The highlighters are more than apparent in Thursday’s Bears-Packers game. Clay Matthews. Jay Cutler. Julius Peppers. Kyle Long. Pernell McPhee. Aaron Rodgers. Matt Forte.
But there are no small parts in theater, only small actors, and so many games turn on the supporting characters who the moment elevates or finds wanting, whether Chris Conte, Randall Cobb or whomever.
Adding a touch of intrigue to Thursday’s Bears-Packers game is the sprinkling of players, one or two or three of whom likely will play major roles and who weren’t even around for game one back on Sept. 13.
“Typically in your breakdown your game with them in there, if you’ve played them up to this point, even though it was a long time ago. I saw jersey numbers in there for us that I didn’t hardly remember,” coach John Fox said.
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For instance, the Bears started a nickel package that included Alan Ball opposite Kyle Fuller, and Sherrick McManis as the third corner played 92 percent of the snaps that game as the Packers schemed to put the Bears in nickel personnel.
Christian Jones played every defensive snap in game one; the past couple games he has been platooned with Jonathan Anderson in nickel and played just 42 of the Broncos’ 69 snaps.
The names that’ve changed are less important than the trend line they represent as the Bears make changes to upgrade on the fly, which is the underlying point of 2015, the strategic goal that meshes with the tactical objective of winning football games.
“It will be my first time going against [the 2015 Packers] physically,” said cornerback Tracy Porter, who was inactive the first two weeks this season with a hamstring strain. “I took all the necessary notes on these guys, knowing what they like to do… . We’ve had enough games since we’ve played those guys the first time to get a feel for what we wanna do. It’ll just be another game for us.”
Probably not entirely the case, anymore than Denver was just another game for Fox. But the only way to become king is to dethrone the king, and the Bears do get that.
“I know it would mean a lot to the city of Chicago,” said quarterback Jay Cutler. “It would mean a lot to this locker room. But we play 16 games; every opponent is important to us. I don't think we're in a situation right now where we can pick and choose who we want to win and who we want to lose to. Every game we need to win at this point.”