Five Bears To Watch: Week 6 vs. Detroit

Five Bears To Watch: Week 6 vs. Detroit
The Bears head out to Detroit on Sunday in search of third straight win. Here are the five players to watch, from top to bottom: Running back Jeremy Langford, defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff, left tackle Charles Leno, linebacker LaRoy Reynolds and safety Adrian Amos.

The Bears are beat up. After 14 players were listed on the injury report a week ago, the Bears have one less at 13 for Sunday’s Week 6 matchup with the rival Lions.

Quarterback Jay Cutler practiced in full all week for the first time since returning from his torn hamstring two weeks ago. Three players that were listed as questionable for last Sunday: cornerback Sherrick McManis, quarterback Jimmy Clausen and lineman Tayo Fabuluje are no longer hurt, but tight end Martellus Bennett, wide receiver Josh Bellamy and Terrance Mitchell took their spots on the injury front.

Bennett, the team’s leader in receptions (28), suffered a quadriceps injury in Thursday’s practice and did not participate in Friday’s session. He’s listed as questionable while Mitchell is doubtful with a hamstring issue and Bellamy is questionable with a groin injury.

If Bennett can’t go it would be a huge blow to the Bears’ offense that could be without Alshon Jeffery (hamstring) and Eddie Royal (ankle) again this week; both seem like a toss-up to play listed as questionable. Zach Miller would slide in is as the No. 1 tight end while rookie Khari Lee would see his most significant snaps of the year if Bennett is indeed unable to play.

Safety Antrel Rolle (ankle) is doubtful once again after missing last week’s game while linebacker Shea McClellin and defensive lineman Ego Ferguson (knee) are also doubtful to play. Harold Jones-Quartey will start at safety in the place of Rolle for the second straight week and LaRoy Reynolds will take McClellin’s spot in the lineup with Christian Jones calling the plays.

Left tackle Jermon Bushrod could be back now that he’s cleared of his concussion. He was limited all week with a shoulder issue. Last but not least defensive tackles Jeremiah Ratliff (ankle) and Will Sutton (elbow) are both questionable. The Bears have other injuries, but all of these listed above are the most prevalent.

Even though the Bears are thin they can still play competitive football after mustering comeback wins over the last two weeks. Here are five players to watch when the Bears head out Ford Field to battle the winless Lions.

Running back Jeremy Langford

The Bears’ rookie has only taken the field for a total of 10 snaps over the last two games, but with Jacquizz Rodgers (elbow) out for the year and the possibility that Martellus Bennett, Alshon Jeffery, Eddie Royal could be out or at the very least limited, Langford should have a key role.

Langford has totaled 11 touches for 38 yards and a touchdown (10 rushes-24 yards, one catch-14 yards) on the year. He’ll be asked to do more on special teams with Rodgers out of the picture. Speedster Antone Smith was signed to take his spot and should help on the third phase as well.

Against a Detroit defense that has allowed opposing quarterbacks to record a league-high 116.21 passer rating, expect Adam Gase to dial up plenty of play action passes in this game.

Langford should get more opportunities to make plays in both the run and passing game this week with the Bears’ offense trying to work with the limited cast they have in place. Expect a nice performance for the rookie behind workhorse Matt Forte.

Defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff

The 11th-year veteran is going to suit up this week despite his questionable tag. Ratliff was listed as questionable last week as well and wound up playing the second-most snaps (37) of any Bears’ defensive lineman in his season debut.

He was effective in his first game back despite his nagging ankle injury. Ratliff generated five tackles which included four solo stops. He did look out of breath at times as he went to the sideline, but another week of conditioning should do the Auburn product wonders.

His presence on the Bears’ defensive line is huge especially now that Ferguson is most certainly out with his knee issue and Sutton (elbow) could be limited at best if he suits up. Expect a big game for Ratliff, who had a sack in last year’s December meeting with Detroit.

Tackle Charles Leno

You may be asking yourself why Charles Leno is on this list if Bushrod is indeed going to make his return this week. Well, Leno will play a major role on the offensive line regardless of Bushrod’s status.

In just his second career start, Leno along with two-time Pro Bowler Kyle Long held Chiefs pass rushers Justin Houston to Tamba Hali to two tackles, zero sacks, zero quarterback hits and zero tackles for loss. It wasn’t all a breeze for Leno, who allowed pressures on Cutler often, but Cutler eluded the pressure and showed his pocket presence.

Leno will be asked to be a swing tackle if Bushrod does start, but after being limited all week with a shoulder issue it doesn’t appear promising that he’ll be back. The Bears would Bushrod wise to hold him out, so he can rest up through the bye and return in time for a Week 8 game with Minnesota. Expect Leno to start once again.

Linebacker LaRoy Reynolds

The 24-year-old Virginia product was thrown into action last week when McClellin suffered a knee injury. Reynolds will play in his place once again after playing 15 snaps on defense last Sunday.

He’ll take over Jones’ role as the secondary inside backer while Jones will call the plays just like he did on Reynolds’ 15 snaps in Kansas City.

Reynolds isn’t much more than a special teamer in his third season, but he’s on track to start his fourth career game after making three in 30 games with Jacksonville (2013-15). Recently promoted linebacker Jonathan Anderson could be plugged inside next to Jones, but Reynolds is going to get the first crack at the starting gig.

Safety Adrian Amos

Fifth-round rookie Adrian Amos might as well be called a seasoned veteran at this point. He’s started all five games, adding 19 tackles at free safety.

Amos is a physical defensive back, who hasn’t been tested much this season, but now with Rolle out again and undrafted rookie Jones-Quartey starting next to him this could be the week against a strong-armed Matthew Stafford.

Something to keep in mind is the fact that three of Stafford’s eight interceptions this year have been made by safeties. That includes Arizona’s Rashad Johnson, who picked off Stafford twice last week. Stafford has two touchdowns compared to five picks over the last three weeks while owning a career-low 74.8 passer rating thus far.

This could be the week where we see one of the Bears’ safeties make a big play and that guy could be the crafty Amos.

Thoughts on Sunday’s matchup in Detroit? Make sure to comment below.

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