Injury Report Analysis: Week 15

The Chicago Bears look to be relatively healthy this late in the year, although there are a handful of key contributors who could be limited Thursday night. Can they suck it up for prime time? Michael Nudo breaks down all the bumps and bruises by taking a closer look at Wednesday's final injury report.

Chicago Bears

Player Injury Status
WR Marty Booker Ribs Doubtful
FB Jason McKie Quadriceps Doubtful
RB Garrett Wolfe Hamstring Doubtful
TE Desmond Clark Hamstring Probable
DT Tommie Harris Knee Probable

New Orleans Saints

Player Injury Status
OT Jammal Brown Ankle OUT
S Roman Harper Shoulder Probable
RB Deuce McAllister Not Injury Related Probable

Bears Offense vs. Saints Defense
Kyle Orton had a bounce-back game Sunday after struggling through the first three games following his ankle injury. Fullback Jason McKie (quadriceps) missed the last two games in favor of Jason Davis. Wide receiver Marty Booker returned Sunday after missing time with a knee injury. He was welcomed back with a cracked rib against Jacksonville. Desmond Clark suffered a hamstring injury late in the last week of practice but was not limited Sunday. Reserve running back and pint-sized special teams ace Garrett Wolfe suffered a hamstring injury early in the Jacksonville game and is not likely to be ready for the Saints.

FB Jason McKie
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Defensive end Charles Grant (triceps) was lost at the midpoint of the season. Defensive tackle Brian Young was lost in the first half of the year, as well. Starting free safety Kevin Kaesviharn (neck) was placed on injured reserve last week. Cornerback Randall Gay suffered a concussion in Sunday's game. With Aaron Glenn already out for the season, Usama Young is likely to play if Gay cannot return in time. Defensive end Will Smith (pending suspension) is expected to be eligible to play Thursday night, as the case for the diuretic he and others tested positively for is heard. For all the attention paid to Smith, keep your eye on the other end, Bobby McCray. McCray has 6.0 sacks and will line up over John Tait.

New Orleans ranks in the bottom third of the league in almost all relevant defensive statistics. For the Bears to win, they'll need to control the football and the clock. This not only means a heavy dose of rookie Matt Forte, but also a precision passing attack with Orton. Bears receivers have had a case of the drops the last few weeks. If they can get the strong safety to creep up in the box to defend the run, they'll be able to get a good matchup with their tight ends over the middle working against Kaesviharn's replacement, Josh Bullocks. The Saints secondary is banged up. This might be the time for Brandon Lloyd to show the form he displayed during the first month of the season.

Saints Offense vs. Bears Defense
Reggie Bush should be well recovered from a knee injury that forced him to miss four games earlier in the season. As evidence of his health, Bush broke off a 43-yard run last week against the Falcons. Pierre Thomas (4.9 yards per carry and 7 rushing touchdowns) has been a surprise performer rising on the depth chart after Bush's injury and the placement of Aaron Stecker on injured reserve. Deuce McAllister has failed to bounce back after two ACL injuries in previous seasons. He is expected to be eligible to play as the appeal for the StarCaps case drags on. Wide receiver Lance Moore excelled while Marques Colston was out the majority of the first half of the season with a thumb injury. Kick-return specialist Courtney Roby was placed on injured reserve this week. Left tackle Jammal Brown is nursing a knee injury. Alex Brown will get that matchup.

CB Corey Graham
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Corey Graham has been an upgrade at cornerback for Nathan Vasher, who battled thumb and wrist injuries before finally being placed on injured reserve. Anthony Adams and Israel Idonije played well at defensive tackle last week for Dusty Dvoracek (biceps). Dvoracek went on injured reserve this week. Both were needed last week, as Tommie Harris tweaked a hamstring in Sunday's match with Jacksonville. Harris is listed on the injury report, but with a knee issue and not said hamstring. Rookie Marcus Harrison also saw extended snaps.

The Saints have the top passing offense in the NFL. Drew Brees has only been sacked 10 times. Why are they only 7-6? New Orleans is at minus-4 in turnover ratio. The Saints are only 1-5 on the road. While Brees is on a record pace for yardage, he has also thrown 14 interceptions. Overall, he has a 26-14 touchdown-to-interception ratio. That ratio is 10-10 on the road. For the Bears to slow down the Saints offense, they'll need to disrupt the great timing Brees has developed with his receivers. They'll need to get their hands up in the trenches and jam the receivers at the line of scrimmage. This had clearly been a problem for the Bears through the heart of their season. It will be interesting to see what adjustments can be made. If not, this could very quickly get ugly for the defense against a team that put 51 points on the Packers a few weeks ago. Look for the Saints to keep the Bears off balanced by getting the most out Bush and Thomas running the ball and on dumpoffs and screens.

Michael Nudo writes his Injury Report Analysis feature every week exclusively for E-mail him at

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