Jonathan Anderson

Depth check: How injuries and suspension will have a major impact on Bears-Vikings

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USA TODAY

Depth check: How injuries and suspension will have a major impact on Bears-Vikings

A month ago, the Bears could reasonably describe their depth at inside linebacker as strong, and maybe as the strongest unit on the team. 

But on Monday, the Bears will be without the trio of players who comprised that depth: Jerrell Freeman is on injured reserve with a pectoral tear; Nick Kwiatkoski’s pec injury isn’t as serious but will keep him sidelined; and Danny Trevathan will serve his one-game suspension for the helmet-to-helmet hit he leveled on Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams last week. 

Trevathan will be back next week and Kwiatkoski appears to have avoided injured reserve, meaning he can be expected back at some point this season. But without them, the Bears will roll with Christian Jones, John Timu and Jonathan Anderson (the latter two began the season on the practice squad) against the Minnesota Vikings. 

“It's a concern, but at least we're playing with guys that were here that were in camp,” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. “That was the one position on defense, when we went to the 53 and practice squad where we did have guys, we had four active and two on practice squad and now all six of them have played, so (we) feel good about that in that we're not having somebody in off the street having to learn a new system and I think they'll all do fine.”

Jones and Timu have seen a decent amount of snaps alongside Trevathan this year: In the last three weeks, Jones’ defensive snap counts are 47, 36 and 28 while Timu played 17 snaps against Pittsburgh and 19 against Green Bay (Anderson has not played a defensive snap since Week 2). 

Timu, who’s played in 20 games over the last three years, will handle the defensive calls on Monday.

“We’re confident in John,” Fangio said. “John knows our defense. He’s been here for three years. The game’s not too big for him. He loves to play. He is instinctive and smart. So we think he’ll go in there and do fine.”

Added linebacker Pernell McPhee: “Timu’s a very good player, a very smart player, a very patient player. I think his play on the field shows how much he’s studying and how much he’s really locked in throughout the week.”

The Bears may be without two other starters, too: Saturday’s final injury report listed outside linebacker Willie Young (tricep) as doubtful, while cornerback Marcus Cooper is questionable with back spasms. Going back further, the Bears are also without veteran safety Quintin Demps, who handled a lot of the communication duties for this defense. 

But the Vikings will be without rookie Dalvin Cook (74 carries, 354 yards, 2 TDs), who tore his ACL last week. Backups Jerick McKinnon (2.6 yards/attempt) and Latavius Murray (2.7 yards/attempt) haven’t inspired much fear in 2017. And the expectation at Halas Hall is that quarterback Sam Bradford will start, though he’s listed as questionable on the Vikings’ final injury report. 

So in the matchup of the Bears' defense against the Vikings' offense, the group that gets the most out of its depth guys may be the one that swings that battle on Monday. 

“Any time you lose a starter — I think there's a reason they're the starter — but you know I feel good about our backups,” coach John Fox said. “I feel good about the replacement people we've had in there. We've got more depth this season than we've had in the past so I feel confident in the people we'll have out there and the options we have.”

Bears suffer another huge loss with Jerrell Freeman going on injured reserve

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AP

Bears suffer another huge loss with Jerrell Freeman going on injured reserve

A day after it was learned that Kevin White was going on injured reserve with a fractured scapula, the Bears suffered another huge loss Tuesday, announcing that linebacker Jerrell Freeman was also placed on injured reserve.

The Bears said only that Freeman suffered an injury in Sunday's season-opening loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Monday, head coach John Fox told reporters that Freeman had a self-reported concussion as well as a pectoral muscle injury.

Freeman was one of the better defensive players in the league last season, his first with the Bears. He led the team with 86 total tackles, appearing in 12 games.

Freeman hasn't played an entire 16-game schedule since his second season in the league, 2013 with the Indianapolis Colts.

The Bears also made White's move to injured reserve official and announced that wide receiver Tanner Gentry and linebacker Jonathan Anderson were signed to the active roster from the practice squad. Additionally, running back Joshua Rounds and wide receiver Mario Alford were signed to the practice squad, and wide receiver Rueben Randle was released from injured reserve.

Bears promote preseason standout Tanner Gentry to 53-man roster

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AP

Bears promote preseason standout Tanner Gentry to 53-man roster

The Bears' wide-receiver carousel took another spin on Tuesday afternoon.

The Bears announced they've promoted wide receiver Tanner Gentry to the active roster and signed wideout Mario Alford to an already-thin positional group which is already without Cameron Meredith and just lost Kevin White to another potential season-ending injury.

Gentry, who was waived by the Bears and signed to the practice squad earlier this month, had four catches for 77 yards and one touchdown during the preseason. Gentry's touchdown came on a 45-yard pass from rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky against the Tennessee Titans.

Gentry went undrafted last May after a standout four-year career at Wyoming in which he caught 180 passes for 2,125 yards and 20 touchdowns.

Alford, who was White's college teammate at West Virginia, was originally selected by the Cincinnati Bengals in the 7th round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Alford's one career catch came during his rookie season with the Bengals. He had eight punt returns for 68 yards and eight kickoff returns for 190 yards with the Cleveland Browns last season. He was waived by the team following the 2017 preseason.

In an additional roster move, the Bears promoted inside linebacker Jonathan Anderson to the active roster and placed Jerrell Freeman on injured reserve.