Sunday, Sept. 18, 2011
Posted: 11:32 a.m. Updated: 6:40 p.m.
CSNChicago.com BearsInsider Follow@CSNMoonMullin
New Orleans -- The Bears made it through 2010 with minimal injuries. They are making up for that in record speed, unfortunately.
By the end of Sundays third quarter the Bears were without two wide receivers, both starting safeties and two starting offensive linemen. And this is only week two.
With running back Marion Barber still out with a calf injury and Roy Williams inactive with a groin strain, sick bay filled in earnest Sunday. Wide receiver Earl Bennett left with a chest injury early in the game after catching a quick slant from Jay Cutler then a big hit to the midsection by a Saints tackler. Bennett held onto the ball for a nine-yard gain but was down for several minutes and had to be helped off the field.
Rookie right tackle Gabe Carimi was lost with a knee injury late in the second quarter and was gone from the sideline in the second half. Right guard Lance Louis already was on the inactive list with an ankle injury from the Atlanta game.
And the deep secondary took a scary hit late in the third quarter when safety Major Wright, struggling already in coverage against the speed and size of the Saints receiver corps, was down for 5 minutes with a head injury, had to be helped off the field and was out for the remainder of the game. Starter Chris Harris already was on the inactive list with a hamstring injury.
We lost a couple guys, coach Lovie Smith said. Were starting to get a few injuries but were feeling good about the 53-man roster so other guy will get an opportunity. But today give the Saints credit. They played better than we did, made critical plays were we didnt.
The Bears reached the New Orleans 20 on their first drive of the second half and netted just three points on a Robbie Gould field goal. But while it may have appeared to be just another red-zone settle-for, Cutler's throws on three incompletions at that point were smart, all three in places where either his receiver or no one was going to make the catch.
The result was avoiding a devastating red-zone interception, something Cutler too often in the past committed in efforts to force passes places they didnt belong.
The Saints were the better team today. Cutler said. They rushed me hard and forced our offense to do things we didnt want to do.
The safeties were badly burned on a third-and-12 situation when Major Wright appeared to misjudge the speed of New Orleans wideout Devery Henderson, who blew past Wright for a 79-yard touchdown, the kind of disaster play that reverses game momentum.
Rookie Chris Conte, coming over from the opposite side, couldnt get there in time but the problem was Wright. Instead of a possible stop on third-and-long, turning the ball back to the offense, the play gave New Orleans a touchdown and forced the offense to start its next drive after a kickoff into the end zone.
You have to be on your toes at all times because thats a high-powered offense we were playing against, said linebacker Brian Urlacher. We gave up a big touchdown early and that never helps.
Matt Toeaina started again in place of Anthony Adams and appears to have supplanted Adams with the No. 1 unit.
Dane Sanzenbacher continues to be a nugget in the offense. As he has done on more than one occasion, Sanzenbacher forced a holding call from the defense before working his way open in the back of the end zone three plays later to give the Bears a 7-3 lead in the first quarter.
Who's in? Who's out?
As expected, the starting lineups took some hits due to injuries, Williams (groin) down for the game and Johnny Knox starting at wide receiver. Brandon Meriweather will start at free safety and Wright goes to strong safety, where Harris is on the inactive list with a hamstring problem.
Corey Wootton still isnt far enough back from his knee surgery so hes again inactive. But the need to get edge pressure on Drew Brees clearly is a priority and the actives this week not only include Nick Reed, coming off a good game against Atlanta, but also undrafted rookie free agent Mario Addison. Both are speed rushers and should be factors on the artificial turf.
But right guard Lance Louis is active after missing practice this week with the ankle sprain suffered in the first half of the Atlanta game. Also inactive: defensive tackle Stephen Paea, quarterback Nathan Enderle and running back Marion Barber, who hasnt been able to play since his calf injury in the Tennessee preseason game.
The Saints will be without wide receiver Marques Colston (broken collarbone). But No. 2 wideout Lance Moore is active despite limited practice this week.
John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.