It’s actually Tavon Austin's speed — and the rookie’s afterburners are pretty darn groovy, baby. It accounted for 314 all-purpose yards in St. Louis’ upset of Indianapolis two weeks ago in becoming just the third player in NFL history to collect three touchdowns of more than 50 yards in a single game. It’s his kickoff return abilities that’s most feared, justifiably so. But along with Chris Givens and Austin Pettis (as well as Isaiah Pead coming out of the backfield) this receiving corps doesn’t have the pedigree of Holt and Bruce from Back In The Day, but they’re built for the turf and chew up yards after the catch. Tim Jennings can be utilized on one of these burners, so Zackary Bowman will have to step up, big-time, from a week ago, especially as Isaiah Frey fights through a broken hand. Kellen Clemens just has to find a way to get them the ball. Speaking of which:
The other 'Long'
While Kyle and Chris have grabbed the headlines this week, Jake Long has been overlooked. He shouldn’t be, as Julius Peppers looks to put back-to-back games together. Coming off his best game of the season, Peppers will be lined up against Long — the guy Phil Emery chose not to pursue in free agency. The former No. 1 overall pick waited several days after the Bears went with Jermon Bushrod before moving on St. Louis. Can the Bears’ pass rush counter any damage the Rams’ impressive pass rush does versus Josh McCown?
For whatever reason, the Bears’ running game executes better on the road (137 yards per game) than it has at home this season. Matt Forte can pass Neal Anderson for second on the franchise’s list for career yards in both rushing (with 66) and scrimmage yards (with 130). Why not just get that out of the way today? There’s no better way to neutralize a strong pass rush than by negating it on the ground. It won’t be easy. James Laurinaitis and the linebacking group back up the Rams’ front four very well. It might take a few series to get going if the Bears can open it up via the short passing game early. But the Rams have allowed four opponents to rush for 140-plus yards. It might not be a bad time for a fifth.
**Bears Pregame Live at 11 a.m. on Comcast SportsNet with Chris Boden, Dan Jiggetts and Jim Miller leads you up to kickoff. Join Jim and Chris here on CSNChicago.com for “Halftime Live” breaking down the first two quarters and previewing the second half. Then today, due to the Bulls-Clippers broadcast — we’ll live stream “Postgame Live” right here for 90 minutes here with press conferences, locker room reaction and analysis. It will then re-air on Comcast SportsNet immediately after “Bulls Postgame Live”**