Pass-Happy Bears vs. Wounded 'D'

Chicago passes the ball as much as any team in the league while Green Bay's beleaguered defense is limping with injuries to four stalwarts. That and more as both teams began preparations for Sunday's rivalry game at Soldier Field.

The Green Bay Packers will face the pass-happy Chicago Bears on Sunday with a banged-up pass defense.

Not only will they not have Nick Collins, who is out for the season with a neck injury, but cornerback Charles Woodson and linebacker Clay Matthews were held out of Wednesday's practice with foot and quad injuries, respectively.

"I anticipate them both to play," coach Mike McCarthy said after practice, noting Woodson's issue is the same he's been dealing with for the last couple of seasons.

For one bit of good news, Pro Bowl cornerback Tramon Williams returned to practice — he was listed as limited participation — after missing Sunday's game at Carolina with a bruised shoulder sustained in the Week 1 game against New Orleans.

"He had a smile on his face," McCarthy said. "He flew around. We'll see how he responds."

The Packers' pass defense ranks last in the league after back-to-back 400-yard outputs by Drew Brees and Cam Newton. Given the Bears' offensive approach, there's little reason to believe quarterback Jay Cutler and offensive coordinator Mike Martz won't go on the attack from the start. In two games, Cutler has thrown 77 passes and been sacked 11 times. Those 44 attempts per game are tied for fifth-most in the league. Meanwhile, the running backs have gotten just 37 carries. All told, the Bears have dropped back to pass on 69.3 percent of their snaps.

"It's just two games," McCarthy said, trying to deflect the criticism from his pass defense. "We're playing a common opponent as opposed to last week being an uncommon opponent. Those are all variables that you take into account. We'll have Tramon back, as it looks. So, we'll game plan accordingly and get our guys ready to play. The efficiency of our whole operation — offense, defense and special teams — we need to pick it up. We've always improved as the season moves on. That's our focus."

Stock in fans' stocking?

The Packers plan to hold a stock sale before the end of the year as long as they get the necessary approvals, with proceeds helping to fund a $143 million renovation that would add 6,600 seats and new videoboards.

"It requires NFL approval, and we are hopeful to receive that by the end of October," team spokesman Aaron Popkey told the Green Bay Press-Gazette.

The franchise has held four stock sales, the last of which sold shares at $200 each in 1997-98 and generated $24 million. Shares this time would cost at least $200.

Packers injury report

Out — S Nick Collins (neck); DE Mike Neal (knee); LB Frank Zombo (shoulder). Did not participate — LB Clay Matthews (quad); CB Charles Woodson (foot). Limited — T Chad Clifton (knee); CB Davon House (ankle); DE Ryan Pickett (foot); LB Vic So'oto (back); CB Tramon Williams (shoulder). Full — TE Jermichael Finley (ankle); RB Alex Green (Achilles).

"Frank's last X-ray was very positive," McCarthy said of Zombo. "He's making progress. Just as we anticipated, with anything that Frank Zombo goes through, particularly in injuries, it'll be sooner than later. So, Dr. Pat McKenzie felt very good about what he was able to see so far. He's making progress."

Bears injury report

Did not participate — WR Earl Bennett (chest); T Gabe Carimi (knee); S Major Wright (head/neck). Limited — RB Marion Barber (calf); S Chris Harris (hamstring); G Lance Louis (ankle); WR Roy Williams (groin).

Carimi, the All-American from Wisconsin, was the Bears' first-round pick and opened the first two games at right tackle.

"Gabe Carimi was playing excellent football before he got hurt," coach Lovie Smith said. "Whenever you put a rookie in the lineup and you were getting the production you were getting, you have to be excited about that. But nobody wants to hear about injuries or anything like that. We feel good about the offensive line we'll put on the field this week."

Four-point stance

— With Chastin West officially a part of the Jacksonville Jaguars' roster, the Packers filled the void on their practice squad by adding defensive lineman Johnny Jones. Jones (6-4, 310) started 16 games for Marshall — 11 as a sophomore — and spent training camp with the Dolphins as an undrafted free agent. He tried out for the Packers two weeks ago, according to a source.

— Soldier Field is renowned for having the worst natural-grass field in the NFC. "We're fortunate enough to play there earlier in the season," Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. "In 2008 down there, it was negative-15 and the turf was in absolute terrible shape. I contemplated wearing basketball shoes on it. If you go back one year, in 2007, when the wind was blowing like 50 miles an hour, that turf in pregame warmups was the worse I've ever seen. But that being said, early in the season, it's not as bad."

— In Week 1, Fox ran some "headlines" from Chicago newspapers blasting Cutler in the wake of the knee injury that knocked him out of the NFC Championship Game. Turns out, those papers never ran those headlines. In last week's loss at New Orleans, Fox's cameras caught Cutler stewing during a lopsided loss.

"This goes back to Fox and they're going to show me, at times, when it's good for them," Cutler said in a conference call. "You look at any quarterback in the league and you put the camera on them after a sack or interception, I'm sure you'll get much of the same reaction. You can pinpoint any point in the game, sometimes I'm just going to be sitting there minding my own business very calm, so if you want to write about certain instances in the game, go ahead."

— Dallas' Tony Romo was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week; Rodgers was nominated. New Orleans' Roman Harper was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week; Woodson was nominated.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.


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