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Bears relying on rookie linebackers against Packers

The SportsXchange

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- A week of rest might have helped the Chicago Bears heal some of their wounds, but it couldn't change the fact they will most likely start two rookie linebackers against the Green Bay Packers and quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Jonathan Bostic will make his second start in the middle in place of D.J. Williams, out for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, and Khaseem Greene will make his first NFL start as a replacement for Lance Briggs, out 4-6 weeks with a fractured shoulder.

Even with their veterans, the Bears defense gave up more points per game (29.4) than all but three teams and is last in the league in sacks (9). Now, after a series of injuries, it's difficult to see how they'll be able to pull it together to beat Rodgers, who hasn't lost to the Bears since their first meeting of the 2010 season.

Bears coach Marc Trestman can only stress playing the scheme as it's meant to be played rather than freelancing as a way to make up for lost defenders.

"So I think the No. 1 way we can improve is by guys just paying attention to their job and not trying to make up for a younger guy or trying to do too much," he said. "If we can do that and we've got to play together, we're not three different units and three separate silos of a building. We really have to play together more than ever now. And I think that's something that we're capable of doing."

Greene and Bostic are big-play types with plenty of speed, but being raw leads to mistakes, such as being in the wrong gap on running plays. Greene has been on the field for only one defensive snap this season. During preseason, Greene thought he showed he could learn quickly after making mistakes.

"The first game (in) Carolina I missed a couple of (assignments) setting the edges, and throughout the rest of the preseason that was something that didn't bother me at all," he said. "I was conscious of setting the edge when I had to set the edge and that's what I ended up doing."

Still to be determined is who will be the on-field leader calling defensive signals. Briggs did it, and Williams had been next up to do it. Without either, veteran strong side linebacker James Anderson could get the call -- or the Bears could let Bostic do it.

"It could be either guy," Trestman said. "I think they are both capable of doing that. As we get closer, we get into the start of this thing ... we've talked about both of them. They're certainly both capable of doing it and we'll see where that goes."

Regardless, the defense has shown an inability to stop both the run and pass at different times. The Bears have given up 123 yards rushing or more four times and 275 yards passing or more four times.

The key has been a pass rush that struggles despite the presence of veteran defensive end Julius Peppers.

"I think we have to play defense a little smarter, a little bit differently just because we have to realize we don't have the same pass rush," safety Chris Conte said.
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