Hoge’s Notes: Injuries, Weather Could Impact Bears’ Offense Sunday
By Adam Hoge-
HALAS HALL (CBS) — You know about the devastating injuries on the Bears’ defense, but the offense might be impacted Sunday against the Ravens by two injuries that popped up mid-week.
Right tackle Jordan Mills (quad) and tight end Martellus Bennett (ankle) both showed up on the injury report Thursday and could be limited in their ability Sunday. Mills is probable to play, but if his movement is hampered at all, the Bears might need to bring extra protection to the right side to help him.
“We try to help our protection,” Bears head coach Marc Trestman said Friday. “We know we’ve got some serious pass rushers coming on the edge. In every game plan, you say, ‘Who are the difference makers?’ Certainly they have a number of them defensively.”
In particular, the Bears will be tested by rushing outside linebackers Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil, who have a combined 17 sacks.
“They’re gonna have their 1-on-1s, no doubt about it. They’ve got to step up and do that, and we expect they will,” Trestman said. “That’s how we do it every week. We try to pinpoint the guys that can make a difference in a game. Those certainly are two guys, their sack totals are pretty impressive together. So we’ve got to be ready for that.”
Bennett is one of those guys who can provide help on the edge, but he is listed as questionable. After taking Thursday off, he took 50 percent of the snaps in practice Friday and the Bears seem optimistic that he will play.
“We tried to be smart with him,” Trestman said. “But he got work in today and did well and hopefully with 48 hours, he’ll feel even better. We got some execution done with him. It was good.”
Just Bennett’s presence on the field is important for the Bears as the tight end commands coverage and creates mismatches across the field. If he can’t go, it will surely have an impact on what the Bears are able to do offensively. The only other true tight end on the 53-man roster is Dante Rosario.
McClellin, Mannelly Likely Out
Defensive end Shea McClellin will likely miss his second straight game with a hamstring injury. He did side work with the trainers for the third straight day, but he was not able to practice all week. The Bears officially listed him as doubtful for Sunday.
Longsnapper Patrick Mannelly (calf) will also likely miss his second straight game. He, too, was listed as doubtful and Jeremy Cain is expected to handle the long snapper duties again Sunday.
Wind Could Be A Factor
Trestman often says that wind affects football games more than any other weather element and it could certainly be an issue Sunday.
The forecast at Soldier Field is currently calling for a high temperature of 63 degrees with an 80 percent chance of rain and wind at 28 miles per hour out of the southwest.
Trestman said Friday he has “resources within the game plan” to handle the weather conditions, beyond just the obvious concepts of running into the wind and taking advantage in the passing game when it’s at your back.
“Your play selection can dictate that, into the crosswind, certainly what you do outside the numbers is affected as well and depths of routes and things like that,” the head coach said. “It’s all incorporated in the framework of the game plan that you have the resources, the tools, the plays – I’m talking offensively, certainly to get that done. And then how you call defenses certainly is predicated on the type of wind an offense is facing.”
Trestman has his team practice inside the Walter Payton Center more than Lovie Smith used to, mainly because he wants to have clean practices.
“The wind and the environment can affect practice,” Trestman said.
The Bears went back outside Friday, as they did last Friday for their final practice of the week. Most of the installation happens on Wednesday and Thursday and being inside allows the process to happen more cleanly.
“I don’t get as concerned about game day weather,” the head coach said. “The adrenaline’s up and the guys are ready to play. The temperature really isn’t a factor on game day.”
Ravens On The Mend
A number of key defensive players returned to practice Friday for the Ravens.
Nose tackle Haloti Ngata (knee), defensive end Chris Canty (knee), middle linebacker Daryl Smith (hamstring) and cornerback Lardarius Webb (groin) were all back at practice after missing Thursday’s session. Suggs (neck) also practiced after being limited Thursday.
Ngata, Smith and Webb are all listed as questionable for Sunday, along with safety James Idedigbo (toe), cornerback Jimmy Smith (groin) and wide receiver Marlon Brown (knee).
Canty and Suggs are probable, along with running back Bernard Pierce (toe/knee) and wide receiver Brandon Stokley (thigh).
– Per Pro Football Focus, Dumervil has the highest Pass Rush Productivity amongst 3-4 outside linebackers at 15.4. Suggs is 13th at 10.3.
– Trestman said Friday that his staff doesn’t change coaching styles week-to-week based on wins and losses.
“We give our players dignity. We’re extremely demanding. We expect a high standard. Our players do as well,” he said.
– Defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff was officially ruled out for Sunday’s game as expected. Not only is he continuing to rehab his groin injury, but the Bears are working on getting his conditioning level up too.
Adam Hoge covers the Bears for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamHoge.