Scaling back the normal Wednesday practice to a walk-through was practically a matter of necessity for the battered Bears.
Eleven of 53 players would not have participated in a practice, even if coach Lovie Smith chose to have one.
The list of walking wounded includes seven starters: quarterback Jay Cutler (neck/knee), linebackers Lance Briggs (knee/hip) and Brian Urlacher (hamstring), tight end Kellen Davis (knee), cornerback Tim Jennings (shoulder), defensive tackle Henry Melton (chest) and offensive tackle Jonathan Scott (shoulder).
Wide receiver Earl Bennett (concussion), running back Michael Bush (ribs), linebacker Geno Hayes (knee) and defensive end Shea McClellin (knee) also would not have participated. Cornerback Charles Tillman (shoulder), defensive tackle Stephen Paea (foot) and guard Chris Spencer (knee) all would have gone through a full practice.
“We have a lot of guys banged up,” Smith said. “I just felt like we could get more work done (in) meetings (and a) walk-through. After a Monday night game we let the guys really heal up. We just felt like another day to heal up would benefit us more than trying to go out there and having guys double up on a lot of things.
“If we had all of our guys healthy, we would be out there practicing.”
Room for improvement:
When asked about his neck injury, quarterback Jay Cutler said: “I feel good. I’ll be ready on Sunday.”
Cutler’s numbers against the Packers as a member of the Bears are painful to look at. In seven starts, he’s been intercepted 15 times while throwing just 8 touchdown passes for a passer rating of 60.5 and a won-loss record of 1-6.
What can the offense do better against the Packers?
“A lot of things,” Cutler said. “It’s not one area. I’ve got to play better, first and foremost, and get the rest of the guys up to speed with me. You’ve got to run the ball better, you’ve got to pass the ball better, you’ve got to block better. There’s no one area that we can’t improve in.”
Asked and answered:
Coach Lovie Smith had a ready answer even before the latest question about his future employment had been asked.
“Why in the world would we be talking about a contract with Green Bay week here?” he said. “What I can talk about is I’m excited about playing the Packers again. We need to win. They’ve had our number for a while, and it’s a division opponent, your rival, you need to beat them.
“That’s all we’re talking about is that, and for me or anybody else to talk about anything else, that’s just related to that person, we don’t do it that way.”
Jay Cutler was asked if he thought the team was playing for Smith’s job.
“Everyone’s playing for their job at this point,” the quarterback said. “It’s not just Lovie. It’s myself, it’s the offensive line, it’s the receivers.
“At this point of the season you’ve got to band together, and we’ve just got to figure out ways to win. That’s the most important thing is just wins.”
Up to speed:
After a three-game stretch in which he had a total of 5 receiving yards on 7 catches for an average of 0.7 yards per reception, running back Matt Forte has 9 catches for 64 yards (7.1-yard average) in the past two games. His 85 rushing yards on 13 carries last week represented his most productive game in five weeks.
“We want to keep finding ways to get Matt the ball,” offensive coordinator Mike Tice said. “Matt is hot right now, and we’ve got to find ways to get him more touches. Playmakers that are coming through for us and being explosive, we’ve just got to keep going down that alley.”
Back for more:
Defensive tackle Amobi Okoye was re-signed Wednesday two weeks after being released.Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.