The offseason began with injury questions overhanging several potential key members of both the Bears offense and defense: Lamarr Houston and Willie Young recovering from season-ending injuries, Jermon Bushrod missing time with a back issue.
Then training camp opened with the status of rookie wide receiver Kevin White the great unknown because of his shin injury, followed by the nicks to virtually the entire top of the receiver group.
One week into the season and a projected linchpin of the new Bears defense – rush linebacker Pernell McPhee – is approaching Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals as questionable with knee and wrist injuries, casting a cloud over a pass rush that already was questionable after getting neither sack or even a hit on Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Houston, Young and likely linebacker Sam Acho will be part of the solution to a sub-par McPhee. Acho held one of the starting OLB positions before losing the job to Jared Allen through camp, but Acho was a Cardinal the past four years and collected sacks in each of the two preseason games in which he played before coming down with an undisclosed illness.
“I think [Young] is getting more and more comfortable,” said Bears head coach John Fox." That’s a question you’d have to ask him. I like his progress.”
Along with that came the continuing unknown of Alshon Jeffery, who missed all of preseason with a calf injury, but played 60 of the Bears’ 71 snaps vs. the Packers. Jeffery had some hamstring tightness on Thursday and was held out on Friday, not a positive for a player who was less than full power for Green Bay.
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“I though the guys we had fought hard on the outside,” said quarterback Jay Cutler, anticipating what the Bears expect to see from strong Arizona defensive backs. “A lot of man-to-man from Green Bay; similar situation this week. Arizona is not afraid to play man; they are not afraid to come and get you and bring more than you are capable of blocking.
“I thought [receivers] had a good week. I thought the last couple of days – Eddie [Royal], Alshon, Q [Marquess Wilson], Marc [Mariani], all of those guys competed hard out there.”
Among others also missing practice on Friday were defensive tackle Ego Ferguson (knee), questionable; linebacker Jon Bostic (ankle), out; cornerback Tracy Porter (hip, other), out; Bushrod, probable.