Noots' Notes: Week 15 Injury Analysis

Michael Nudo breaks down the bumps and bruises by taking a close look at Friday's final injury report, as the Chicago Bears take on the Baltimore Ravens in Week 15 at M&T Bank Stadium.

Chicago Bears

Player Injury Status
WR Devin Hester Calf Doubtful
CB Zack Bowman Illness Questionable
DT Tommie Harris Knee Questionable
OT Orlando Pace Groin Questionable
CB Charles Tillman Back Questionable
LB Jamar Williams Ankle Questionable

Baltimore Ravens

Player Injury Status
OT Jared Gaither Foot OUT
DT Brandon McKinney Back OUT
WR Mark Clayton Knee Doubtful
S K.J. Gerard Thigh Questionable
LB Tavares Gooden Groin Questionable
LB Jarret Johnson Knee/Back Questionable
DT Haloti Ngata Ankle Questionable
S Ed Reed Groin/Foot Questionable
TE L.J. Smith Ankle Questionable
WR Kelley Washington Ankle Questionable
C Matt Birk Neck Probable
WR Derrick Mason Finger Probable
LB Terrell Suggs Knee Probable

Bears Offense vs. Ravens Defense
The calf injury that kept Devin Hester out last week allowed unheralded Devin Aromashodu to have a standout game against Green Bay's tough defense. It will be interesting to see how he's utilized this week if Hester's ready to go. It's not a given, however, that Hester will be available. Orlando Pace's groin injury has allowed Chris Williams to switch from right to left tackle, and also for Kevin Shaffer to start on the right side. Pace should be fully ready for Sunday but has been working with the second team. With the playoffs out of the picture, there's no time like the present to plan for the future.

The Ravens welcomed back pass-rushing linebacker Terrell Suggs last week after he had missed the previous three games with a knee injury. They're a different defense when Suggs is putting the heat on opposing quarterbacks. Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed has missed the last few games and has assorted aches and pains (hip, groin, foot). He has three interceptions and three forced fumbles this year. Former Bears linebacker and special-teams standout Brendon Ayanbadejo is on injured reserve. Massive defensive lineman Haloti Ngata has had a hard time getting to practice this week because of a painful ankle injury.

DE Alex Brown
Getty Images: Kevin C. Cox

The Ravens present yet another challenging 3-4 alignment for the Bears. Veteran defensive end Trevor Pryce has thrived in this scheme and will be a key matchup for Shaffer, provided he still gets the start at right tackle. On passing downs, keep an eye out for a 2-4-5 lineup, as well.

Ravens Offense vs. Bears Defense
Wide receiver Mark Clayton has had a hard time getting on the field of late because of a knee injury. Kelley Washington received the start last week. At left tackle, Jared Gaither missed last week's game (foot). Oniel Cousins started. This could prove to be a favorable matchup for defensive end Alex Brown, who is stuck on four sacks. Brown is due for one of his breakout games.

The Bears defense looks to be relatively healthy. Linebacker Jamar Williams showed up on the injury report Wednesday with an ankle injury. Defensive tackle Tommie Harris, who has had knee issues for quite some time, has shown some signs of life over the last few weeks. It will be important for him to finish the season on a high note. With the playoffs out of reach, it will be interesting to see if rookie lineman Jarron Gilbert is active and gets any repetitions of note, and if they're at tackle or end.

Ray Rice is having the kind of season that gives defensive coordinators nightmares. He has amassed 1,693 yards of offense between 1,041 rushing and 652 receiving yards. This will be a huge challenge for the front seven and their ability to maintain gap discipline. Look for the Bears to keep an extra safety in the box more often than usual to keep Rice at bay. If quarterback Joe Flacco is on his game, he will have opportunities to work tight end Todd Heap over the middle.

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Michael Nudo writes his Injury Analysis feature during the season every week for E-mail him at

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