The Bears could very well be without two of their top players for Sunday’s NFC matchup with the visiting Arizona Cardinals.
Outside linebacker Pernell McPhee and wide receiver Alshon Jeffery are listed as questionable after sitting out the last two practices. McPhee was limited on Wednesday with a wrist injury, but now it’s a knee problem that has kept him out. Jeffery seemed to be at 100 percent health on Wednesday, but a hamstring injury hasn’t allowed him to practice since then.
Defensive end Ego Ferguson is also being listed as questionable. A knee injury kept him out of Wednesday and Friday’s practice sessions while he was able to get limited work in on Thursday.
The only good news from the Bears’ injury report on Friday was with linebacker Sam Acho (illness) and cornerback Sherrick McManis (thigh), both players are probable and will be active. For what it’s worth, linebacker Jon Bostic (ankle) and cornerback Tracy Porter (hamstring) are out for a second straight week.
It will be a tough task knocking off a physical and disciplined Cardinals team especially if Jeffery and McPhee won’t be able to suit up.
Regardless, the Bears still have guys who can step up. Here are five players to watch on Sunday when the Bears welcome Arizona to Soldier Field.
Wilson, a third-year Washington State product will be in for a big role even if Jeffery is on the field Sunday. After playing on 64 snaps, only second to Eddie Royal’s 65 out of the wide receivers, Wilson will be looking to improve off his performance a week ago.
He caught two receptions for 59 yards including a 50-yard grab in the fourth quarter on a 3rd-and-7. He added 39 yards after the catch on the big play.
Wilson and Jay Cutler have good chemistry and right now with Jeffery possibly out and generating tons of attention from opposing defenses when he is playing, Wilson could be the guy open more often than not. He will see a large dose of safety Tyrann Mathieu, who plays plenty of slot corner as well.
Wilson is a key offensive player to watch in this Week 2 matchup.
Sutton drew the start at defensive tackle last week with Jeremiah Ratliff serving his three-game suspension. Although, the second-year Arizona State product didn’t get on the box score, he played 39 snaps which led all Bears’ defensive linemen.
Jarvis Jenkins was the next closest with 37 snaps while rookie Eddie Goldman played 24 and Ego Ferguson was in on 23. If Ferguson can’t go on Sunday it will leave the Bears scary thin on the line and it could force them to promote Brandon Dunn from the practice squad.
Third-year defensive end Lavar Edwards was signed this week, but who knows how quickly he’ll be able to pick up this defense. Sutton will be tasked with the most responsibilities of his young career on Sunday. Let’s see if he can step up to the plate.
Coming off a solid performance in the season opener, ninth-year tackle Jermon Bushrod appears to be as healthy as he can be. He was effective in pass protection and showed plenty of power in the run blocking aspect of the game.
Bushrod sat out Friday’s practice due to rest for his lingering back issue. He is listed as probable, so expect to see the veteran earn a day off each week to get into the best shape possibly for gameday.
Against a solid pass rushing Arizona defense that generated two sacks and four quarterback hits against New Orleans in Week 1, Bushrod will need to hold his own in this one. He should be able to if he plays as well as he did last week.
Outside of a late pass interference penalty that allowed Green Bay to put the game away late, second-year cornerback Kyle Fuller had a quiet afternoon. That’s definitely not a bad thing.
He hasn’t proven that he is ready to become a No. 1 cornerback in this league and could very well be a fit as a No. 2 or slot corner in the future. But for now, the Bears don’t have enough talent at the position to move him around.
Fuller is still living with the pressures that come with being a first-round pick. With Alan Ball opposite him it’s not a particularly intimidating duo, but with time and consistent pressure from the Bears’ defensive line the cornerbacks could improve. This is a big game for Fuller.
Due to Aaron Rodgers and the Packers going with a no-huddle offensive attack last Sunday, sixth-year man Lamarr Houston was kept off the field for the majority of the day. He docked only four snaps all afternoon.
Considering McPhee is highly questionable and Jared Allen struggled mightily to get any pressure off the edge, expect to see Houston on the field often. Willie Young should get his chances as well after coming on the field for 22 snaps last week.
Houston is due a base salary of $5.95 million and if Vic Fangio wants his defense to be successful he should implement packages for the Texas product. He could have a big day with his role expanded against Arizona.
Quote of The Day
Forte on potential impact if Jeffery can’t play Sunday: “We don’t have another Alshon on the team so obviously it’s going to hurt.” #Bears
— Zach Zaidman (@ZachZaidman) September 18, 2015
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