Game Plan: Bears-Titans

There's no debating that the Bears passing game has to improve, but either way it will be the defense that will determine the length of the winning streak.

BEARS GAME PLAN
The Bears realize they must get more production from their passing game, the NFL's worst. Offensive coordinator Terry Shea has threatened to throw more on first down, but he failed last week to open things up. The ground game is strong, which is a priority, but teams have been able to crowd the line of scrimmage against rookie QB Craig Krenzel and Jonathan Quinn before him. Defensively, the Bears have made great strides in improving what was a horrible run defense through the first six games. For the last two weeks, the defense has carried the team, and they will have to continue to do that against the Titans, which means controlling second-year running back Chris Brown. When the Bears have stopped the run game the past two weeks, they've been able to put heavy pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

BEARS MATCHUPS TO WATCH
The Bears' improving run defense, which has vaulted from a tie for 29th to 23rd in yards allowed and is 15th in average gain allowed per running play, vs. Titans RB Chris Brown, the No. 3 ground gainer in the AFC.

Bears DRE Alex Brown, the NFC's defensive player of the week, who is coming off a four-sack effort last week, vs. Titans OLT Brad Hopkins.

BEARS INJURY IMPACT
QB Craig Krenzel didn't practice Wednesday because of sore ribs on his left side, but returned to work Thursday and should be able to start Sunday.

Running back Thomas Jones returned to practice for the first time since spraining his big toe on Oct. 31, but he remains questionable. With Anthony Thomas playing well as his replacement, the Bears will not hurry Jones back until he's fully healed.

Defensive tackle Tommie Harris missed practice after he was sent home ill, guard Ruben Brown rested his knees, and tackle Alfonso Boone and cornerback Todd McMillon both sat out with back injuries, but all four returned to work Thursday and are probable and expected to play Sunday.

Defensive end Adewale Ogunleye (lower leg), center Olin Kreutz (elbow), and linebacker Brian Urlacher (hamstring) are also listed as probable, but all four practiced Wednesday and should start. However, Ogunleye sat out practice Thursday.

Safety Bobby Gray (groin) is doubtful, and linebacker Marcus Reese (foot) and cornerback Charles Tillman (knee) are out.

TITANS GAME PLAN
The norm will be the plan. The Titans will look to run Chris Brown as much as possible against the league's 23rd ranked run defense, while mixing in some shots at big pass plays. Defensively they will try to stuff the run and put things on the 31st ranked pass offense while looking to ruffle rookie QB Craig Krenzel. Tennessee doesn't always fare well against inexperienced quarterbacks, but this is a matchup they should win whether Steve McNair or Billy Volek is in the huddle for the Titans.

TITANS MATCHUPS TO WATCH
DT Albert Haynesworth vs. LG Ruben Brown and C Olin Kreutz. Haynesworth is coming off his best game of the year, but the veteran duo in the middle of Chicago's line will be a lot better than the Bengals were.

LT Brad Hopkins vs. RE Alex Brown. Brown caught fire last week against the Giants, with four sacks.

Titans coverage teams vs. KR Jerry Azumah and PR R.W. McQuarters.

TITANS INJURY IMPACT
QB Steve McNair could sit out his third game of the season as his bruised sternum is still bothering him. RB Chris Brown is likely to play through turf toe for the second game in a row. DE Carlos Hall (knee) will be a game time decision, but it appeared midweek he might need one more week off. Lb Rocky Calmus (back/ leg) likely needs more time before returning to action. TE Erron Kinney (calf) who has missed five games, will return against Chicago.


Bear Report Top Stories