Changes on the Horizon

Three position switches could occur by Sunday because of injuries. Running back Thomas Jones has a mild sprain of his right knee, according to Monday's MRI. Offensive left tackle John Tait has a sprained left ankle, and guard Ruben Brown has a partially torn muscle in his chest. Jones has rushed for over 100 yards in the straight games, and Tait and Brown have been instrumental in clearing his path.

Even though first-round draft pick Cedric Benson did not set foot on the field in the fourth quarter after Jones was hurt, he would start ahead of Adrian Peterson, who ran for a key first down on a third-and-19 play after Jones limped off. Benson picked up 6 yards on 5 carries and lost a fumble.

"Cedric is next in the rotation," coach Lovie Smith said. "But I was pleased with what Adrian Peterson did as he came in on that one third-and-19. That was a big play by him. He's a good running back."

Veteran Roberto Garza struggled early after he replaced Brown in the first quarter, but he improved as the afternoon wore on. Garza's facemask penalty nullified a Bears TD and forced them to settle for a field goal later in the drive.

"He did have a rough start," Smith said. "The penalty was a big play on Roberto, but he did come back. He played a lot better at the end and that's normally how it goes. He adjusted well and finished the game strong."

Journeyman John St. Clair replaced Tait after his injury. Smith listed Tait as "day-to-day" and is understandably trying to remain optimistic on that one. The drop-off from Tait to St. Clair, Qasim Mitchell or practice squad player Rob Droege would be precipitous.

A fourth change that could happen this week is at kicker. Like most NFL teams, the Bears prefer not to carry two.

The status of Doug Brien's back injury forced the Bears to go out and sign rookie Robbie Gould, who was 1-for-2 on FG attempts Sunday as a fill-in.

Brien had connected on 81.1 percent of his FG tries before missing 3 of 4 this season and straining a muscle in his back.

"We'll evaluate that and see exactly where Doug is," coach Lovie Smith said. "I was really pleased with what Robbie was able to do. He had good hang-time on his kickoffs, and they only averaged (20.3) yards per return. He has a strong leg."

It remains to be seen if Gould will get a chance to compete for the job when Brien is healthy.

"He was our guy this past week, and he did well," Smith said of Gould. "I'll just kind of take it from there."


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