Nickel cornerback D.J. Moore hasn’t lost his job to Kelvin Hayden — yet — but he has lost playing time to the eight-year veteran and former Falcons and Colts player.
Moore has 5 pass breakups and 2 interceptions this year, and he had 4 picks in each of the previous two seasons, when he developed a reputation for making big plays on the ball.
But Hayden played more than Moore against the Titans and had 2 fumble recoveries.
“If we have a player that we think we can win with, and after we play them they make some plays for us, we’re going to play them,” was the explanation from coach Lovie Smith.
“Defensive line, we have four starters, but a lot of guys play. We try to keep that approach with a lot of positions. Especially defensively, you can do that.
“D.J. Moore and Kelvin Hayden both have certain skills that we think will benefit our team if both of them play. The last few weeks, that is how we’ve seen it. It may be a little bit different this week.”
Both players had 2 tackles Sunday, according to press-box statistics. Utilizing both could give the Bears the luxury of playing matchups.
At 6 feet and 195 pounds, Hayden could be more effective against bigger receivers than the 5-9, 180-pound Moore, the Bears’ fourth-round pick in 2009 out of Vanderbilt.
“I can’t go into all of the details,” Smith said. “I’ll just say they are both good players, and we’ll look at the matchups that we have and other things to decide exactly what playing time each guy will get.”
Spreading the wealth:
Even when Brandon Marshall was catching 106 passes for 2,590 yards while he was working with Jay Cutler in Denver in 2007-08, he never caught 3 TD passes in one game.
“That was special, but the thing we really want to get going is the other guys,” said Marshall, who was targeted 10 times and had 9 catches for 122 yards.
“Having 3 touchdowns is good, but I really want to get Earl Bennett going and Devin Hester going, and we’re going to really work hard to get that going this week.
“Those guys work hard, and they’re open, but the way teams are playing us, they’re just leaving a lot of opportunities for me.
“Being the No. 1 receiver, it feels good taking advantage of opportunities like that, but I want to see those guys get going a little bit.”
Bennett was targeted eight times and had 4 receptions for 22 yards, while Hester was targeted twice and caught 2 passes for 19 yards.
Marshall is on pace for 118 receptions this season, along with 1,594 yards and 14 touchdowns.
The 7-1 Bears face the 7-1 Houston Texans on Sunday night at Soldier Field in a nationally televised game that will no doubt be hyped as a possible Super Bowl preview.
“I know they’re pretty excited,” Bears coach Lovie Smith said of the Texans. “NBC is pretty excited. Everybody should be excited about a game like this at the halfway point.
“Offensively, they can do it all. And on the other side of the ball, statistically they have to be right at the top of the charts. At this point of the year, for you to have a 7-1 record, you’re a pretty good football team.”
Rookie wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, who has missed the past three games with a broken hand, will be re-evaluated this week and could return to practice.
Defensive end Israel Idonije (knee) and defensive tackle Henry Melton (back) were injured Sunday but returned to the game. Both, especially Idonije, could be limited in practice this week.Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.