Bears lose another defensive lineman
Short rest is the last thing the Bears' injury-ravaged defensive line needs, but that's what the schedule makers have dialed up for Marc Trestman's team this week.
Nate Collins, who started the second game of his four-year NFL career Sunday against New Orleans, didn't finish it.
He saw his season end in the third quarter because of a torn ACL in his left knee that will require surgery and at least an eight-month rehab. Collins was having his best game of the season and had the highest grade of any Bears lineman against the Saints, according to Pro Football Focus.
Two weeks earlier, Pro Bowl defensive tackle Henry Melton was lost for the season with the same injury.
Nose tackle Stephen Paea, consistently the Bears' highest-graded defensive lineman the first four weeks, missed the Saints game with a toe injury. Even if he's back Thursday night against the New York Giants, he won't be 100 percent.
"It's the National Football League, and it's the next man up," Trestman said for what seemed like the umpteenth time. "We all know the guys we have here, (and) we'll continue to look around and see what's out there."
Neither of those options provides much cause for optimism. Healthy tackles on the roster include Landon Cohen, who was signed as a free agent Sept. 27, and undrafted rookie Zach Minter.
Cohen, who played 15 snaps at Detroit two days after being signed, was on the field for 28 snaps against the Saints but was not credited with a tackle, according to press-box statistics.
Minter was active Sunday for the first time but did not play a single snap.
But the 6-foot-1, 297-pound Minter should have an opportunity to help Thursday, especially if Paea is limited.
"We're going to talk more about that this week," Trestman said. "We've been working hard to develop him. He's done some really good things, so that's certainly a point of discussion."
Defensive end Corey Wootton has been forced to play inside, where he's not as comfortable or effective, and that leaves 33-year-old Julius Peppers and Shea McClellin as the only experienced defensive ends.
McClellin played 64 of the Bears' 68 snaps Sunday, Wootton played 62 and Peppers 59, the three highest totals this season for Bears defensive linemen. David Bass was impressive as a pass rusher on 14 snaps and could see more time vs. the Giants.
Using the starters for so many snaps could lead to players wearing down later in the season.
But Trestman doesn't have the luxury of worrying about the distant future when his team has an excellent opportunity to purge a two-game losing streak with the winless Giants coming to town.
"I can't be concerned about anything," Trestman said. "I've just got to relate to the present, and that is we've got to go out and play Thursday night with the guys that we have that are healthy.
"And then when this game is over, we'll have a couple of extra days, and we'll be able to kind of gather ourselves and see where we are with the present situation."
After the Bears play their second game in five days, they don't play for 10 days and the get another 14 days off, thanks to a bye in Week 8. But expecting anyone to come in off the street on a short week and help win a game in two days is unrealistic.
"They're not going to practice, so that's going to be difficult," Trestman said. "We did that with Landon. If there's a guy like Cohen who can come in and knows the system we can get (him) out there because he hardly had any reps either and we played him.
"(But) the guys that have been here are the guys that are generally going to have to play."
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