Five Players To Watch: Week Five (Bennett, Marshall, Ola, Sutton, Young)

Five Players To Watch: Week Five (Bennett, Marshall, Ola, Sutton, Young)
Here are five Bears to watch in Sunday's meeting with Carolina. Who will stand out the most in this NFC matchup?

Just when some good news comes the Bears way, some bad news follows.

On Friday, Bears head coach Marc Trestman announced that left tackle Jermon Bushrod has officially been ruled out of Sunday’s road matchup against the Panthers.

Michael Ola will start at left tackle if left guard Matt Slauson can return to the lineup. Slauson was limited in practice until Friday, when he practiced in full.

Slauson’s listed as questionable. If he can’t go, Eben Britton could move into the left guard spot. It’s a messy situation for the Bears right now.

Bushrod reportedly had one of his knees rolled up on during the Wednesday’s practice, according to three people with knowledge of the injury. He’s also dealing with an ankle injury.

However, Bushrod calls the injury “nothing crazy” and expects to be back as soon as possible. The injury won’t require surgery as Bushrod calls it “just a rehab deal” via CBS Sports report Zach Zaidman.

He’s started 74 consecutive games, dating back to Oct. 4, 2009. His presence will surely be missed as he’s been the most solid lineman the past two seasons since signing with the Bears.

Until this week, Bushrod had played on every offensive snap since joining the Bears last off-season.

Bushrod’s replacement, Michael Ola knows that his task won’t be easy protecting Jay Cutler’s blindside.

“I don’t want to be the guy who lets Cutler get hit or I’ll be back flipping burgers,” he said via ESPN Chicago.

Other players ruled out were defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff, who will miss his third consecutive game due to a concussion. Linebacker Shea McClellin (hand) and safety Ahmad Dixon (hamstring) are also out.

Center Roberto Garza is doubtful with an ankle injury, but looks to be closer to returning after practicing on a limited basis this week. Brian de la Puente will start in his place for the fourth straight game.

Cornerback Sherrick McManis is also listed as doubtful with a quad injury. Defensive end Jared Allen is set to return to action after practicing this week, but he likely won’t get his full amount of snaps coming off his extended pneumonia bout last week.

Here are the three keys to a third win this season for the Bears.

Here is the breakdown of the key matchup between the Bears running game and Panthers defensive front.

These are five players to watch when the Bears travel to Carolina to take on the Panthers on Sunday afternoon.

Wide receiver Brandon Marshall

Marshall practiced in full all this week after being limited the past three weeks with an ankle injury. He’s caught just three passes for 25 yards and one touchdown since re-aggravating his ankle in Week 3 against the Jets. He played on all of the 68 first-team snaps last week before Cutler was relieved with the game out of reach. Cutler’s second interception was on a pass intended for his buddy Marshall. Marshall admitted on Friday that their was some “miscommunication” on the play. Marshall doesn’t have a great matchup on paper against the No. 12 ranked Panthers’ pass defense. But the last time he was held to 25 yards in two weeks was in his rookie season with the Broncos (2006). Plus he had this to say about his health, “I feel like I can do pretty much everything, but before I couldn’t jog without pain.” Look for him to have a big day.

Tight end Martellus Bennett

Bennett revealed after Sunday’s home loss to Green Bay that he played with a torn MCL and a separated shoulder for most of the 2013 season. He clearly isn’t suffering from injuries this season as he caught a career-high 134 yards on nine receptions in Week 4. He did all of that on 56 snaps and Cutler leaned on him to stretch plays down the middle of the field. He currently leads the team in receiving with 29 receptions for 295 yards and four touchdowns. Marshall has one more touchdown grab this season. Either way after an incident with rookie cornerback Kyle Fuller, where some reporters labeled Bennett as a “cancer”, the 6-foot-6 Texas A&M product has been as steady as they come through four games. He should find some open space as the Panthers safeties are average at best.

Lineman Michael Ola

Ola isn’t technically a rookie by NFL standards at age 26 and two years of experience in the CFL and two games in the AFL previously. However, the “rookie” has been a big part of the Bears’ offensive line thus far. He’s started the past three games at left guard in place of the injured Slauson and is expected to start at left tackle on Sunday with Bushrod out. Ola spent most of training camp and the preseason playing right tackle with Jordan Mills recovering from foot surgery. He did play with the second-team offense at left tackle in the preseason opener, so for anyone wondering about his past history at the position that’s about it. He could be in for a long afternoon with the return of defensive end Charles Johnson for the Panthers. Johnson has 22.5 sacks and eight forced fumbles the past two seasons. The Bears have allowed eight sacks this season.

Defensive end Willie Young

Young had four sacks along with 12 tackles as a part of the Bears’ defensive line rotation over the first three weeks. Last week, he got the start with Allen out and he finished with a team-high 47 defensive snaps. He only posted four tackles to show and was rather quiet against a soft Packers’ offensive line. But, Young has played well against read-option quarterbacks, posting a sack on E.J. Manuel in Week 1, two against Colin Kaepernick the following week and one against Geno Smith in Week 3. Cam Newton hasn’t been scrambling much, totaling eight runs for 33 yards, but Young and the Bears have to be cautious with the Panthers quarterback. This is a good matchup for the talented Young.

Defensive tackle Will Sutton

After posting only one tackle through two weeks, Sutton has performed well in spot duty, racking up six tackles in the last two games,. He’ll get the start once for the third straight week with Ratliff still recovering. He forced the initial pressure on an Ego Ferguson sack in Week 3 and has been a solid piece for the Bears defensive line. Sutton currently ranks first in the Pro Football Focus category stop percentage. He’s made stops on 15.7 percent of plays, which means opposing offenses lose yards. Look for Sutton to have another nice outing against a weak Panthers’ offensive line and a no-named backfield with Darrin Reaves and Fozzy Whittaker.

Thoughts on the five players to watch? Make sure to leave a comment below.


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