Bears still plugging holes as bye week fades

GENE CHAMBERLAIN (Associated Press)
The Associated Press

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) -- A weekend away for their bye left the Chicago Bears further behind in the NFC North, with a daunting task directly ahead for their struggling defense only adding to the problem they have at quarterback.

Victories by the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions left the Bears a game back in the loss column at 4-3, with more defensive change coming and a game at Green Bay ahead on Monday night in which they will start Josh McCown at quarterback for injured Jay Cutler.

The defensive problems left coach Marc Trestman calling Monday for an all-out team effort from special teams, offense and defense to make up for injuries at linebacker and the defensive line.

''We're not three different units and three separate silos of a building,'' he said after Monday's brief practice. ''We really have to play together more than ever now. And I think that's something that we're capable of doing.

''But the No. 1 thing is just to know our assignments and do our job. That's the biggest thing you get coming out of the bye is the more tape you watch, and it's the way it is with most every team. If you'll do your job and continue to do it within the framework of the play called, you've got a chance to have success on that play.''

A defense now 27th in the league at 391 yards per game allowed will likely start a rookie linebacker for the second straight game. Khaseem Greene will go at weak side linebacker for injured Lance Briggs, who suffered a fractured shoulder against Washington on Oct. 20. Greene is taking the snaps in practice at the spot and gets first crack at it, according to Trestman.

''I've only played one snap of defense this year and just having an opportunity to maybe get out there and be a starter and play way more snaps is enough in itself to be fired up,'' said Greene, a fourth-round pick from Rutgers who originally played safety in college before converting to linebacker. ''But again, I've just got to stay calm, trust the defense and trust the scheme, and then also build some confidence in my teammates so they know that I can actually go out there and compete if I'm the guy.''

Against Washington, rookie Jon Bostic started at middle linebacker following a season-ending knee injury suffered by D.J. Williams. So the inexperience factor at linebacker will be big, but Bostic thinks coaches will like what they see from Greene.

''He's a guy that's been doing everything; being behind Lance he learned a lot of things,'' Bostic said. ''But there are still a lot of things you have to learn, as well as me.''

Several issues regarding the linebacker position are yet to be resolved, including who calls the signals on the field. It's likely Bostic or veteran strong side linebacker James Anderson will do it.

Greene sees his role as simply avoiding mistakes.

''I really listen to what the coaches and the older guys say,'' Greene said. ''They say if you're going to make a mistake, then make it full speed. That's what we say around here. As long as I'm going full speed, the tape can get corrected. The coaches can correct me. The older guys can correct me. I can correct myself if I make a mistake.

''As long as I make it fast, though, I still give myself a fighting chance.''

NOTES: Trestman said no change will be made at the starting safeties even though both free safety Chris Conte and strong safety Major Wright struggled against Washington. ... CB Charles Tillman did not practice Monday, although Trestman is hopeful he'll be available to face Green Bay. Tillman missed much of the Redskins game due to a knee injury which had kept him out of the previous game against the Giants. ... The Bears have another light workout Tuesday and a day off Wednesday before beginning preparations for Monday night's game in Green Bay.


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