Official Bears-Cowboys Injury Report After Thursday- 13 players listed on the Cowboys' injury report, and 5 listed for the Bears. Michael Bush is not listed, so that's certainly good news.(Chicago Tribune)

Forte Limited In Practice, But Doing 'Better'- Lovie Smith: "Matt Forte continues to get better. Being able to do a little bit more each day. Can't tell you a lot more than that as far as Matt is concerned except for he's getting better. And that's been the case all along with him." (Chicago Tribune)

Game Preview: Bears vs. Cowboys - Video: Tom Thayer and Larry Mayer spend 5 minutes previewing the Bears-Cowboys game. (ChicagoBears.Com)

Durkin's Playbook: Paea Impacting More Than What Stat Sheet Shows- Dan Durkin with a terrific breakdown of how well Bears defensive tackle Stephen Paea is playing, and uses All-22 film images to prove it. (CBS Chicago)

Breaking Down: Major Wright's Game-Winning Interception- Da Bears Blog's Jeff Hughes after watching Major Wright's interception on All-22 film: "I literally couldn't stop watching it because it was a brilliant, complete defensive effort." (Da Bears Blog)

The Chicago Bears Defense Can Dominate In 2012- Lester A. Wiltfong Jr. writes how this Bears defense can continue to be dominant, and while the Bears are widely considered an "aging defense", most of the terrific production thus far is coming from players under 30. (Windy City Gridiron)

Know Your Opponent: Dallas Cowboys- An in-depth breakdown of the Cowboys from Dan Durkin. (CBS Chicago)

Another Monumental Challenge For Webb- J'Marcus Webb on the Cowboys' DeMarcus Ware: "He's an excellent, long player. He plays to the whistle. It's a different challenge than (the Packers' Clay Matthews) because the size difference and the talent level. (Ware) is a little better, definitely. I have to bring my A-game.'"

I agree that Ware is a more difficult challenge than Matthews (and really any other pass-rusher in the NFL), which is why I've greatly feared this matchup after Matthews had 3.5 sacks in week 2. I sure hope Webb brings his "A-game", though (whatever that may be). Realistically, I'd just settle for under 3 sacks from Ware/whoever Webb matches up against, no forced fumbles, and Jay Cutler coming out alive.

Yes, I'm not expecting this matchup to go well, and why should I? Show me something, J'Marcus. If not, you may find yourself on the bench by the time week 5 comes along (or even before halftime of this game if Ware does what I fear). (Chicago Tribune)

Bears' Offense Will Be Tested Against Talented Cowboys Secondary- Quarterback Jay Cutler and the Bears' wide receivers have struggled the previous two weeks, and as Blake Van Poucke explains, things won't get any easier with a very talented set of Cowboys cornerbacks in Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne. The Cowboys are allowing just 137 passing yards per game, good for 2nd-best in the NFL. (Chicago Bears Huddle)

Cowboys Having O-Line Problems Of Their Own- Like the Bears' offensive line, the Cowboys line is struggling mightily in the early going. As Jeff Dickerson points out, "Dallas has been penalized 31 times for 238 yards compared to just 21 flags thrown against the Bears." (ESPN Chicago)

Bears, Cutler Having Major Problems Gaining Yards On 1st Down- The Bears' offense struggled the last two games, and a big reason for that has been their struggles on 1st down. As Sean Jensen explains, the Bears have a league-worst 3.32-yard average on 1st down plays.

Mike Tice: “We’re bad on first down. We’re putting ourselves in second-and-long a lot. So our goal this week is to do a lot better job, be more efficient on first down.” (Chicago Sun-Times)

Bears Focus On Containing Mobile Romo- Tony Romo is very good at escaping pressure out of the pocket (something he'll have to do a lot this year with a shoddy Cowboys o-line), and making plays out of nothing. The Bears will have their hands full in preventing those things from happening. (ESPN Chicago)

Four Downs: O's Consistency A Concern?- 4 ESPN Chicago Bears writers tackle 4 Bears-Cowboys topics with fact or fiction answers. The topics: Bears' offense will struggle vs. Cowboys; Tony Romo is better than Jay Cutler; Cutler needs to stop targeting Marshall so much and spread the ball around; Julius Peppers is a more impactful player than DeMarcus Ware. (ESPN Chicago)

Bears-Cowboys Capsule- Plenty of stats and tidbits about the matchup. (Bears Gab)

Bears' Gould Nearing Long-Distance Record- With 9 straight field goals made in attempts over 50 yards, Robbie Gould has a chance to break the record of 11 straight, held by former Oilers and Rams kicker Tony Zendejas. (Chicago Tribune)

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As I was in the middle of writing a post about how a struggling Bears offense could be without both Matt Forte and Michael Bush on Monday night at Dallas, some very encouraging news broke (and thus made me delete everything I had written): Forte and Bush each practiced on Wednesday.

