Injury Report: Bears at Vikings

The Bears (2-0) travel to Minnesota (2-0) Sunday afternoon in an early season showdown between NFC North rivals. New head coach Brad Childress has shaped the Vikings in a mold that should look familiar to the Bears. Let's take a closer look at the health of both squads and its impact on the matchups.

BEARS - DT Dusty Dvoracek (foot), FB Bryan Johnson (leg), S Brandon McGowan (knee)
VIKINGS - CB Dovonte Edwards (arm), RB Joey Goodspeed (knee), LB Chad Greenway (knee), S Tank Williams (knee), DE Erasmus James (knee)

BEARS - none
VIKINGS - none

BEARS - none
VIKINGS - none

BEARS - DE Israel Idonije (ankle), S Cameron Worrell (knee)
VIKINGS - WR Marcus Robinson (hamstring), WR Troy Williamson (shoulder), OG Artis Hicks (shoulder)

BEARS - none
VIKINGS - none

Bears Offense vs. Vikings Defense
The Bears find their offense in healthy condition in many ways leading up to this contest. Rex Grossman is leading a passing attack that's averaging over 10 yards per pass attempt. He has taken advantage of defenses that have sold out to stop the Bears rush offense by tightening down the middle. Speedy wide receiver Bernard Berrian and tight end Desmond Clark have been the main beneficiaries. Mark Bradley's slow return from knee surgery allowed Berrian to stake a strong claim to the starting wideout spot. Offensive coordinator Ron Turner has emphasized balance in run-to-pass ratio with well-timed and executed passes that exploit all areas of the field. Turner has shown patience in sticking with the ground game even though it has not yet been productive.

The recent loss of defensive end Erasmus James (knee) will make things tough for the Vikings to get pressure on Rex Grossman, who has only been sacked once in two games. The Vikings lost promising rookie linebacker Chad Greenway (knee) in the preseason. In spite of this, the Vikings linebackers have prospered. Ben Leber, Napoleon Harris and E.J. Henderson have settled into a scheme very similar to the system the Bears run. All three have found homes after doubt was cast on them in previous campaigns. The Vikings have held their opponents to an average of less than 15 points and under 270 yards per game.

The Bears have attacked opponents the last two weeks with medium-range passes, especially to Clark over the middle against cover-two schemes. Berrian's ability to get deep has opened the middle up for Clark. Expect the Bears to keep a good balance of run to pass, in spite of the challenge stout defensive tackle Pat Williams provides in the middle. His matchups with center Olin Kreutz dating back to Williams's days in Buffalo have been memorable.

Bears Defense vs. Vikings Offense
Linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer (concussion) sat out last week's game. Brendon Ayanbadejo stepped in, and the defense didn't suffer. Hillenmeyer is expected to return to the lineup this Sunday. Rookie free safety Danieal Manning has passed Chris Harris on the depth chart and will get the start. Harris's physical skills might be more suited to backing up strong safety Mike Brown. Reserve defensive end Israel Idonije has had a difficult time returning from an injured ankle. His loss has been rookie Mark Anderson's gain. Anderson has 1.5 sacks in very limited action rotating in for starters Adewale Ogunleye and Alex Brown. Defensive tackle Ian Scott had minor knee surgery before the season, and may be finally rounding into form.

The Vikings vertical threats are nursing injuries. Former Bear Marcus Robinson (hamstring) and Troy Williamson (shoulder) have game-breaking ability. The Vikings are pleased center Matt Birk has returned to health after missing last season to a hip injury. He anchors the line and is one of the best at his position. The combination of Birk's return and the acquisition of guard Steve Huthinson solidifies the Vikings' line. They'll face off with the aggressive interior of the Bears defense. The rotation of Tommie Harris, Tank Johnson, Ian Scott and Alfonso Boone have caused quite a bit of havoc on opposing offenses over the last two weeks. Minnesota has also reinforced their backfield to support the run. Fullback Tony Richardson and halfback Chester Taylor will allow the Vikings to hammer out tough yardage.

Much like the Bears, the Vikings like to keep good balance between running and passing. A key for the Bears will be to get out to an early lead, forcing the Vikings into predictable passing plays. This will test the Vikings offensive line, which has allowed six sacks thus far. Look for the Vikings to see if they can exploit the inexperience of the Bears rookie safety with play-action deep.

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