Injury Report Implications

The Bears (8-3) will host the Green Bay Packers (2-9) Sunday afternoon. Winners of their last seven games, the Bears are one of the hottest teams in the NFL. The Packers haven't lost to the Bears at Soldier Field since 1993. Green Bay has been decimated by injuries and has made some recent lineup changes. They've been competitive, but more often than not have come up short with the game on the line. Let's take a closer look at the injuries and their impact on the game.

StatusBearsPackers
IR/PUP/NFIS Cameron Worrell (IR-shoulder); LB Marcus Reese (IR-shoulder); LB Rod Wilson (IR-knee); CB Alfonso Marshall (PUP-knee); LB Joe Odom (IR-ankle); WR Mark Bradley (IR-knee); WR Airese Currie (IR-hamstring).RB Najeh Davenport (IR-ankle); RB Ahman Green (IR-quadriceps); WR Terrence Murphy (IR-neck); WR Javon Walker (IR-knee); LB Kurt Campbell (IR-knee); CB Jason Horton (IR-shoulder); OG Joe Quinn (NFI); RB Walter Williams (IR-ankle); Wendell Williams (NFI); S Jeremy Thornburg (IR-shoulder).
OutRB Cedric Benson (knee).None.
DoubtfulNone.None.
QuestionableNone.TE Bubba Franks (concussion/spine); RB ReShard Lee (ribs); LB Robert Thomas (quadriceps); DT Corey Williams (calf).
ProbableCB Jerry Azumah (hip); OG Ruben Brown (pectoral); C Olin Kreutz (elbow).None.


BEARS OFFENSE vs. PACKERS DEFENSE

Rookie quarterback Kyle Orton is set to make his 12th start. The injury to Rex Grossman that thrust Orton into the lineup in the preseason is healed enough to return Grossman to practice but as of Thursday he was still listed as third string behind Jeff Blake. Justin Gage will start opposite Muhsin Muhammad at wide receiver. Gage took over after Mark Bradley was lost to a knee injury. He has 11 catches for 113 yards over the last two games. Depth at wide receiver is an issue with rookie Airese Currie being placed on injured reserve. He made it back from foot surgery and then suffered successive hamstring injuries. Bobby Wade has shown a terrible propensity to fumble the ball and has lost the confidence of the coaching staff. Speedy Bernard Berrian is almost ready to return from a thumb injury and could factor in both returns and as a receiver. Eddie Berlin was re-signed and may play a role in multiple receiver sets. Former Packers' draft pick Craig Bragg was signed to the practice squad. Bragg adds depth to the receiver pipeline and also has return skills. Running back Thomas Jones suffered knee and rib injuries earlier in the season, and still wears a brace on his knee. A knee injury to Cedric Benson elevated Adrian Peterson to second string halfback. Peterson has 39 carries for 242 yards (6.2 yards per carry) and 2 touchdowns over the last four weeks. Benson has begun some light running but isn't likely to be active for at least a few more weeks.

Linebacker Robert Thomas (quadriceps) is listed as questionable but has begun practicing and may be upgraded by Sunday. Paris Lenon has played an increased role as a backup. Defensive tackle Corey Williams is nursing a calf injury that will reduce his reps in the rotation, increasing playing time for Colin Cole. Cole has been a pleasant surprise, and may get the start ahead of Cullen Jenkins. Depth at safety is also an issue, with Jeremy Thornburg being placed on injured reserve this week. Todd Franz, who spent time in Green Bay's training camp, was signed to take his place.

The Bears have run the ball well for most of the season, and are not likely to alter their game plan against a defense allowing 121 rushing yards per game. The Packers will try to bottle up Jones by keeping an extra safety near the line and utilizing run blitzes. They'd prefer to force Orton to air it out against a defense that has 28 sacks. Look for them to blitz on both running and passing downs. The Bears hit a screen pass for big yardage to Jones last week. Look for the Bears to pick a few spots to try this against the Packers.


BEARS DEFENSE vs. PACKERS OFFENSE

The Bears' defense has been relatively healthy all season. The only issues they've had have been with a nagging hip injury for cornerback Jerry Azumah and a sprained ankle for Adewale Ogunleye. Azumah hasn't been fully himself. Ogunleye's ankle slowed him down earlier this year, but he has returned to form, registering five sacks over the last two weeks. He'll face right tackle Mark Tauscher. The Packers have only allowed 14 sacks all season. A good deal of that credit should also go to quarterback Brett Favre for getting the ball out quickly to his receivers.

Green Bay lost Ahman Green and Najeh Davenport, leaving a gaping hole at running back. Green was not only a terrific runner, but an excellent pass receiver. They eventually turned to Samkon Gado, who has played surprisingly well. However, Gado has lost four fumbles. Tony Fisher is likely to see action in addition to Gado. Northwestern's Noah Herron was signed this week for depth. The loss of wide receiver Javon Walker to a knee injury meant Robert Ferguson would be given a starting role. Ferguson has been dinged up as well (knee). Antonio Chatman has seen a good deal of action as a consequence. Red zone target Bubba Franks had a scary moment on Sunday, suffering what was believed to be a spinal injury. The Packers are hopeful he'll return to action soon, possibly even this week. David Martin and Donald Lee will see increased action for Franks. With major losses at wide receiver and running back, it's no wonder Favre has had to force the ball to his receivers. The result has been 19 interceptions through 11 games. The loss of Davenport and rookie wideout Terrence Murphy has impacted kickoff returns. The Packers turned to ReShard Lee who has a rib injury. Chatman or Herron could factor in returns this week.

The Bears have not had to blitz much the past few weeks because their front four has generated a good deal of pressure. That should change this week since Favre has had good protection and moves around well enough to avoid sacks. They'll want to continue the pressure, forcing Favre into adding to his 19 interceptions. Look for pressure to come from the middle, where Green Bay has had some recent changes at guard. Grey Ruegamer is expected to supplant Will Whitticker this week on the right side, and Scott Wells took over for Adrian Klemm a few weeks ago. Green Bay will look to get the ball deep to Donald Driver, and when pressure comes, he'll look to dump it off to his running backs and fullback William Henderson.



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