If Kyle Long is the new right tackle for the Bears or Alshon Jeffery is back starting at wide receiver, it may be Sunday before those things are official. Asked Monday if Long’s position is still up in the air, for example, Fox wasn’t: “It depends on what you call up in the air,” Fox said.
The Bears will not release any injury information until Wednesday when it’s required, or lineups until the game with the Green Bay Packers is at hand. That includes where Long plays and who’s the fifth offensive-line starter, or whether left tackle Jermon Bushrod is able to go. Bushrod was not practicing Monday, instead jogging laps around the field as he rests his ailing back.
As far as not knowing, or at least withholding information on full starting lineups going into the week of the first game, “I think it’s fair with our 53-man roster,” Fox said. “All those guys are possibilities, not just this week against Green Bay but late in the season, middle of the season, next week things change. I feel good about where we are and we’ll have to before kickoff activate our 46 just like our opponent will.”
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Fox’s reasoning is simple: “It’s all about matchups,” he told CSNChicago.com. If he looks at the latest personnel alignments of an opponent, he assumes his counterparts do, (and from every indication over the years, they do.). If he knows a backup will start at a position, the defensive coach in him schemes to attack that weakness, or at least test the new guy early and often.
If Long is the right guard, Packers coordinator Dom Capers can be expected to assault the new right tackle with blitz schemes requiring instantaneous decisions from a player still possibly assimilating the offense. If two-time Pro Bowl’er Long is at right tackle, the Bears are by definition weaker at right guard, and Capers’ attack point likely shifts.
“I don't know how [others] do it but we put jersey numbers on guys on our scout team and kind of simulate a game as well as we can in preparation for the game,” Fox said. “I think they probably have a lot of offenses and defenses they've not used in the preseason just like we have and everybody in our business does. I don't think it serves you well to advertise what you're going to do, personnel or plays.”