Five Bears To Watch: Week 9 vs. San Diego

Five Bears To Watch: Week 9 vs. San Diego
The Bears and Chargers play on Monday Night. Here's five players to watch, pictured from top to bottom: Linebacker Sam Acho, running back Jeremy Langford, wide receiver Cameron Meredith, linebacker Willie Young, guard Patrick Omameh

A trip to San Diego is on tap for Monday night for the Chicago Bears as they prepare for their first primetime game of the season here in Week 9.

The Bears are relatively healthy after battling a long list of injuries over the past month or so. Starting running back Matt Forte hasn’t practiced all week due to an MCL sprain and could be out multiple games. Linebacker Pernell McPhee (knee), center Hroniss Grasu (neck) and wide receiver Eddie Royal (knee) also haven’t been able to participate.

McPhee’s absence has been to manage his practice reps due to a lingering left knee injury. According to the Tribune’s Rich Campbell, McPhee said he “feels awesome.” As for Grasu, he’s likely out for a second straight game which means Matt Slauson will start at center once again while Royal is looking highly doubtful for Monday night.

Linebacker Shea McClellin could be returning this week after suffering a knee injury against Kansas City in Week 5. Cornerback Bryce Callahan is still limited as he’s yet to be cleared of a concussion that he was hit with in last week’s loss to Minnesota. Left tackle Jermon Bushrod and tight end Zach Miller were also limited.

Here are the five Bears to watch as they take on the reeling Chargers on Monday Night Football.

Outside linebacker Sam Acho

In six games this season, fifth-year linebacker Sam Acho has only four quarterback hurries. The 27-year-old has been the starting outside backer opposite Pernell McPhee after Jared Allen was sent packing to Carolina following a Week 3 shutout loss in Seattle.

Acho has 21 tackles, a pass breakup, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery, but he hasn’t been able to be a consistent pass rusher in his first year in a Bears’ uniform. Against a completely banged up Chargers offensive line, Acho could be in line for a big afternoon if defensive coordinator Vic Fangio is able to dial up some exotic blitzes.

Running back Jeremy Langford

The fourth-round rookie is set to start the first game of his young career with Matt Forte on the shelf. Langford had 12 carries and 46 rushing yards in his most extensive action last Sunday against the Vikings.

He was a solid back out of Michigan State a season ago and has shown the ability to burst his way up field and has been a solid pass-blocker. The main concern after last week is his abilities as a receiver out of the backfield after dropping a wide open Jay Cutler pass that likely cost them the game.

This is a huge game for Langford’s future if the Bears decide to move on from Forte after this season. I think the two would make a tremendous pair, but the NFL is a business and there are no guarantees with Forte’s future in Chicago.

Wide receiver Cameron Meredith

After being inactive a week ago, rookie wide receiver Cameron Meredith should see a healthy dose of snaps against the Chargers. Behind Alshon Jeffery and Marquess Wilson the Bears don’t have much talent.

Meredith has proven to be a nice pickup as an undrafted free agent and he should surpass Marc Mariani and Josh Bellamy on the depth chart rather easily. With Eddie Royal nicked up once again, now is the time for Meredith to take advantage of his playing time.

Outside linebacker Willie Young

Through six games, the team’s leading sack man from a season ago has only one sack and four quarterback hurries in a limited sub-package role in the 3-4 defense. Young only played seven snaps last week as his counterpart Lamarr Houston saw just four.

Much like Acho, Young should earn plenty of chances to get after Philip Rivers and this could be the week where he finally makes some big plays. He had 10 sacks last season, but in the 3-4 scheme he hasn’t done much, so games like this are big in terms of his future with the Bears or elsewhere.

Guard Patrick Omameh

The third-year Michigan product made his first start with the Bears last week against the Vikings and overall he held his own. Omameh had some lapses, but he got stronger as the game went along.

After starting 16 games with the Bucs last season, he was let go by Tampa Bay at final cuts, but at the very least he should be backend depth for a Bears’ offensive line that seems to always be changing. This is an audition for a future in the NFL for Omameh.

Thoughts on Monday’s matchup against San Diego? Make sure to comment below.

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