By Dan Durkin-
(CBS) It was a back-to-work Monday for the Bears at Halas Hall. The general consensus among players and coaches was the bye week couldn’t have come at a better time. Physically, the team needed the extra rest to heal up — particularly on defense — and collectively, the team needed a week away from the noise surrounding the team’s disappointing 3-5 first half.
The Bears officially put defensive end Lamarr Houston (ruptured ACL) on the reserve/injured list, putting an end to his disappointing season. Houston was the team’s biggest splash in free agency, signing a five-year, $35 million contract with $14.9 million guaranteed. Through eight games, Houston was officially credited with 11 total tackles and one sack.
Defensive end David Bass will take Houston’s place on the roster after being signed off the practice squad. As a rookie last year, Bass appeared in 13 games with one start, registering 20.5 tackles — including one sack and two-and-a-half tackles for loss — and one interception, which he returned for a touchdown.
In other injury news, offensive lineman Eben Britton recently had an appendectomy, and linebacker Darryl Sharpton is dealing with a hamstring injury. Both players are “week to week.”
Wide receiver Marquees Wilson isn’t expected to be on the field this Sunday at Green Bay. Wilson is working his way back from a broken clavicle he suffered during training camp.
Defensive end Trevor Scott was excused for personal reasons.
Mills working at left guard
The Bears also recently lost left guard Matt Slauson for the season with a torn pectoral muscle. During practice, the first-team offensive line was (from left-to-right) Jermon Bushrod, Jordan Mills, Roberto Garza, Brian de la Puente, Kyle Long and Michael Ola.
While it was encouraging that Mills was able to make 16 starts as a rookie and six this season, he’s struggled at right tackle. His inability to mirror pass rushers in one-on-one situations was routinely exposed, requiring the Bears to chip on the right edge with tight ends and running backs.
So, perhaps this move to guard — as foreign as it may be to Mills, who hasn’t played guard since high school — may be permanent. He acknowledged it will be an adjustment to deal with quicker contact against bigger players inside.
“At guard, defensive tackles are going to be there right now, so it’s more sudden and quicker contact,” Mills said. “It’s different, instead of having a 260, 270 (pound), 4.5-4.6 (40-yard time) guy coming off the edge in a wide-five or a wide-nine (technique), you have a 300-pound plus dude in a three-technique that is right there in your face. So that is something I’ve got to get used to.”
Looking ahead, the Bears face a long list of talented three-techniques. They have two matchups against Detroit’s Ndamukong Suh and one apiece against Tampa bay’s Gerald McCoy and Dallas’ Henry Melton, an ex-Bear. The ability for the quarterback to step up in the pocket is critical for the Bears offense to operate, so Mills must quickly adapt to his new role.
Dan Durkin covers the Bears for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @djdurkin.