Five Players To Watch: Week Four (Bostic, Ferguson, Jeffery, Jennings, Mills)

Five Players To Watch: Week Four (Bostic, Ferguson, Jeffery, Jennings, Mills)
Here are five Bears to watch in Sunday's home meeting with division rival Green Bay. Who will stand out the most in this big NFC North matchup?

The Packers-Bears historic rivalry will continue this week in Chicago. Green Bay has won four straight meetings at Soldier Field dating back to the 2010 NFC Championship game.

The Bears (2-1) are fresh off their second consecutive road victory coming in New York, while the Packers (1-2) dropped a road affair with division opponent Detroit.

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers only scored seven points in their Week 3 loss against Detroit. That offensive output was the lowest under Rodgers since he took the starting quarterback job from Brett Favre in 2008.

“There are high expectations here for us every year,” Rodgers said to the Green Bay media after Wednesday’s practice. “We’ve underachieved on offense, so you understand it. It’s a reminder that it is a long season but all of our goals are in front of us and within reach. We have to play better.

Second-year running back Eddie Lacy, who won the Offensive Rookie of the Year award as a rookie last season has run for only 113 yards on 36 carries this season. He fumbled on his second carry and Detroit and was benched by head coach Mike McCarthy in favor of James Starks and DeJuan Harris.

McCarthy called Lacy out on Wednesday by saying: “Eddie needs to play better.”

However, despite Lacy’s struggles his best game of his young career came in the Week 9 Monday Night Football matchup against the Bears, when he carried the rock 22 times for 150 yards and a touchdown.

There’s no doubt that Lacy will be looking to improve as well as a Rodgers, who threw for only 162 yards last week.

Rodgers has owned the Bears the past five seasons, posting a 9-2 record against them in the regular season. Cutler on the other hand has lost seven straight starts and holds a 1-8 record against Green Bay.

Here’s a breakdown of Cutler’s career numbers against the Packers and the keys to the game.

Here’s a breakdown of Rodgers’ career numbers against the Bears and the key matchup.

These are five players to watch when the Bears welcome Green Bay to Soldier Field on Sunday afternoon.

Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery

Despite suffering a hamstring injury prior to halftime of the season opener against the Bills, Jeffery has been able to play on 117 of 125 offensive snaps the past two weeks. He broke loose for a season-high eight receptions for 105 yards, with a long of 42 yards against the Jets. The big numbers certainly had to do with that fact that Brandon Marshall was struggling to be effective after he re-aggravated his ankle. But one thing is for sure, Jeffery is a playmaker when healthy. He isn’t on the injury report this week and that bodes well for the Bears as they look for mismatches against Dom Capers’ defense. The Packers did a rather good job against Jeffery as the third-year pro caught only eight of 17 targets for 140 yards and a touchdown in their two meetings in 2013.

Defensive tackle Ego Ferguson

After playing on only 12 snaps against Buffalo, Ferguson has played on 41 snaps the past two weeks with veteran Jeremiah Ratliff (concussion) out. Fellow rookie Will Sutton has played on 86 snaps and has filled the pass rushing role well. Ferguson is being counted on to stop the run next to Stephen Paea. Ferguson recorded his first career sack in Week 3 on a play where Sutton generated the first pressure. Both rookies have been impressive and if they continue to thrive, they could be a dangerous tandem for years to come. Ferguson should see more snaps this week as the Packers are expected to unleash a revved up Lacy out of the backfield.

Linebacker Jon Bostic

With Shea McClellin out with a hand injury he suffered in practice last week, Bostic moved into the strongside linebacker spot. He made his first start and thrived in the role leading the Bears with 14 tackles, including seven solo stops. Bostic could have ended the game rather early on the final drive with an interception that went through his hands twice. The pressure on the play was by Jared Allen, who had eight quarterback pressures on the night, which forced the bad throw by Geno Smith. Bostic only played on 67 of 124 snaps during the first two weeks, but with McClellin out for this week and possibly another game it could be his job to lose. Bostic didn’t play in the finale loss to Green Bay last season, so his presence could be an added dimension for the Bears’ defense.

Cornerback Tim Jennings

The 30-year-old has been quiet as of late, but that has been a good thing for the Bears. With Charles Tillman out for the season with a torn right triceps, Jennings is the leader in the Bears secondary. He has only eight tackles on the season, but he’s been making plays that don’t show up on the stat sheet. With offensive’s focusing on attacking rookie Kyle Fuller, Jennings’ side is not getting a lot of looks. However, don’t think Rodgers won’t test Jennings, who has only given up two big plays this season (Week 1 to Robert Woods and Week 3 to Greg Salas). Jennings has missed only two defensive snaps in three games. The undersized corner is always looking to prove his doubters wrong and this rivalry game is no different.

Right tackle Jordan Mills

Mills and Kyle Long started all 16 games next to one another in 2013 and that provided fresh talent and athleticism for the right side of the Bears’ offensive line.  Mills will be assigned to fend off former Bears defensive end Julius Peppers, who was released this off-season after a disappointing seven-sack 2013 campaign. Peppers has 10 tackles, a sack, a forced fumble and five quarterback hits for his new team in the green and yellow. Lions right tackle Garrett Reynolds got beat bad by Peppers on a red zone play where Julius sacked and forced a fumble from quarterback Matthew Stafford. Peppers still has talent and you have to believe he’ll bring his full effort against the team that released him. Mills will have his hands full, so the Bears might opt to leave Forte in the backfield to chip block or send “hybrid” tight end Eben Britton over to the right side to help.

Coming Up: Game Preview – Saturday, Final Thoughts – Monday

Thoughts on the five players to watch and the game? Make sure to comment below.

 

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