Bears Inactives: WR Earl Bennett, OL Chris Williams, DT Matt Toeaina, DT Nate Collins, DE Cheta Ozougwu, OL Edwin Williams.
Cowboys Inactives: OLB Anthony Spencer, NT Jay Ratliff, DE Kenyon Coleman, C Phil Costa, P Chris Jones, S Matt Johnson, LB Alex Albright.
Important players inactive for each team tonight. The good news for the Bears, though, is of course that running back Matt Forte (ankle) is not on that list of players. Lovie Smith even considered Forte a game-time decision as of this morning, but Forte will suit up and is expected to get his regular load at running back. You'll also notice that backup running back (and short-yardage gold mine) Michael Bush is not on that list. However, the Chicago Tribune's Vaughn McClure tweeted this earlier today:
Keep an eye on Michael Bush, though. Heard he's really toughin it out with a shoulder injury that might be significant.So, yeah, that's something to monitor/be concerned about.
— vaughn mcclure (@vxmcclure23) October 1, 2012
Now, about the players that are actually inactive. Earl Bennett (hand/wrist) being out is a huge loss for the Bears. He's the starting slot receiver, and is a very popular target for Jay Cutler on third down. Just how reliable are Bennett's hands? He leads the NFL in lowest drop rate over the last three years. Expect Dane Sanzenbacher (active for the first time this season) to get a lot of playing time in the slot in place of Bennett (Devin Hester and Eric Weems may see some snaps there as well).
What's particularly alarming is that Chris Williams is inactive, and is not believed to have an injury. Talk about being in the doghouse. J'Marcus Webb certainly hasn't played well, and one more bad performance could put him on the bench. But, if that were to happen, apparently veteran tackle Jonathan Scott would move in to his place, rather than Williams. I think it's very fair to wonder if Phil Emery will shop Williams before the week 8 trade deadline. The fact that he can't even get playing time on the Bears' crappy offensive line certainly can't look good to teams, but remember that he was a first round pick and looked solid at guard last season for the Bears. Some team may be willing to give the Bears a late-round pick for him. Sure, the Bears would just get a late-round pick back, but that's way more valuable than an inactive tackle in the team's dog house, and out of the team's future plans (it would appear).
Defensive tackles Matt Toeaina and Nate Collins are inactive again as well. This means only three defensive tackles are active (Henry Melton, Stephen Paea, and Amobi Okoye), again. And that's just fine since those three players are playing their asses off, and the Bears continue to rotate defensive ends inside on passing downs.
For the Cowboys, they're without 3 starters in their front 7, with Anthony Spencer's absence the biggest headliner. Earlier today, it was reported that the Cowboys expected him to play tonight, but apparently he woke up with more discomfort and they're playing it safe with their outside linebacker that is terrific in stopping the run. Still, even though these three players are inactive, pass-rushing terror DeMarcus Ware will be playing, and finding a way (somehow) to prevent him from getting to Cutler is easily my biggest fear going into this one.
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