Writing on the Wall for Green

Lake Forest - In a not so subtle move, the Bears sent Mike Green a message on Wednesday that his time in Chicago is coming to an end.

When Chris Harris left the game against the Packers in the first quarter with an MCL sprain, Green replaced the rookie. The reverse took place following the season opener at Washington.

Green was flagged for a pass interference call that negated a Nathan Vasher interception vs. the Redskins and was benched in favor of Harris a week later.

Against the Packers, Green had an eerily similar play in which he was again called for pass inference. The Bears appear to have had enough and will start Todd Johnson along side Mike Brown Sunday at Pittsburgh.

Head coach Lovie Smith tried to be politically correct about his decision to start Johnson over Green.

"Both are good football players. Both have played for us. Both have started for us," Smith said. "We feel like it's going to be a physical football game this week, Todd is probably a little bit better in run support. But again both will play. There are a couple packages where we have three safeties in the game, so as far as who's the starter and who's not both guys will play quite a bit for us."

Green has never been a bad guy in the locker room, but the decision seemed to hurt the six-year veteran.

"It was surprising to me but that's what they want to do," Green said. "I've just got to play my role, do whatever I can.

"Sometimes stuff like this happens. You've just got to put it all behind you and play your game and when you do get the opportunity you've got to make something happen."

Green came into the league as "Mr. Irrelevant" and worked his way up the depth chart. He started 40 games for the Bears over the previous three seasons, but with only three interceptions. When the Bears had 11 starters due to hit some form of free agency following the 2001 campaign, he replaced Tony Parrish.

Green has three years left on a five-year $10 million deal he received in 2003. The base salary of $1.385 will be too much for a good special teams player that appears to have lost the confidence of the coaching staff. His cap hit would be a non-factor because his base pay was raised during the second half of 2003.

The only thing Green has going for him is his versatility. He can play both safety spots as well as cornerback. Considering Jerry Azumah will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, the Bears will likely be looking for help at corner. If Green is cut or traded there would be two holes to fill.

With 10 of 11 defensive starters tied up for next season and Hunter Hillenmeyer only a restricted free agent, the Bears can afford to allocate some money in free agency or use a draft pick to upgrade the depth at the position.

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