With left defensive end Shea McClellin not expected to play today because of a hamstring injury, David Bass takes another step up what he hopes is the ladder of opportunity.
When tackles Henry Melton and Nate Collins were lost for the season with knee injuries, Corey Wootton was moved inside from left defensive end to fill the void. That made Bass the top backup to starters McClellin and Julius Peppers.
He had a career-best 3 tackles against the Packers and in the previous game played a personal-best 30 snaps. That's a far cry from his numbers at Missouri Western State, where he started 50 games and had 40½ sacks.
That's right -- Missouri Western State -- in Saint Joseph, Missouri, enrollment 6,010, NCAA Division-II.
"Oh, it's a very big step," the 6-foot-4, 256-pound Bass said. "But I've heard guys that came from bigger schools say it's still a huge step up, the intensity and the speed of the game. Everybody here is physically strong and fast.
"In D-II, you probably have a small group of core players who really can compete at this level, and then you have a lot of guys who are just out there because a lot of teams don't have any depth. Everybody here is good. Like we used to say back at school, 'Find that fish and you're going to attack it.' Up here, everybody's a shark, so you have to bring your all every play."
Bass has 6 tackles, 2 quarterback pressures and a tackle for loss so far, but is still looking for his first sack. He should get some opportunities against the Lions.
"He's getting better," Peppers said. "We're getting him in there so he can get some reps and try to develop him. He's coming along well, and we're going to need him to play this week. He's one of the young guys that we're counting on."
Young man's game:
Rookie right guard Kyle Long will start his ninth NFL game today. That's four more games than he started at Oregon, where he played his only season of major college football.
"Everything that Kyle Long does in a game is brand new, he hasn't done it before," said offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Aaron Kromer. "It's a growing process for Kyle in every practice, every day, every drill.
"And then you get so much information that you forget what you knew before and you forget Day One. So it's a constant process.
"Anytime you're starting a rookie -- it doesn't matter who it is -- anytime a rookie's starting in the National Football League, it's all new to him. Every situation's new, and I think he's handled most of them well. And he's still got a long way to go."
Each of the Bears' first four draft picks is expected to start today: fifth-rounder Jordan Mills at right tackle, and second-rounder Jon Bostic and fourth-rounder Khaseem Greene at linebacker.
They catch, too:
What stood out to offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer from the game-clinching, eight-minute, 58-second, 80-yard, 18-play drive that sealed the victory over the Packers?
"First off, you can't get a drive like that without your wide receivers blocking," Kromer said. "That's something that our receivers are willing to do. You watch Alshon Jeffery, Brandon Marshall, Earl (Bennett), these guys will block and they're big and they're physical."