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posted: 12/20/2012 8:45 PM

Cardinals' quarterback a mystery to Bears

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  • Cardinals rookie quarterback Ryan Lindley will be making his fourth NFL start Sunday when the Bears visit Arizona.

      Cardinals rookie quarterback Ryan Lindley will be making his fourth NFL start Sunday when the Bears visit Arizona.
    Associated Press

 
 

The casual fan may not be familiar with Cardinals rookie quarterback Ryan Lindley, and neither are the Bears.

"I've heard of Lindley," Bears linebacker Lance Briggs said. "I've heard of a few Lindleys. I actually went to school with a girl named Lindsey Lindley. I know a Kevin Lindley from Sacramento, but that's about it."

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This Lindley is a sixth-round pick from San Diego State. He will be making his fourth NFL start Sunday and has yet to throw a touchdown pass but has been intercepted six times for a passer rating of 45.0.

But he was the winning quarterback in Arizona's 38-10 rout of the Detroit Lions last week, completing 14 of 21 passes for 104 yards with 1 interception to help his team snap a nine-game losing streak.

"I don't think we put him in the Colin Kaepernick category," Briggs said. "We'll see. That's the quarterback the Cardinals are going with, so we need to be prepared for him."

San Francisco's Kaepernick, a second-year player, made his first NFL start a month ago against the Bears and torched them for 243 yards and 2 touchdowns while completing 16 of 23 passes and a 133.1 passer rating.

Lindley isn't as well known as Kaepernick, who was an early second-round pick.

Bears defensive tackle Henry Melton, who is expected back in the starting lineup after missing last week with a chest injury, was asked what he knows about the Cardinals' quarterback.

"Nothing," said Melton, who added he didn't know the 6-foot-3, 232-pounder's name. "I don't want to know his name. I don't even know his number. That's all I'm going to aim for."

If Melton is able to play -- he practiced Thursday -- he and the D-line should have plenty to aim for. Only the 49ers have been sacked more frequently than the Cardinals, although the Lions got to Lindley just once last week.

"He's got good pocket awareness in terms of moving around," defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said. "He's got a nice arm. They're really trying to run the ball and get the play-action going down the field. And he's working to take care of the ball."

The Bears are working to regain the take-away touch that fueled their 7-1 start. The defense has just 2 interceptions in the past five games after getting 19 in the first nine.

In addition to Melton, they hope to have NFL interception leader Tim Jennings back at cornerback vs. after he missed two games with a separated shoulder.

"That's huge," Briggs said. "They're two of our playmakers, game-changing players. Those two guys will make a difference this week."

The Bears also hope to have rookie Shea McClellin back, working in the defensive-end rotation with Israel Idonije behind starters Julius Peppers and Corey Wootton.

Peppers (8), Wootton (7) and Idonije (5) have combined for 21 sacks. They will be going against a pair of rookie offensive tackles, seventh-rounder Nate Potter on the left side and fourth-rounder Bobby Massie on the right.

It would seem to be an opportune time for the Bears to rekindle the pass-rush fire they showed early in the season.

They had 21 sacks in the first six games but have just 15 in the last eight. Melton is third on the Bears with 6 sacks but has just 2 in the last 10 games.

"The biggest thing for us defensively is, we have to get back to what we were doing weeks ago," said Wootton, who has 2 sacks in the past two weeks.

"We've got to get the turnovers. And, if they don't score, they don't win. That's the mindset that we have this week."

With an offense that has scored more than 17 points just once in the previous six games, the Bears' defense has the right idea.

rlegere@dailyherald.com

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