Injury Report: Bears vs. Vikings

The Bears (9-2) return home after a three-game road trip to host the Vikings (5-6). Chicago won on the road at the Giants and Jets but fell 17-13 last week in a hard-hitting defensive struggle against the Patriots. Minnesota rebounded to end a four-game losing streak by outlasting the Cardinals 31-26. Let's take a closer look at the injuries and how they'll impact this week's matchup.

BEARS - S Mike Brown (foot), WR Airese Currie (foot), DT Dusty Dvoracek (foot), FB Bryan Johnson (leg), S Brandon McGowan (Achilles), Jamar Williams (shoulder)
VIKINGS- CB Dovonte Edwards (arm), RB Joey Goodspeed (knee), LB Chad Greenway (knee), S Tank Williams (knee), DE Erasmus James (knee), FB Tony Richardson (arm/thumb), LB Jason Glenn (knee)

BEARS - none
VIKINGS - none

BEARS - LB Leon Joe (hamstring)
VIKINGS - none

BEARS - S Todd Johnson (ankle)
VIKINGS - DT Pat Williams (knee), TE Jermaine Wiggins (knee), RB Chester Taylor (wrist), OT Marcus Johnson (foot), OG Steve Hutchinson (knee), OG Artis Hicks (ankle), CB Cedric Griffin (neck)

BEARS - RB Thomas Jones (groin)
VIKINGS - WR Marcus Robinson (ankle), LB Napoleon Harris (wrist), S Dwight Smith (shoulder)

Bears Offense vs. Vikings Defense
Running back Thomas Jones is nursing a sore groin but hasn't missed any playing time. He's on the verge of surpassing the 1,000-yard milestone for the second season in a row. Second year running back Cedric Benson has been coming on in recent weeks. His performances have earned him more playing time. Wide receivers Mark Bradley (ankle, knee) and Bernard Berrian (ribs) should be back to full strength at the same time. Injuries had slowed them down at different points of the season. The Bears are looking forward to having both deep threats available and healthy.

The battles between Bears center Olin Kreutz and Minnesota nose guard Pat Williams have been classics. Williams is hobbled by a knee injury that severely limited his play last week. Under tackle Kevin Williams (5 sacks) is Minnesota's best pass-rusher and will challenge guards Ruben Brown and Roberto Garza. Cornerback Cedric Griffin (neck) is questionable. Fred Smoot will likely see plenty of action if Griffin is limited.

The Bears ground game was up to the challenge last week in New England, where they picked up 153 rushing yards. They now face a Minnesota defense holding opponents to only 57 rushing yards per game. The other battle will be in the air, where Rex Grossman has had a hand in 15 turnovers the last six games. He's going to face a pass defense allowing close to 250 yards per contest. There's no reason why opposing defenses should stop blitzing Grossman. Expect to see more of the same from Minnesota. Look for the Bears to continue their balanced attack. This will be an excellent opportunity to work on more draws and screens to catch the blitzing Vikings off-guard.

Bears Defense vs. Vikings Offense
Cornerback Ricky Manning Jr. returns after missing last week's game to a suspension. Manning is the Bears' leader in interceptions (tied for four with Charles Tillman) and serves as the top nickel defender. Safety Todd Johnson twisted an ankle last week shortly after forcing a turnover. Chris Harris is likely to see action regardless of Johnson's status. Overall, the Bears are close to full strength on defense.

The Vikings offensive line has been battling injuries. On the right side, guard Artis Hicks (ankle) and tackle Marcus Johnson (foot) were replaced by Jason Whittle and Mike Rosenthal last week. Left guard Steve Hutchinson joins them on the report with a sore knee. The Vikings have allowed 27 sacks. The Bears' pass rush has been very quiet over the last month. The injury matchups favor defensive tackle Tommie Harris and defensive end Adewale Ogunleye to return to their dominant early-season form. Tight end Jermaine Wiggins is slowed by a knee injury. Jim Kleinsasser will see action regardless of Wiggins's status. He's one of the best blocking tight ends in the league. Fullback Tony Richardson was recently lost for the season. Tight end Jeff Dugan is seeing action in his place.

Minnesota's offense is based on the running of Chester Taylor and a controlled passing attack with Brad Johnson. Expect the Bears to put pressure on Johnson using a variety of blitzes and stunts against a banged-up line to force interceptions. Minnesota will test the ability of the Bears linebackers to cover passes to running backs and tight ends.

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