WEEK 7 INJURY REPORT
|CB Nathan Vasher||Groin||Doubtful|
|DT Tommie Harris||Knee||Questionable|
|DT Darwin Walker||Knee||Questionable|
|S Brian Dawkins||Neck||Doubtful|
|TE L.J. Smith||Hernia||Doubtful|
|OT William Thomas||Knee||Questionable|
|OG Shawn Andrews||Knee||Probable|
|WR Reggie Brown||Finger||Probable|
|TE Brent Celek||Ankle||Probable|
|OG Todd Herremans||Knee||Probable|
|OT Jon Runyan||Glute||Probable|
|CB Lito Sheppard||Knee||Probable|
|DT Kimo von Oelhoffen||Knee||Probable|
For the Bears, Vasher was the lone member of the 53-man roster who did not practice Friday. Harris and Walker, however, were only able to participate on a limited basis.
As for the Eagles, Smith and Runyan were both held out of practice Friday. Dawkins, Thomas, Andrews, Brown, Celek, Herremans, Sheppard, and Von Oelhoffen were each able to participate in all drills.
Bears on Offense
QB Brian Griese has thrown the ball pretty well since taking over for Rex Grossman as the starter in Week 4, but he's still turning the football over too often despite his relatively gaudy passing statistics. RB Cedric Benson was running the ball quite effectively in the first half against the Vikings and looked up to the challenge of facing the NFL's No. 1 rush defense, yet offensive coordinator Ron Turner got awfully pass-happy in the later stages of the game as Griese put the ball in the air 45 times. While the offensive line has done a better job of keeping Griese on his feet in the pocket, Olin Kreutz and Co. are still not opening enough holes in the ground game and may be forcing Turner's hand in terms of what plays he can call.
RB Cedric Benson
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson has always been aggressive and likes to bring blitzers from every angle seemingly on every play, but this year he's getting most of his sacks from the front four. Trent Cole is a speed specialist and leads the team with 6.0 sacks in five games, and his job is being made much easier because of two very good young defensive tackles, Brodrick Bunkley and Mike Patterson. Dawkins is not expected to play and should be replaced in the starting lineup by Quintin Mikell once again, robbing the secondary of its field general and leading playmaker.
Look for the Bears to make better use of the play-action pass, an element of this offense that has been missing lately and was greatly responsible for much of the early-season success from a year ago. And when Benson gets at least 20 attempts, the Bears are 2-0 this season. When he gets 19 or fewer, they're 0-4.
Bears on Defense
The Midway Monsters were bulldozed by Minnesota last week to the tune of a franchise record 311 yards allowed on the ground, and not having DT Darwin Walker lining up next to bruised-and-battered Tommie Harris might have been one of the reasons why. Walker, a career Eagle before this season getting his first chance to face his former club, should return from a sore knee that's been bothering him, but CB Nathan Vasher is still on the shelf and leaves a gigantic hole in the defensive backfield. S Danieal Manning's trial at cornerback appears to be mercifully over, so look for rookie Trumaine McBride to get the start opposite Charles Tillman because the team wants to keep Ricky Manning Jr. on slot receivers in the nickel package at all costs.
DE Mark Anderson
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
The Eagles are pretty beaten up themselves along the offensive line, but LT William Thomas should be back in the starting lineup and will be responsible for keeping high-energy DE Mark Anderson at bay. Thomas' fellow tackle, Jon Runyan, was just added to the injury report Friday afternoon but should start as usual on the right side. Not having TE L.J. Smith to worry about is a break for the Bears since they've had trouble covering tight ends this season, and that means there will be more pressure on receivers Kevin Curtis and Reggie Brown to get open down the field – don't forget about RB Brian Westbrook out of the backfield, who actually leads the team in receptions and can be lethal on screen passes.
Expect the Bears to bring a lot of pressure in order to help protect the youngsters they have in the secondary, plus Donovan McNabb isn't as mobile as he used to be and will give up some sacks. S Adam Archuleta looks like he will retain his starting assignment after getting benched in the second half a week ago, but his spot atop the depth chart is shaky at best. Walker must help take some of the attention away from Harris, who was credited with just one assisted tackle versus Minnesota.
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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