How thin are the Bears at defensive tackle?
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The defense, which has yet to hold an opponent under 21 points in five games, came into Sunday's game already short-handed inside. Pro Bowl 3-technique tackle Henry Melton is on injured reserve after suffering a torn ACL in his left knee in Week Three, and starting nose tackle Stephen Paea sat out Sunday with a toe injury.
And it got worse. Midway through the third quarter, the Bears lost Nate Collins, who was subbing for Paea, to a knee injury. Collins was able to walk off the field -- but did so very slowly. It's possible neither he nor Paea will be available Thursday night against the Giants.
"I don't know how he's doing," coach Marc Trestman said of Collins. "We'll know more Monday. It's next man up, again."
The problem is, the Bears are running out of next men, at least men who can play defensive tackle.
Four-year veteran journeyman Landon Cohen, who was signed off the street 10 days ago, was announced as the starting nose tackle in place of Paea. But, instead, defensive end Corey Wootton moved inside to play the 3-technique and Collins started on the nose.
Cohen, who was waived by the Cowboys on Sept. 17 after playing in two games, is with his eighth NFL team. He saw limited action even after Collins went down, and undrafted rookie Zach Minter, who was active for the first time, didn't get on the field at all. That left Wootton and defensive ends Julius Peppers and Shea McClellin to work overtime.
The patchwork defense still held the Saints to 347 total yards, 73 less than their average.
"You can't sit around and wait for somebody to come rescue you," Peppers said. "The guys that we have, we have to play with those guys, and try to get everybody healthy."
Dealing with it:
The Bears face the Giants on short rest Thursday night, but they're not complaining about it.
"We don't care about that," defensive end Julius Peppers said. "We're going to play what the schedule is. If they ask us to play tomorrow, we'll be here tomorrow to play. We're not going to make a big deal about having a short week because that's an excuse. We're just going to get ready to play the game."
By the numbers:
Punter Adam Podlesh rebounded from last week's horrible outing with one of his better performances as a Bear, averaging 44.8 yards net, 6.3 yards better his average over the first four games.
His second kick, a 54-yarder that was angled out of bounds, pinned the Saints at their 11-yard line. The Saints had a total of 2 punt-return yards.
In and out:
Two rookies, wide receiver Marquess Wilson and defensive tackle Zach Minter, were active for the first time this season, and for the first time this season, tight end Steve Maneri was a healthy scratch.
Sunday's other inactives were cornerback C.J. Wilson, safety Anthony Walters (hamstring), offensive linemen James Brown and Jonathan Scott, defensive tackle Stephen Paea (toe) and rookie defensive end Cornelius Washington, who saw his first NFL snaps a week earlier.