While the win against the Vikings was a good tonic for their spirits following a two game losing streak, the Bears came out of last week’s game needing more than healthy attitudes heading into this Sunday’s contest at Soldier Field against the Seahawks. Of the half-dozen or so injuries sustained last week, there are at least a couple which will significantly alter the starting lineup versus Seattle.
Offensive guard, Lance Louis, is out for the season with a ruptured knee after sustaining a vicious hit from the Vikings’ DE Jared Allen, which knocked Louis backward while he was trying to defend after an interception return. Louis had been the Bears’ top O-lineman and back-up Edwin Williams must fill the breach as best a back-up guard can. Having demoted and later dismissing their other starting guard, Chilo Rachal, a week earlier, has forced the team to go with tackle Gabe Carimi at guard.
Perhaps Carimi, who had been benched for poor play himself, can resurrect his young NFL career, by moving inside, as did former #1 draft pick, Chris Williams, before him. However, Williams was released by the Bears earlier this year which doesn’t necessarily bode well for this precedent. Improving and stabilizing the unit that protects and blocks for Jay Cutler and Matt Forte has to be first priority for GM Phil Emery this off-season.
Speaking of Forte, it appears as if he will be able to play Sunday given that he is already practicing after his latest ankle injury. Back-up Michael Bush has been dependable running inside, but Forte is needed, especially as a pass receiver out of the backfield since Cutler’s favorite target, Brandon Marshall, is sure to receive double and triple team assignments from Seattle’s big secondary.
Devin Hester suffered a concussion against Minnesota and will certainly not play this Sunday. But even before the injury, it seemed that Hester had forgotten who he was, given his inconsistent play both as a wide receiver and a kick returner. Perhaps as was the case with Cutler, Hester can return rededicated to becoming more like his old self once he gets back on the field. Unlike Cutler, who is certainly going to be re-signed to a contract extension with the Bears this off-season, the clock is running out on Hester’s NFL career.
Fortunately, Hester’s replacement, Eric Weems, is good enough as a kick returner and better as a wide receiver, so there might even be a benefit for the Bears on this lineup change. Hopefully, injuries to defensive stars Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman will not keep them out of the Seattle game as the drop-off would be significant if they had to be replaced for even one game.
Seattle is a sort of 49ers team in the making, at least when they are playing at their best, which is almost always when they are playing at home. On the road, they are a losing bunch and that will probably be the case Sunday as the Bears look to solidify their first place standing in the NFC North Division and eventual playoff spot. Another date with the Vikings follows and finally, a long awaited rematch against the Packers, which may finally decide the Bears’ regular season.
Fans lost a lot of faith after the blow-out loss at San Francisco and even with a possible new winning streak heading into their game against Green Bay, few would consider the Bears a real Super Bowl contender until they at least beat the Packers. That win would probably get Lovie Smith his own contract extension, but first his team has to fight through their current injury bug and game-manage victories against beatable opponents like the Seahawks and Vikings.