Injury Report: Bears at Giants

The Bears (7-1) travel to the Meadowlands to face the New York Giants (6-2) on Sunday night. The Bears are coming off their first loss of the year at the hands of the Dolphins, while the Giants narrowly escaped the Texans. Both teams are starting to pile up bodies on the injury list. Let's take a closer look at those injuries and how they'll impact this week's matchup.

IR/PUP/NFI
BEARS - S Mike Brown (foot), WR Airese Currie (foot), DT Dusty Dvoracek (foot), FB Bryan Johnson (leg), S Brandon McGowan (Achilles), Jamar Williams (shoulder)
GIANTS - LB LaVar Arrington (Achilles), OL Lewis Kelly (foot), OG Matt Lentz (elbow), CB E.J. Underwood (shoulder), RB Ryan Grant (hand)

OUT
BEARS - none
GIANTS - WR Amani Toomer (knee), DE Michael Strahan (foot)

DOUBTFUL
BEARS - WR Bernard Berrian (ribs)
GIANTS - DE Osi Umenyiora (hip)

QUESTIONABLE
BEARS - LB Brian Urlacher (toe), CB Dante Wesley (knee)
GIANTS - LB Brandon Short (quadriceps), DE Justin Tuck (foot), WR Plaxico Burress (back spasms), LB Carlos Emmons (groin), CB Sam Madison (hamstring), WR Sinorice Moss (quadriceps)

PROBABLE
BEARS - WR Muhsin Muhammad (knee)
GIANTS - FB Jim Finn (knee)

Bears Offense vs. Giants Defense
Wide receiver Bernard Berrian sustained a rib injury in the opening moments of last week's game. Berrian has emerged as Rex Grossman's deep threat. Justin Gage replaced Berrian and fumbled away a key drive early in the second half of last week's contest. Mark Bradley didn't appear on last week's injury report but was a game day inactive. If Bradley has recovered fully from last year's season-ending knee surgery, he'll be the best bet to provide deep-strike productivity. The dark horse would be slot receiver Rashied Davis. The former Arena Football League star has been a pleasant surprise with big plays and possesses excellent downfield speed. It might only be a matter of deciding where to utilize that speed. The Bears will need to determine if it's best to keep him in the slot or move him outside.

A key to New York's defense is the pressure their ends apply. Osi Umenyiora and Michael Strahan combined for 26 sacks last season. Both are struggling to return from injury. Rookie Mathias Kiwanuka has stepped in at right defensive end the last two weeks and recorded a sack in each game (Tampa and Houston). Kiwanuka is expected to get the call on the right side and face John Tait, who had a rough time with Jason Taylor against Miami. Provided he's healthy enough to go, Justin Tuck (foot) would likely see action on the left side against Fred Miller, who allowed a sack last week. Provided the line can step up, the linebackers are extremely thin as well. Brandon Short (quadriceps) and Carlos Emmons (groin) are questionable.

Rex Grossman has struggled in two of the last three games and now must face a New York Giants team without his best deep threat. The Giants will see on film that putting pressure on Grossman is the key to getting him off his game. Expect lots of pressure to come his way. The best thing the Bears can do is provide a heavy dose of Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson against a decimated New York front seven, mixing in some draws and screens while also taking more of the medium-range passes instead of trying to hit home runs with every throw.

Bears Defense vs. Giants Offense
Middle linebacker Brian Urlacher went down in a heap at the end last week's game. In the pile, his foot was tangled badly. Surprisingly, he escaped with only a sprained big toe. If the injury prevents him from playing, strongside linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer would step into his spot in the middle. Brendon Ayanbadejo would be the likely replacement on the strong side for Hillenmeyer since Leon Joe usually backs up the weak side. Strong safety Todd Johnson will be starting his third game since Mike Brown was lost for the season to a foot injury. In the previous two games, the Bears have allowed 291 rushing yards on 53 carries (5.5 yards per carry).

New York's wide receiver corps are in dreadful shape. Amani Toomer's season ended when an MRI revealed a partially torn knee ligament. He's officially listed as out but is expected to land on injured reserve shortly. Toomer was the team's leading receiver and has been a steady player for them over the last 10 years. Exacerbating the problem are the back spasms Plaxico Burress has been battling. Tim Carter, David Tyree and Sinorice Moss will need to pick up the slack. The Giants offense is led by Tiki Barber (830 rushing yards), the NFL's leading rusher. Since Kurt Warner's departure a few years ago, the Giants have done an excellent job of keeping Eli Manning upright. The Bears defense may be losing its teeth. They have only three sacks in the previous three games.

Look for the Giants to utilize a balanced attack that seeks to capitalize on breakdowns in the Bears' gap scheme. Manning has been unusually quiet the last three weeks and may be on the verge of a breakout performance. With all the injuries to his receivers, he'll need to depend more heavily on tight end Jeremy Shockey and the running backs. Look for the Bears to return the gap discipline they've lost in recent weeks to stop the run and force Manning to work with his thinned-out receiving corps.


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