Forte left the week two game vs. the Packers with what was initially reported to be a high ankle sprain, an injury that usually sidelines a player for 4-6 weeks. But, Bears head coach Lovie Smith last week denied the reports that Forte suffered a high ankle sprain, and today, the star running back told the media that his ankle sprain didn't swell much:

"I didn't really swell up in the ankle," Forte said, "so that's the big part. When you have an ankle injury when the swelling is big, takes a long time to get it out. But I didn't really swell up, so I felt like I'd be back pretty soon."
Source: ESPN Chicago

When asked if he'd be good to go against the Cowboys, Forte told the media, "Yeah."

Even more encouraging are these comments from Brad Biggs about how Forte looked in practice:

Forte showed no lingering effects from the injury as he sprinted and made cuts during individual drills. He caught passes and turned up the field without much issue during the viewing period open to the media.

Bush started in place of Forte against the Rams, and had 18 carries for 51 yards and a touchdown, as well as two receptions for 18 yards. However, he didn't play for most of the fourth quarter, and it was particularly alarming when Kahlil Bell got a 3rd and 1 carry (when Bush is the short yardage guy even when Forte is healthy). While Lovie Smith has denied reports that Bush was on the bench due to injury, Vaughn McClure tweeted the following on Wednesday morning:

Biggs adds that Bush, "would not confirm the injury." Whatever the case, the shoulder surely isn't too big of a concern if he's practicing five days before gameday.

The Bears' offense over the last two weeks has looked like they're in the first week of training camp. Cutler has been off target, the offensive line's pass protection has been bad (awful against the Packers, and still subpar against the Rams), the wide receivers have dropped a lot of passes, and the play-calling/game-planning from Mike Tice has been questionable.

Thankfully, the defense (particularly the defensive line and Tim Jennings at cornerback) has played as well as any defense in the NFL, with constant pressure on the quarterback, and takeaways from the secondary.

However, the offense is going to need to greatly improve their performance for the Bears to win games against good teams on the road (which they couldn't do at Green Bay), and such a situation presents itself on Monday night in Dallas. And to be the team the Bears want to be on offense, they're going to need Matt Forte and Michael Bush to be healthy. That's especially the case for Forte, as his versatility on the offense allows the Bears to do so much more than they can without him.

Oh, and with pass-rushing menace DeMarcus Ware going up against the Bears' offensive line, the Bears will need to be able to run the ball in this game (to at least keep Ware and company on their toes). Because if the Bears have to rely heavily on the passing game, Ware will likely do what Clay Matthews did in week two to the offensive line and Jay Cutler. It won't be pretty.

Other injury news: Fullback Evan Rodriguez is almost surely out vs. Dallas with a sprained MCL in his left knee, an injury he suffered in the opening kickoff vs. St. Louis. He hopes to be back for the week five game at Jacksonville, but the Bears may play it safe with the rookie and keep him out of that game as well with a bye week in week six. That would allow him plenty of rest before the Bears host the Lions on MNF in week seven.

Julius Peppers sat out practice as he deals with plantar fasciitis, a foot injury that's bothered him for a while. It's likely he'll continue to take a day or two off each practice week to rest the foot, but it shouldn't force him to miss any games either. I don't see such an injury ever keeping that beast off the field.

Bears work out running backs on Tuesday: The Bears worked out veteran running backs Ryan Grant and Jacob Hester on Tuesday at Halas Hall. Grant (a productive back over the previous five seasons with the Packers) reportedly impressed in the workout, but chose to sign with the Redskins instead.

So, were the Bears working out Grant and Hester because they expected to be without Forte and/or Bush on Monday night (and keep in mind that this was before each player practiced Wednesday), or was it perhaps to replace Kahlil Bell or Armando Allen on the roster?

Here's what Brad Biggs had to say about it on Twitter/Sulia:

I am told the Bears were looking to improve their overall strength at the position for the long haul this season and it didn’t have as much to do with the health of Matt Forte (ankle) and Michael Bush (shoulder) as it looked like. Grant was going for a physical on Tuesday and the Bears typically don’t put players through the medical process if they are not going to sign them. But Washington called and Grant decided it was a better offer, which makes sense when you consider the lack of experienced players in the backfield in Washington. He probably sees a much easier path to playing time with the Redskins.
Had the Bears added Grant, it likely would have been bad news for Armando Allen or Kahlil Bell.
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Michael Bush will start at running back for the Bears on Sunday vs. the Rams.

The good news for Bears star running back Matt Forte is that he reportedly did not suffer the dreaded high ankle sprain against the Packers last Thursday, an injury that usually sidelines a player for four-six weeks. The bad news is that the ankle sprain he suffered will still keep him out for at least this Sunday's game against the Rams at Soldier Field:

Forte's timetable is unknown, but the sprain is not believed to be very serious, and my guess is that the main concern for the Bears is making sure Forte is healthy for the week four MNF showdown against the Cowboys in Dallas.

