Friday, Sept. 23, 2011
Posted: 1:16 p.m. Updated: 5:38 p.m.
By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com Bears Insider Follow @CSNMoonMullin Sick bay
The Chicago offense will be without two starters receiver Earl Bennett and tackle Gabe Carimi but there is officially a 50-50 chance they will have several key figures back for the Green Bay game on Sunday.
Guard Lance Louis (ankle) and running back Marion Barber (calf), who did not practice last Friday and did not play after being listed as doubtful on the week-end injury report, finished this week listed as questionable. Also in that group was wide receiver Roy Williams (groin), expected to play Sunday but not certain as to whether or when he returns to the starting lineup.
Safety Chris Harris (hamstring) also went from doubtful and not practicing last Friday to questionable, although he is expected to give way to Craig Steltz in the starting lineup for this week. Brandon Meriweather, who started at free safety in New Orleans alongside Wright, will stay in that job in what is likely to be a permanent move.
A key indicator: Barber, Harris, Louis and Williams all went through full practices, albeit on Friday when practices are not the full-pads sessions of a Wednesday.
Major Wright, listed as questionable, practiced on a limited basis but the Bears will not rush a player with a head injury back onto the field.
The Packers will be without safety Nick Collins (neck, out for season), defensive end Mike Neal (knee) and linebacker Frank Zombo (shoulder). All other Packers are listed as probable, including starters Chad Clifton (knee), Clay Matthews (quad) and Charles Woodson (foot) who either sat out of practice or were limited.
The Bears under Lovie Smith are 8-7 against the Green Bay Packers. All seven losses came when the Bears failed to score more than 15 points.
If the Bears have managed to hold the Packers and Aaron Rodgers to lower point totals, the Packers have been positively inhospitable to Jay Cutler. In the five games played with Cutler against the Packers, the Bears have scored just 15, 14, 20 (with a Devin Hester punt return for a TD), 3 and 14 points, an average of 13.2 points. And all 14 of the points in the NFC Championship game were Caleb Hanie productions.
The Bears offense under Mike Martz in three Green Bay meetings is averaging 10 points per game. In 12 Green Bay games with Ron Turner as offensive coordinator, without adjusting for defensive or special-teams scores, the Bears averaged 18.8 ppg. with quarterbacks Rex Grossman, Chad Hutchinson, Kyle Orton and Brian Griese.
The chip's in place
Bears great Jay Hilgenberg made it a career mission to take the measure of No. 1 draft choices whenever he faced them. The seven-time Pro Bowl center had been an undrafted free agent and used the draft-day slight for motivation.
JMarcus Webb knows the anger.
Webb at least had the relief of being drafted in 2010 but not until the seventh round. That passed-over feeling was there in a rookie year that saw him win the starting job at right tackle before moving to left tackle this offseason.
Of course it bothers me, Webb said. There is definitely a chip on your shoulder to prove to those teams and yourself that youre better than they thought you were. Youve got to have that competitive mindset as well.
If he wants motivation in the form of No. 1s, the Packers will have rush linebacker Clay Matthews (2009 first round, No. 26 overall) and nose tackle B.J. Raji (2009 first round, No. 9 overall) in their front for him.
A more direct diss for Webb: Green Bay also thought tackle Bryan Bulaga was worth a No. 1 pick last year, 23rd overall, and didnt think enough of Webb to make a move on him in any of the next five rounds, either.
But being a veteran in his second NFL season has mellowed Webb. Or so he says. It was something I definitely thought about a lot last year, he said. This year I think its more about myself and how I can get better, how to help my team.
One way: dominate some former No. 1 pick.
The Bears under Lovie Smith are 42-9 when they hold a team to 17 or fewer points, the standard defensive point target. That fact is particularly relevant when the opponent is the Green Bay Packers.
Eight of the 15 times Smiths Bears played the Packers, Green Bay scored those 17 or fewer. The Bears are 7-1 in those games.
Meaning: Whatever the Bears do, they cannot turn the game into any kind of scoring fest and need desperately to shorten the game by consuming time, and also by keeping Aaron Rodgers watching.
That will not be easy.
Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy is 6-0 in road openers, and this is the Packers road opener. Worse for the Bears, the Packers have won 14 of the last 19 games played in Soldier Field.
John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.