urlacher has returned from his hamstring injury, this is the current strength of the Bear defense. Look for Tampa to set the hook with the Bears by running the ball to set up play action. Expect the Bears to pick their spots with the blitz, and to disguise coverages to trick Griese, since he hasn't been taking starting reps in Tampa's offense for very long.