By Dan Durkin-
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (CBS) — The Bears have won back-to-back primetime games on the road after a 27-19 win against the Jets on Monday, but they’re coming at a price. Injuries are piling up, particularly in the defensive secondary. Safety Chris Conte’s recurring shoulder injury prevented him from finishing the game.
Conte counterpart Ryan Mundy suffered a stinger late in the game, and reserve safety Danny McCray was lost for a few plays down the stretch.
At one point, the Bears were lining up with rookies Brock Vereen and newly signed Ahmad Dixon as the two safeties. Dixon was signed to contribute as a special teams player, yet there he was on defense on Monday Night Football.
“My nerves were going crazy,” Dixon said. “I was just trying to calm myself down. Lance Briggs turned around and realized that my eyes were as big as a deer in headlights, and I was a little shook up. He told me, ‘Calm down, it’s just football.'”
Earlier in the game, Dixon recovered a fumble on a punt. The rookie is making a positive impact on a special teams unit that needs a boost.
We won’t likely know the extent of everyone’s injuries until coach Marc Trestman meets with the media Wednesday afternoon.
The Bears also played without center Roberto Garza (ankle), guard Matt Slauson (ankle), linebacker Shea McClellin (hand), defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff (concussion) and reserve cornerback Sherrick McManis (quad).
Quick count caught Jets off guard
The Bears once again struggled to move the ball on the ground, gaining only 60 yards on 21 carries. Late in the game, however, they were able to string together 14 yards on back-to-back carries. On a crucial third-and-2 play, the Bears caught the Jets off guard with a quick count on a toss to the perimeter.
“We had talked about it on the sidelines,” quarterback Jay Cutler said. “That’s a play that we have. It’s just so hard to run in between the tackles against these guys, they’ve got these big guys, they’re stacking the box, they’ve got the linebackers up in the A-gap. So we just kind of had to manage something there.”
That play set the Bears up with a fresh set of downs and set Robbie Gould up with a closer field goal attempt (45 yards), which he converted to make in an eight-point game.
Defense is playing ‘greedy’
Cornerback Charles Tillman is lost for the season, but you wouldn’t know it by his continued involvement with the team. Just last week, Trestman said the doors to Halas Hall are always open to Tillman, who was at practice all week and traveled with the team.
First-round rookie Kyle Fuller has three interceptions and reminded fans of Tillman with a “Peanut Punch” forced fumble of his own on the sidelines that was nearly recovered by the Bears. Fuller said the defense is playing “greedy,” and Tillman continues to provide guidance for him.
“We have conversations all the time,” Fuller said. “He’s always a mentor to me and able to help me out. I was definitely glad to hear that (Tillman traveled with the team). I wasn’t surprised, but I knew I would still be able to learn from him and I am thankful for it.”
Dan Durkin covers the Bears for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @djdurkin.