Marcus Cooper

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

10-7johntimu.jpg
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.”

Marcus Cooper, Bears move on from viral mistake: ‘We’re not firing him’

Marcus Cooper, Bears move on from viral mistake: ‘We’re not firing him’

Marcus Cooper’s viral mistake on Sunday was so blatantly embarrassing, did special teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers even have to say anything to the Bears cornerback on the sideline after it?

“Sure,” Rodgers said. “Score."

That'll do from a brevity standpoint. Continued Rodgers: "I mean, there's not much to add. He knows he made a mistake and he obviously knows the rules.”

The Bears aren’t dwelling on what Cooper did at the end of the first half against the Pittsburgh Steelers, partly because it didn’t cost them a win. It very well could’ve, though, and is one of those things that never should’ve happened, to say the least. 

“With a loss, maybe it’d be a lot worse,” Cooper said. “But (I need to) just finish the play and make sure Thursday we come out and play (well).”

Cooper, for what it’s worth, responded well in the second half with a few pass-break ups. Even with Kyle Fuller and Prince Amukamara playing well, the Bears didn’t consider benching Cooper — or, drastically, eating $8 million in guaranteed money to cut him — after his gaffe. 

“I mean, we’re not firing him,” coach John Fox said. “He’s too much a part of our team.”

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Will Cubs clinch in St. Louis?

lester.jpg
USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Will Cubs clinch in St. Louis?

Joining Kap on today's episode are Jon Greenberg (The Athletic), David DeJesus (CSN Chicago), Patrick Finley (Chicago Sun Times), and David Haugh (Chicago Tribune).

First, the guys preview the all-important series between the Cubs and the Cardinals where the Cubs can clinch the division by Tuesday at the earliest. Plus, should the Cubs rethink Jon Lester's position in the postseason rotation given recent performances?

Next, the guys go over the Bears success running the football in their upset win against the Steelers. Plus, what's up with the lack of production from the Bears wideouts, and what the $%*! was Marcus Cooper thinking on his blocked kick return at the end of the first half?

Finally, Kendall Gill joins the show to talk Bulls Media Day.