BEARS - S Mike Brown (foot), WR Airese Currie (foot), DT Dusty Dvoracek (foot), DT Tommie Harris (hamstring), FB Bryan Johnson (leg), S Brandon McGowan (Achilles), Jamar Williams (shoulder)
BUCCANEERS - OG Dan Buenning (knee), WR Michael Clayton (knee), C Andrew Economos (knee), CB Brian Kelly (toe), DE Simeon Rice (shoulder), QB Chris Simms (spleen), OT Kenyatta Walker (knee), TE T.J. Williams (Achilles), OT Chris Colmer (NFI)
BEARS - none
BUCCANEERS - none
BEARS - none
BUCCANEERS - none
BEARS - S Todd Johnson (ankle), CB Nathan Vasher (hamstring), RB Thomas Jones (ankle), OT John Tait (ankle), LB Leon Joe (hamstring)
BUCCANEERS - LB Shelton Quarles (knee/ankle), DT Ellis Wyms (ankle), CB Juran Bolden (quadriceps)
BEARS - none
BUCCANEERS - CB Phillip Buchanon (groin)
Running back Thomas Jones appeared to suffer a minor ankle injury in last week's game against the Rams. Cedric Benson and Adrian Peterson performed well in spot duty. Benson's performance and playing time have been on the rise over the last month. Left tackle John Tait sprained an ankle during the Monday night game but returned to finish the contest after he had it re-taped.
The loss of elite pass rusher Simeon Rice has taken a toll on the Buccaneers defense. The Chicago-area native was good for 14 sacks last year. DeWayne White has seen increased action since that time. Tampa's defense has only 17 quarterback sacks. The loss of Brian Kelly in the secondary means that Tampa needs to rely more on Jurad Bolden, but he's also banged up. Tampa is allowing 210 passing yards per game.
Tampa Bay's defense is not what it once was, but they still feature linebacker Derrick Brooks and cornerback Ronde Barber. Both players are wise veterans who will pose challenges for a young and developing Bears offense. Look for the Bears to continue their surging rushing attack to set the hook for play-action passes. This could be the week Desmond Clark becomes the target he was in the early part of the season against many of the cover-two schemes the Bears faced. Expect The Buccaneers to do all they can to put pressure on Grossman and see if they can force mistakes.
Bears Defense vs. Buccaneers Offense
Defensive tackle Tommie Harris was lost for the season with a ruptured hamstring. His loss means additional playing time for Ian Scott and Alfonso Boone. It's interesting that Tank Johnson remains over the nose instead of assuming Harris's three-technique position. Johnson's skills might be more similar to those Harris displayed. However, he's gained a comfort level at the nose and is beginning to cause problems for opposing interior linemen, which is leading to double-teams. The Bears have missed the presence of safety Mike Brown. Rookie Danieal Manning had a lapse in coverage early against the Rams that led to a 42-yard completion over the middle. Todd Johnson has been a steadying force in the secondary since that time but has also missed action recently due to injury. If he cannot play, Chris Harris will see additional playing time. Harris is prone to making big plays, both positive and negative. Cornerback Nathan Vasher has been out of the lineup due to a hamstring pull. His absence has allowed Ricky Manning Jr. to step in and play well. The loss of Vasher is felt more in sub packages where rookie special teams standout Devin Hester has been forced into action. He's surprisingly ahead of Dante Wesley on the depth chart.
Second-year running back Carnell Williams has not had an impressive season. His problem may be related to some of the injuries that have occurred around him. Starters Dan Buenning (left guard), Chris Simms (quarterback), Kenyatta Walker (right tackle) and Michael Clayton (wide receiver) were lost to an offense that began the season with plenty of question marks. Sean Mahan and Jeremy Trueblood have had to pick up the slack on the line. They've struggled to open holes but haven't been a disaster in pass protection. Rookie quarterback Bruce Gradkowski has played just well enough to lose. Although he doesn't throw many interceptions, he's only averaging a shade over five yards per pass attempt.
Look for the Bears to play more of a base defense against a Tampa offense that will try to sustain drives by running the ball and throwing short passes to stay out of trouble. The injuries in the Bears secondary are less likely to be exposed by Tampa's receiving corps, which is trying to get by without Clayton.
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