Injuries forcing Chicago Bears' defense to go young

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Chicago Bears nose tackle Eddie Goldman (91) is taken by cart off the field after an injury during the second half of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Monday, Sept. 19, 2016, in Chicago.

    Chicago Bears nose tackle Eddie Goldman (91) is taken by cart off the field after an injury during the second half of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Monday, Sept. 19, 2016, in Chicago.

 
 
Updated 9/28/2016 8:04 PM

There isn't much the Chicago Bears' defense has done well through three weeks.

Coordinator Vic Fangio's crew is 31st in rushing yards allowed, tied for 24th in points allowed, 25th in interception percentage, tied for 22nd in third-down efficiency and 20th in sacks.

 

And with youngsters being force fed playing time because of injures to key veterans, the immediate future doesn't bode well.

But, as head coach John Fox says, "They're not going to cancel the games and no one's coming to the rescue."

So Fangio is tasked with accelerating the learning curve for young players while he waits for the return of veterans such as nose tackle Eddie Goldman (high ankle sprain) and inside linebacker Danny Trevathan, which isn't imminent.

Fangio acknowledges the "obvious" difficulty of fielding an inexperienced group, but he says there's also a positive side.

"There is no better way for young players to develop than to play," the defensive coordinator said Wednesday. "So it's a little bit of both."

Goldman's absence in the middle creates a void that the Dallas Cowboys exploited Sunday night with 199 rushing yards.

"We were getting blocked and not getting off blocks well enough," Fangio said. "A guy or two every time was just getting blocked."

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Backup Will Sutton and just-acquired street free agent C.J. Wilson cannot replace what the Bears miss without Goldman. They do bring experience but not the same skill set as Goldman.

"(It's) just his overall good play (and) stoutness," Fangio said of 6-foot-4, 320-pound Goldman. "He's one of our better defensive players, and when you miss an anchor in there, it can hurt you."

Unfortunately for the Bears, injuries have affected all three levels of the defense. Christian Jones, John Anderson and rookie Nick Kwiatkoski all were used to fill in for Trevathan in different situations Sunday night. Jones played 26 snaps; Kwiatkoski and Anderson each got 18.

"He did OK," Fangio said of Kwiatkoski, the fourth-round pick who was playing in his first NFL game. "Again, he was part of those guys that got blocked some. Had some good plays, some not so good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"The first play of the game that popped out of there for 21 yards, he was at the point of attack on that one. It was OK, (but we) hope for better, expect better moving forward."

Anderson was waived Tuesday, making room for John Timu's promotion from the practice squad. Timu is expected to contribute immediately on special teams and could get snaps at inside linebacker. Anderson was re-signed to the practice squad Wednesday.

In the secondary, Jacoby Glenn has started all three games and his play has been uneven. He leads the team with 5 pass breakups but was victimized on several deep balls against the Cowboys.

"He's made some good plays on some deep balls and down the field, which has been good," Fangio said. "We've got to get him to play tighter and more aggressive on the shorter throws and improve his overall play."

Undrafted rookie Cre'Von LeBlanc got 32 snaps as the nickel corner in Week 3 in place of second-year player Bryce Callahan, who still was in the concussion protocol.

But Callahan was back at full practice Wednesday.

Either he or Le'Blanc could get a shot at the starting lineup, since Kyle Fuller (knee), who hasn't played all year, went on injured reserve Tuesday and cannot return for at least eight weeks.

Yet another rookie could be thrown into the deep end and forced to swim if fourth-round pick Deon Bush is called on to replace second-year man Harold Jones-Quartey, who is in the concussion protocol.

So there's no doubt the Bears are getting an opportunity to develop young players. The difficult part is getting improved play as a team.

"We're seeing some growth, we are, but not enough yet," Fangio said. "We're 0-3, and everybody's got their fingerprints on that record."

• Follow Bob's Bears reports on Twitter @BobLeGere.

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