For now, Michael Bush will start at running back, and that's not something I'm too worried about, as he's a starting-caliber running back in this league. The 6'1", 245-pound bulldozing back started 16 games for the Raiders over the previous three years, and had 256 carries for 977 yards in 2011. He can carry the load. He's also a better receiver than you'd think with his size- 37 receptions for 418 yards (11.3 AVG) in 2011.

Armando Allen and Kahlil Bell (brought back this week) are both expected to be active, and will each likely see some playing time. My guess is that Bell will serve as the #2 back, and Allen will be featured in some 3rd and long situations (but hopefully the Bears don't find themselves in those situations either).

The Rams may not have their star running back for Sunday's game either. Steven Jackson left the Rams' victory over the Redskins last Sunday with a groin injury, and he hasn't practiced all week. He's officially listed as "questionable", and is considered a game-time decision. If he can't go, rookie Daryl Richardson would be the starter, and he looked impressive against the Redskins, running for 83 yards on 15 carries.

As for other injuries to monitor, Bears defensive end/monster Julius Peppers is listed as "probable" with a foot injury, but he had full participation on Friday, and I'd be beyond stunned if he didn't play.

The Rams have ruled out defensive tackle Matt Conrath, safety Matt Daniels, and left tackle Roger Saffold. Defensive tackle Michael Brockers, the Rams' first round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, is listed as "doubtful" with an ankle injury. Left tackle Wayne Hunter and fullback Brit Miller are "questionable", but St. Louis Dispatch Rams beat writer Jim Thomas says that both are expected to play.

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Believe me, I really, really wanted to write a lot following the Bears' disastrous loss to the Packers last Thursday night at Lambeau Field, but issues with my laptop left me unable to post on here until today. I still shared plenty of thoughts on my Twitter, though.

Anyway, I'm back at it now, and let's get it all going with some Bears-related links as they prepare for Sunday's week three game against the St. Louis Rams at Soldier Field.

Jay Cutler is our jerk (Windy City Gridiron)

Why the Bears will be just fine (Soldier Field Blog)

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Nice to finally see what an explosive offense (from the Bears, anyway) looks like, right?

Jay Cutler (21/35, 333 YDS, 2 TD, 1 INT, 98.9 QB Rating).

Matt Forte (16 CAR, 80 YDS, 1 TD; 3 REC, 40 YDS).

Michael Bush (12 CAR, 42 YDS, 2 TD).

Brandon Marshall (9 REC, 119 YDS, 1 TD).

Alshon Jeffery (3 REC, 80 YDS).

Earl Bennett (3 REC, 50 YDS).

Devin Hester (2 REC, 27 YDS).

All of them made big plays in the Bears' 41-21 season-opening victory over the Colts on Sunday at Soldier Field. And my favorite play on the offensive end came in the fourth quarter, when Jay Cutler unleashed a 42-yard play-action bomb to rookie wide receiver Alshon Jeffery.

Just an incredible throw by Cutler, and Jeffery gives us an example of how he's going to be a fun toy for a long, long time:

And check it out the play in GIF form, via SB Nation:

UPDATE: Matt Bowen, a former NFL safety that now serves as an outstanding analyst for the National Football Post, Chicago Tribune, and CSN Chicago, made an X's & O's video for CSN Chicago that breaks down the Cutler-to-Jeffery- TD pass. This is outstanding stuff, and definitely worth a few minutes of your time:

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I wrote late last night about Sean Jensen's report that the Bears were expected to promote running back Armando Allen from the practice squad to the 53-man roster, before Sunday's game against the Colts. And today, the Bears indeed put Allen on the 53-man roster.

The Bears also terminated the contract of running back Lorenzo Booker, and waived linebacker Patrick Trahan.

Booker suffered a concussion in the preseason finale against the Browns, and was listed as "questionable" for Sunday against the Colts. However, even with his "questionable" status, most around the team considered the 28-year-old very unlikely to suit up for the game, as he sat out practice all week.

Trahan, who made one tackle over five games with the Bears in 2011, was unlikely to stick much longer on the roster, unless the Bears really, really liked what he brings to the table on special teams. The Bears still have six linebackers on the roster, in Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs, Nick Roach, Geno Hayes, Blake Costanzo, and J.T. Thomas.

The Bears' roster now stands at 52 players, and Brad Biggs suggests that the Bears could use the last roster spot for defensive tackle Nate Collins, who is eligible to come off the suspension list on Monday.

UPDATE: Zach Zaidman tweets that Booker was placed on injured reserve. Hopefully the head trauma Booker suffered isn't too severe.

