Worse than expected

Bears defensive tackle Ted Washington is expected to miss at least 10 weeks with two injuries and could be placed on injured reserve meaning he would sit out the rest of the year.

Washington went down with what looked to be an ankle sprain during Sunday's 14-13 win at Atlanta on Sept. 15.

However, an MRI revealed an undisplaced left fibular fracture above the ankle joint, which is expected to be a four to six week injury. The 12-year NFL veteran also sustained an injury to the Lisfranc ligament of his left foot, which is located on the base of the second toe. He will have surgery Thursday, Sept. 19 by team foot/ankle specialist Dr. Armen Kelikian to insert a stabilizing titanium screw to repair the ligament. Recovery time is expected to be 10 to 12 weeks. Both injuries are unrelated to the surgery Washington had on the same ankle over the offseason.

Head coach Dick Jauron said the length of recovery time could force the Bears to put the defensive tackle on injured reserve in order to open up a roster spot.

"Ten weeks is a long time obviously," Jauron said. "We'd love to be able to keep a spot for him, but we all know how the business goes. Ted understands also how the business goes. We'll just see how this thing plays itself out down the line."

Whether or not Washington goes on IR could depend on how quickly players like Phillip Daniels, R.W. McQuarters and Ahmad Merritt return from injuries.

The 45-man gameday roster means seven players are inactive on Sunday's plus the emergency third quarterback. At this point the Bears have four players in Washington, Daniels, McQuarters and Merritt that won't be able to play for weeks, but are still taking up roster space. That leaves the Bears with little flexibility on gameday.

For example, James Williams is listed as questionable for Sunday's game with a hip injury but the veteran will likely play because he wants to keep his consecutive game streak, which is currently at 120, alive.

"I know that Big Cat will do everything he can to play," Jauron said. "He's already told us he's going to play. That's his mind. We've got to see how the body comes along, but I know if he wants to heal that badly that it will help him feel better anyway. We'll have to see how he feels tomorrow and then Friday and then make a decision."

There is good chance Williams would start the game and if can't continue then Marc Colombo would replace him. However, the Bears would likely carry a fourth tackle incase either Colombo or left tackle Bernard Robertson go down with an injury. Mike Gandy will likely take Washington's spot on the gameday roster, but if any other Bears go down then chances of Washington staying off injured reserve are slim.

Jauron said he made it clear to Washington there was no guarantee the team could keep him on the squad.

"We say, listen, we would like to be able to do this, we would like to keep our options open here, but depending on what occurs down the road, we may not be able to do that," Jauron said. "We just don't know what will occur down the road. Hopefully we'll get well, everybody will get well and we won't go through any more of these things. But I think they have to know that there's a likelihood that we can't keep him active the whole year."

Alfonso Boone will start for Washington with backups Christian Peter and Joe Tafoya becoming increasingly important. Boone did a solid job against the Falcons forcing a game changing fumble.

Defensive coordinator Greg Blache said what the Bears lose in size they pick up in Speed with Boone.

"We won't be as big, but we'll be a little bit quicker," Blache said. "As I call the game I have to realize who we have and what we have and try to do things to allow Booney to excel and do some things that he's capable of doing, where as Ted's more of the big, solid guy inside."

SIDELINED STARTERS: The addition of defensive tackle Ted Washington to the injury report marks the third defensive starter to be sidelined this season. In 2001, the Bears had one defensive starter miss one game due to injury (Walt Harris, ankle, vs. Jacksonville). Washington had started 119 consecutive games dating back to 1995, his first season in Buffalo.

OWN PROBLEMS: The Saints have some injury problems of their own, especially in their secondary. New Orleans pass defense is ranked 27th and could be worse come Sunday with starter Fred Thomas listed as doubtful and nickel back Keyuo Craver out with a knee injury, while defensive end Darren Howard is questionable.

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