Posted by Matt Clapp | 11/27/2012 06:02:00 PM | Amobi Okoye, Andre Gurode, Charles Tillman, Chris Spencer, Dale Moss, Derek Dennis, Devin Hester, Jason Babin, Lance Briggs, Lance Louis, Matt Forte, Nate Collins
I wasn't able to use a computer on Monday to write about Bears guard Lance Louis, but as I'm sure you've heard by now, Louis was diagnosed with a torn ACL and placed on injured reserve after taking a cheap shot from Vikings defensive end Jared Allen in the Bears' victory Sunday at Soldier Field. Louis was the Bears' starting right guard, and the Bears' most consistent offensive lineman. So, it's a huge loss for a struggling Bears offensive line.
And Louis was just one of many Bears suffer an injury on Sunday. Three stars in running back Matt Forte, cornerback Charles Tillman, and linebacker Lance Briggs suffered ankle injuries. Additionally, wide receiver Devin Hester suffered a concussion, and Chris Spencer suffered a knee injury.
Forte's ankle injury looked bad at the time, but is not believed to be a severe injury. Still, with a very capable backup in Michael Bush at running back, the Bears will surely play it safe with Forte and let his ankle fully heal.
Tillman reportedly has a chipped bone in his right foot, but may be able to play through it against the Seahawks.
Briggs' injury is not believed to be serious, and it sounds like he left in a boot on Sunday as just a precautionary measure.
Hester will of course have to pass the concussion tests this week to be medically cleared to play on Sunday, so he should be considered very "questionable" to play at this point.
Spencer's MRI revealed some torn cartilage in his knee, and it sounds like he could miss a game or two.
Still, with Louis out for the season, and Spencer's status in question, the Bears are very thin on the offensive line. Edwin Williams stepped in for Spencer at left guard against the Vikings, but he came into the season as the third-string left guard (although he played decently for the Bears in 2011). Recently benched right tackle Gabe Carimi played his first snaps ever (I'm talking before he was even in the NFL) at right guard in replacement of Louis.
So, the Bears hosted several free-offensive lineman for a tryout at Halas Hall, and apparently liked what they saw in 33-year-old guard/center Andre Gurode, as they signed him to a contract on Tuesday.
Gurode appeared in five Pro Bowls as a member of the Dallas Cowboys, and has made 133 career starts. Five of those starts came last season as a member of the Ravens. Now, with his age and given that he was on the street all season, he's surely far away from his "Pro Bowl" status, but he still adds depth which the Bears desperately need right now. If Spencer is out for Sunday and perhaps more games, the only other backup at guard on the current roster is James Brown, an undrafted rookie free agent. And I doubt the Bears feel very comfortable about throwing Brown into game action just yet.
The Bears also released defensive tackle Amobi Okoye. Okoye had one sack on the season and was solid for the Bears over the previous two seasons (although he spent camp with the Buccaneers), but the Bears could afford to let him go given their tremendous depth at defensive tackle (Henry Melton, Stephen Paea, Nate Collins, Matt Toeaina), and because they've been rotating defensive ends into the interior defensive line frequently on passing downs anyway. Additionally, Collins was more impressive than Okoye of late, and Toeaina is a run-stopping specialist that the Bears like to keep around for certain matchups. Okoye will be a fine addition to another team, and I wouldn't be surprised at all if the Bears were to show interest in him again in the future.
Now, you may notice that I didn't say the Bears released Okoye to "make room" for Gurode, and that's because the Bears' roster was at just 52 following the placement of Louis on injured reserve. And with that in mind... the Eagles made a headlining move today with the release of two-time Pro Bowl defensive end Jason Babin, who had a whopping 18 sacks in 2011. He's still played at a solid level in 2012, with 5.5 sacks in 11 games, but given his contract and the Eagles wanting to give young players some playing time during this embarrassing season of theirs, they chose to let the 32-year-old Babin go.
Naturally, many are wondering if the Bears will be interested in Babin (who would have to get by a lot of teams on waivers to even get to the Bears), but I personally doubt it given the fact they already have Julius Peppers, Corey Wootton, Israel Idonije, and Shea McClellin at defensive end. So, who would Babin take playing time from? Certainly not Peppers. Wootton is having a breakout season and was just promoted to starting opposite Peppers. Idonije is having a nice season and still getting a ton of snaps. McClellin is a first round pick and Phil Emery will want to give McClellin every chance to show the pick was a good one.
They always say you can never have enough quality depth on the defensive line, but in this situation, I just don't really see the Bears taking away playing time from their defensive ends to make room for Babin. But, who knows? It would give Rod Marinelli and Lovie Smith just more to do with this already highly-performing defense, so they certainly wouldn't complain. And again, the Bears have used their defensive ends at defensive tackle frequently on passing downs, so they may find a way to make this work without making anybody unhappy.
The Bears also made some moves with the practice squad on Tuesday, by signing guard Derek Dennis and wide receiver Dale Moss, while releasing guard Chris Riley and wide receiver Raymond Radway. Moss, an undrafted rookie, sounds like an intriguing, high-upside type, so he's a nice guy to stash on the practice squad. Here's some information on Moss from Pro Football Talk's Evan Silva in August when the Packers signed him:
Moss, the South Dakota State receiver, will be a player to follow in Packers camp. A four-year basketball player for the Jackrabbits, Moss used his extra year of eligibility to play football. He wound up leading South Dakota State in catches, yards, and touchdowns in 2011.
Moss stands 6-foot-3, 213 and ran a 4.52 at the South Dakota Pro Day. More impressive were Moss’ explosive, 10-foot-10 broad jump, 41 1/2-inch vertical, and 4.13 short shuttle. He is an exceptional athlete.
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