Injury Report Analysis: Week 6

Bear Report takes a closer look at the injury report and how it could affect Sunday's outcome. The Midway Monsters are getting healthier on defense but will still be without some key contributors, but the Vikings are in pretty good shape coming off their bye week.

WEEK 6 INJURY REPORT

Chicago Bears Injury Status
CB Nathan Vasher Groin Doubtful
DT Darwin Walker Knee Doubtful
WR Bernard Berrian Toe Questionable
LB Lance Briggs Hamstring Questionable
OT John Tait Ankle Questionable
CB Charles Tillman Ankle Questionable
LB Brendon Ayanbadejo Foot Probable
DT Tommie Harris Knee Probable
LB Brian Urlacher Back Probable

Minnesota Vikings Injury Status
DE Erasmus James Shoulder Questionable
LB Ben Leber Ribs Questionable
QB Tarvaris Jackson Groin Probable
S Dwight Smith Hamstring Probable

For the Bears, Vasher, Walker, Briggs, Tillman, and Urlacher did not take part in practice Friday. Berrian, Tait, Ayanbadejo, and Harris participated in all drills and should be active Sunday against Minnesota.

As for the Vikings, the entire 53-man roster was available for practice Friday. James, Leber, and Jackson were only to participate on a limited basis, but Smith, who was just added to the injury report Friday, took part in all drills and will be suiting up Sunday barring something unforeseen.

Bears on Offense
The Monsters of the Midway were much more consistent moving the ball against Green Bay than they were the previous week in Detroit, and the play-calling of offensive coordinator Ron Turner was no doubt a factor. QB Brian Griese attempted only 25 passes versus 52 the week before, and RB Cedric Benson had 27 attempts on the ground as opposed to only 15 just seven days earlier. The tight end combination of veteran Desmond Clark and rookie Greg Olsen proved to be quite effective in the passing attack, and they'll probably have to come up with another productive effort because Berrian – leading the Bears with 25 catches in five games – could be limited since a toe ailment can be devastating for a speed receiver.


WR Bernard Berrian
M. Spencer Green/AP Images

The Vikings are tops in the NFL stopping the run and surrender just 62 yards per game, so many teams have abandoned the ground game altogether and thrown the ball liberally against their less-than-stellar 30th-ranked pass defense. If Leber is unable to go, that should be good news for both Clark and Olsen since the strong side linebacker draws the tight end in coverage quite frequently in Minnesota's Cover-2 scheme. James has been an enormous disappointment since being taken 18th-overall in the 2005 NFL Draft, but it won't matter much if he can't play because he's well behind starters Kenechi Udeze and Ray Edwards on the depth chart anyway.

Look for the Bears to continue their commitment to Benson and the running game early in the ballgame, but Turner isn't going to bang his head against a brick wall all day long. If Benson can't get it going, and all indicators suggest he won't since he's gotten off to a slow start and the Vikings sell out to stop the run every week, Griese should be able to take advantage of the play-action pass with Clark and Olsen. WR Mark Bradley could get an extended look if Berrian's toe prevents him from being the deep threat he usually is, and he'll have a distinct size advantage over both Minnesota cornerbacks – tackling machine Antoine Winfield and second-year pro Cedric Griffin.

Bears on Defense
Briggs was inactive in Week 4 but came back strong in Week 5, registering a career-high 19 tackles against the Packers and continuing his march toward free-agent gold this coming offseason. Vasher is still a ways away from being healthy enough to play and hasn't even started running yet on that sore groin, but the Bears need him to return very badly because converted safety Danieal Manning is not playing well at cornerback. Walker has been banged up all year and could use a week off to heal, meaning Anthony Adams and Israel Idonije will once again see significant snaps alongside the two-time Pro Bowler Harris at defensive tackle.


DT Darwin Walker
Nam Y. Huh/AP Images

As for the Vikings, Jackson will most likely get the start under center after the team went 0-2 with Kelly Holcomb at the controls while Jackson was out of the lineup with a groin problem. The Bears are probably happy to see Jackson fully healed and ready to go considering he threw four interceptions against a bad Detroit secondary the last time he suited up in Week 2. He is a very good athlete and has a cannon attached to his right shoulder, but his propensity for turnovers could be deadly facing a defense as opportunistic as the Midway Monsters are.

Expect the Bears to put eight and nine men in the box with regularity in an effort to shut down sensational rookie Adrian Peterson on the ground and force Jackson to beat them with his arm. Defensive coordinator Bob Babich will likely feature a generous supply of blitz packages as well in order to confuse the young signal-caller and force him into some mistakes. Peterson has already proven to be quite good both running the football and catching it out of the backfield, but he hasn't seen the kind of lateral speed at the linebacker position that Briggs and Urlacher possess.

John Crist is the Editor in Chief of BearReport.com and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.


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