By Adam Hoge-
HALAS HALL (CBS) —
A short week could leave the Bears shorthanded Thursday night against the Giants.
Following the team’s third and final walkthrough Wednesday at Halas Hall, Bears head coach Marc Trestman said defensive tackle Stephen Paea (turf toe), linebacker Lance Briggs (hip), cornerback Charles Tillman (knee) and tight end Martellus Bennett (knee) were listed as questionable and their status would be determined by 5 p.m. Thursday when inactives need to be declared.
“We’ll know more tomorrow,” Trestman said. “We’re optimistic they’ll all be there but we don’t know for sure.”
The biggest question mark is Paea, who missed Sunday’s game against the Saints and has not practiced since suffering the injury against the Lions Sept. 29. The Bears say he would have been limited in practice Tuesday and Wednesday had they practiced, so that is a sign the toe is improving.
Meanwhile, it would be surprising if Tillman, Briggs and Bennett don’t play. Tillman was listed as questionable with groin and knee issues the last two weeks and played through them. This week, the groin has been dropped from the injury report. Bennett said Wednesday that he is feeling “great right now” and Briggs was listed as a full participant Tuesday had they practiced.
Four players are listed as probable for the game: wide receiver Joe Anderson (knee), offensive lineman Eben Britton (foot), left tackle Jermon Bushrod (calf) and wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (ankle).
Must Win Game?
Sitting a 3-2 with an 0-5 Giants team coming to Soldier Field on a short week suggests that this is one the Bears can’t afford to lose.
But Marc Trestman is ready to stray away from his mentality that every game is the most important game.
“This is game six, is what it is,” he said. “We certainly have to play better. Does that determine our season? We know the answer to that. It doesn’t. But we certainly have a sense of urgency and a time-is-of-the-essence mentality that we want. But we want to have that mentality every week. That’s the National Football League. We’ve got a long way to go.
“This is one (game) but it’s extremely important. It’s the most important game we’ll ever play because it’s the only one we’re going to get. That’s the mentality we’ve got to have. And when it’s over, you set the tone for next week. That’s how I see it.”
Defending The Offense
The Bears offense undoubtedly looked back in the first quarter against the Saints Sunday, but offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer was ready to defend the productivity of his offense Wednesday when he met with reporters.
“Right now if you look at statistically where we are and that’s all a lot of people do, we’re seventh in the league in rushing yards per carry and we’re sixth in the league in sacks given up,” Kromer said. “So as we have one quarter and everyone panics that we can’t play football anymore in Chicago, I say they’re wrong because when you really look at the whole season and the whole product that we’ve put out there at this point we are in the top 10 in both of those categories.”
Overall, the Bears rank 11th in total offense with 368.6 yards per game. Last year they ranked 28th with 310.6 yards per game.
Bad Game For Forte
While Kromer defended the offense as a whole, he wasn’t as kind about the game Matt Forte had against the Saints.
“Yeah, he had one fumble and he had one missed key, so he had a horrible game,” Kromer said. “But that’s football. It’s an imperfect game played by imperfect people and every week someone gets on the news and says, ‘hey, we had mistakes and that’s what lost the game.’ You have to overcome them. There are going to be mistakes in a game. You have to play the next play and play better the next play so you can win the game.”
– Kromer dismissed the notion that the Bears are “predictable” when they bring offensive lineman Eben Britton in as a sixth blocker. He insisted that they run both passes and runs out of the formation based on the defense and said that it’s something he has always done.
“In my history and our history of football we’ve used an offensive lineman at tight end 10 to 16 times a game and it’s really helped in both protection schemes and in the run game.”
– Both Trestman and Kromer stressed the importance of the turnover ratio after the Bears were minus-1 in that department against the Saints. The Bears are currently sixth in the league with a plus-4 turnover ratio while the Giants are dead last with a minus-32.
– The Bears are 4-4 all-time on Thursday nights, dating back to 1985. Only one of those games was played at Soldier Field — a 27-24 overtime win over the Saints in 2008.
Adam Hoge covers the Bears for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamHoge.