The injury bug has hit the Chicago Bears hard this season. That’s just a fact.
Heading into the Bears’ Week 5 road matchup in Kansas City, 16 players popped up on the injury report which includes one player who was ruled out, one player listed as a doubtful and 13 others questionable. The only positive out of the report is punter Pat O’Donnell’s probable status after he missed last week due to a knee injury.
Yes, the Bears will be without left tackle Jermon Bushrod for a second straight game, which will give way to Charles Leno Jr.’s second career start. For the most part he held his own against Oakland, but against the Chiefs he’ll be tested by Pro Bowlers Justin Houston and Tambi Hali.
Safety Antrel Rolle is listed as doubtful, but is most certainly out after suffering an ankle injury a week ago.
Then the 13-player cluster that is the questionable list. Wide receivers Alshon Jeffery (hamstring) and Eddie Royal (ankle) top that list after being limited all week and out on Friday. It seems as if Jeffery will be kept out for a fourth straight game while Royal should be fine to go this week.
As for the other key questionable tags, Jay Cutler (hamstring) is going to be active, his backup Jimmy Clausen (back) likely will be too. At defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff (ankle) declared he’d be a go on Thursday while Will Sutton (elbow) should be eased back into the rotation.
Also, cornerbacks Alan Ball (groin) and Sherrick McManis (hamstring) are questionable so it remains to be seen how the Bears will juggle things at that spot. Linebackers Shea McClellin (elbow) and Pernell McPhee (shoulder) are on this list, but should be active. Last but not least guard Patrick Omameh (ankle) is questionable, so that could mean we see Matt Slauson back at left guard and third round rookie Hroniss Grasu at center for the first time this season.
Keep in mind, Kansas City has only one player questionable to play in wide receiver Albert Wilson (shoulder), so they come into this one much healthier to say the least.
With that now out of the way, here are five players to watch on Sunday when the Bears play travel to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs.
Eighth-year pro Tracy Porter made his Bears’ debut last week and it was a good one.
Filling in for the injured Alan Ball (groin) against Oakland, Porter had two tackles and a pass breakup as he did he fine job covering Raiders star rookie receiver Amari Cooper. When covering Cooper, he allowed only three receptions for 23 yards on eight receptions. In total, Cooper had four receptions for 49 yards and a score, the 26-yard score came against Sherrick McManis in the slot, but Porter allowed no yards or catches from Cooper in the second half.
With Ball once again questionable with a groin injury and McManis (hamstring) questionable as well, this is yet another big game for Porter. Although, Porter has only made it through a full season once (2013 with Oakland), he’s up for the task now that he’s healthy.
All signs point to rookie Hroniss Grasu making his first career start this Sunday after being inactive for the first four weeks of the season. Grasu took plenty of first-team snaps this week in practice with Patrick Omameh limited and Matt Slauson seeing time back at his natural left guard spot.
It won’t be easy on the road at one of the most raucous environments that is Arrowhead Stadium, but Grasu has been in big situations before at Oregon. He started 50 straight games from 2011-14 and was one of the leaders of the offensive line group there.
His preseason showing wasn’t great where he was beaten at the point of attack by backup players, but five weeks of regular season practices should help him in a situation like this. Grasu is in for a busy afternoon in Kansas City.
Third-year wideout Marquess Wilson had his best game thus far with a six-catch, 80-yard performance in last week’s win over Oakland. He topped his career-high game of seven catches for 66 yards in Week 15 last season against Detroit.
The most impressive thing about Wilson’s performance was the fact that he had two clutch grabs on the Bears’ game-winning drive. Those catches followed one ugly drop. It goes to show you Jay Cutler has plenty of trust in his young receiver.
Wilson played 63 of 77 snaps last week, but with Alshon Jeffery likely out again and Eddie Royal banged up, Wilson should have his sights set on being the No. 1 wide receiver this week. Outside of tight end Martellus Bennett, Wilson is looking at an even bigger role in the Bears’ offense.
The undrafted rookie safety went from playing at Division-II University of Findlay in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) to the NFL this off-season. Last week, Harold Jones-Quartey stepped in opposite fellow rookie Adrian Amos due to Antrel Rolle’s injury.
Jones-Quartey wound up playing 34 snaps last Sunday against Oakland and did well for the part. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said he “needs more practice.”
He should get the first shot at starting this week, but if the Bears want to go with other fill-in options, they have Demontre Hurst or Sherrod Martin; both players were re-signed this past week. Hurst played two snaps at safety in Week 1 and Martin, a final cut has made 38 starts at safety in the last five seasons.
For now, Jones-Quartey appears to be the starter across from Amos. Two rookies in the secondary is a scary situation, but the safety spot has been much worse the past couple of seasons.
Fifth-year veteran back Jazquizz Rodgers only has 12 carries for 38 yards this season, but if the Bears were smart they would find ways to utilize him in the screen and passing game against a blitzing Chiefs defense.
Rodgers saw just nine snaps last week, but expect that number to rise despite Matt Forte’s giant workload. With the Bears lacking great pass-catching options outside of Martellus Bennett, Marquess Wilson and shaky Eddie Royal (ankle), using Rodgers alongside Forte could do wonders for the Bears’ offense.
He is a mismatch when used creatively. I have a hunch offensive coordinator Adam Gase will be thinking the same thing in this game.
Thoughts on Sunday’s matchup in Kanasas City? Make sure to comment below.
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