Brown Headed in the Right Direction

Lake Forest – The fact that strong safety Mike Brown has been upgraded from doubtful to questionable is more a sign he'll play next week at Green Bay than Sunday against the Falcons.

A calf strain kept Brown from practicing all week, which usually excludes a player from suiting up for a game. However, the Bears are so thin at safety that the guideline could be overlooked.

"I wish I had the time to go into everything Mike does, but I really don't, to be truthful," Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "He'll be the quarterback for the (secondary) to get the guys in the right coverage from time to time. He's a run-support guy. He blitzes. There's quite a bit that he does at the safety position in general."

Even after missing last week's game, Brown is fourth on the team with 89 tackles and third with 3 interceptions.

Chris Harris and Todd Johnson are both out, so it appears Brandon McGowan and Mike Green will start against Atlanta.

The defense will also likely be without another starter. SLB Hunter Hillenmeyer became an observer in practice this week because of a fractured thumb. He played with a cast against the Steelers, but his effectiveness was limited because of the injury.

Leon Joe is expected to get his first career start. While he's more athletic than Hillenmeyer, his inexperience could be exploited going up against Pro Bowl TE Alge Crumpler, who is Atlanta's leading receiver. He has 56 catches for 779 yards and 5 touchdowns.

Offensively FB Bryan Johnson is out with a sore back. Jason McKie will be the only true fullback in uniform. Third string tight end Gabe Reid can line up as a halfback if necessary.

After practicing on Wednesday, G Terrence Metcalf sat out on Thursday and Friday. Even though he's still listed as questionable, it appears that Roberto Garza could get a second straight start because Metcalf's shoulder injury hasn't healed.

Garza's sixth start of the season would be up against his former teammates, but he was apprehensive to talk about how he left Atlanta calling it "just another game".

Cedric Benson will miss his fifth consecutive game as he rehabs from an MCL strain. He did some light work throughout the week, but the depth at running back allows the Bears not to rush Benson back onto the field.

DT Ian Scott (ankle) and RB Adrian Peterson (ill) were both removed from the injury list.

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