Berrian Under the Radar

Lake Forest – With all the attention on Rex Grossman, he's going to need someone to get the ball to and Bernard Berrian seems to have built a deep connection with the quarterback.

Considering how well the Panthers know Muhsin Muhammad, who spent nine years in Carolina, he will get their full attention. Justin Gage had his best game of the year in the first meeting with the Panthers with 7 receptions for 81 yards.

The unknown factor to Carolina will be Berrian. He missed the matchup in November coming off thumb surgery.

Since returning to the lineup, Berrian has started to make an impact. He and Grossman have worked together for two seasons, but with both finally healthy they're getting a chance to show what they can do. In Grossman's six quarters of action, Berrian had 4 catches for 101 yards.

"He's been huge," Grossman said. "He stretches the field, not that Moose and Justin are slow, but he's extremely fast and he's something that the defense is going to have to respect his speed. It's another added dimension."

Berrian's 18.9-yard average per catch is by far the best on the team. While he will not be Grossman's primary target against the Panthers, he could make Carolina pay for stacking the line of scrimmage in an attempt to stop the ground game.

"Having a deep threat helps out the offense a whole lot cause you can't stack so many people in the box and it enables the offense to do a whole lot more," Berrian said.

Thomas Jones put up more than 1,300 yards on the ground despite having to face eight and sometimes nine man fronts all season. The Panthers game plan against the Bears will be much the same as it was against the Giants. Stop the run and force a young quarterback to make plays against one-on-one coverage.

"We're going to mix it up and get into a rhythm and I think that's what the Giants didn't do," Grossman said. "They had a lot of three-and-outs, the turnovers came on first and second down of a series. They only had 35 plays so they couldn't get into a rhythm."

The Bears could try to trap Carolina by going opposite of their tendencies with Berrian. With only 13 receptions this season, there isn't a lot of tape for the opposing defense to study on Berrian. There are a few highlight grabs down field, so the Panthers secondary may overcompensate for his speed and that's where the six-foot1, 180-pounder can prove his versatility as a receiver.

"All they see is deep ball, deep ball, deep ball so they're going to be probably backing out a little bit more so you get a lot more chances to run shorter stuff," Berrian said.

With Berrian's speed, a quick slant and a missed tackle could go a long way.


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