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Armando Allen could be the Bears' #3 running back on Sunday vs. the Colts.

Bears beat writer Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that the Bears will likely promote running back Armando Allen from the practice squad to the 53-man roster, before Sunday's game against the Colts at Soldier Field:

Running back Armando Allen, who lost a battle with Lorenzo Booker last week, is expected to be promoted from the practice squad to the 53-man roster.
As Jensen alluded to, this comes a week after the Bears cut Allen in favor of veteran running back Lorenzo Booker, but Booker is unlikely to be active on Sunday after suffering a concussion in the Bears' final preseason game against the Browns.

Allen and Booker both impressed in the preseason, and I (along with most people that follow the team closely) actually thought Allen would beat Booker out for a roster spot. Booker's ability on special teams is believed to be what ended up winning him the job.

If Allen is added to the roster, a corresponding roster move will need to be made by the Bears. Here's Jensen's take on which player could be let go:

The Bears will need to make a corresponding roster move, and linebacker Patrick Trahan could be the odd man out. But, with punter Adam Podlesh expected to play Sunday -- he's currently listed as probable -- the Bears won't carry rookie punter Ryan Quigley much longer. Quigley, though, could stick around through the Colts game, as insurance for Podlesh.
I'd have to agree with those guesses, and we'll find out for sure in the next two days (if Allen is indeed promoted to the roster).

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Bears starting free safety Chris Conte is "Probable" to face the Colts.

The Chicago Bears and Indianapolis Colts released their official injury reports for the season opener on Sunday at Soldier Field.

Here they are:


Questionable: RB Lorenzo Booker (Head)

Probable: WR Earl Bennett (Hand), S Chris Conte (Shoulder), P Adam Podlesh (Hip), LB Brian Urlacher (Knee)


OUT: ILB Pat Angerer (Foot), G Joe Reitz (Knee)

Questionable: RB Delonte Carter (Chest), WR Austin Collie (Head), T.Y. Hilton (Shoulder)

Probable: RB Mewelde Moore (Chest), CB Jerraud Powers (Knee), Cory Redding (Knee)

Extremely good news on the injury front for the Bears, with Brian Urlacher, Chris Conte, and Adam Podlesh all listed as "probable".

Urlacher practiced fully on Friday after the Bears held him out for precautionary reasons on Thursday (they're limiting his reps, and that may continue all season). The star middle linebacker said earlier in the week that it's a "done deal" that he'll be out there on Sunday, and it sure seems like that will be the case. Now, how he's moving around on the left knee in the game is anybody's guess, and in the same interview that he made the "done deal" comment, he also said that the knee, “just isn’t the same anymore. It’s never going to be the same.” A sad statement for a Bears fan to hear, but something we should've already known, given the damage done to the knee, the procedures performed on the knee, and then of course factoring in that #54 is 34 years old.

After dislocating his right shoulder in the preseason game vs. the Redskins, Conte's status has been very much in question, and I expected to see him listed as "questionable" on this injury report. But, he was able to go the entire practice on Friday, after practicing in limited fashion earlier in the week. It sounds like he may wear a harness to protect the shoulder, and seems like a good bet to start at free safety on Sunday.

Like Conte, Podlesh left the preseason game vs. the Redskins with an injury that put his week one status in doubt. Podlesh suffered a left hip flexor injury in the game, and (once again) like Conte, was limited in practice all week before having full participation on Friday.

Bears head coach Lovie Smith was asked if he think Podlesh will be good to go on Sunday:

“Do I think that (Podlesh will play)?” Bears coach Lovie Smith said. “I try not to guess too much on that. I know he got good work in today and we have a couple days before game time. He practiced today.”

If Podlesh is unable to go, rookie punter Ryan Quigley (who impressed in training camp and the preseason games) would play.

Third-string running back Lorenzo Booker is listed as "questionable" due to a concussion suffered in the final preseason game, but he's unlikely to be active on Sunday.

As for the Colts, wide receiver Austin Collie looks to be a game-time decision after suffering three (!) concussions over the last two years. Colts beat writer Mike Chappell of the Indianapolis Star doesn't expect to see Collie suit up:

Neurosurgeon Hank Feuer said he was confident Collie did not suffer another concussion against the Patriots, but in retrospect Collie wondered if perhaps he rushed himself back onto the field.

That’s why I don’t expect to see Collie Sunday, unless it’s in blue jeans and a polo shirt on the Colts sideline.
Rookie wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (who saw a lot of playing time in the preseason with the first-team) is also "questionable", so that's two wide receivers that the Colts could be without in quarterback Andrew Luck's NFL debut.

Left guard Joe Reitz is out for the Colts, and Seth Olsen will replace him.

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Trying to waste time before Sunday (finally) comes along? Give these Bears-related links a read to get prepped for the opener vs. the Colts:
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