The Chicago Bears are trying to figure out why they have injuries at every position they decide to release players. Last year the Bears released safety Chris Harris, who has flourished in Carolina, and promptly dealt with injuries at the safety position all season. This year the Bears released nickel back Ricky Manning Jr. and just discovered they lost starting nickel back Brandon McGowan for the season with an ankle injury.
Luckily the Bears still have some depth at the position. In training camp the starting nickel back was Danieal Manning but by the end of camp he had been beaten out by McGowan for the position. Manning will have an opportunity to step up and prove that the job should have rightfully belonged to him.
Manning already knows the position well and should not have too difficult of a learning curve to get back into action. However, the Bears are debating the options of using Manning or leaving linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer on the field to concentrate on shutting down the run. The problem is leaving too many linebackers could leave the secondary exposed to big passing plays.
The other element comes from opponent Tampa Bay starting former Bears quarterback Brian Griese on Sunday. Whether the Bears go with a nickel back or an extra linebacker could dictate how difficult they want to make life for Griese on Sunday. Griese had some mild success in Chicago but lacked consistency. The Bears defense may contest his ability to make throws on the run. Griese’s biggest drawback is his lack of mobility and the ability of Manning or Hillenmeyer to reach the quarterback may make the difference of which gets more playing time.
The injury to Devin Hester still remains a mystery. He simply ran out of bounds and held his side with extreme discomfort and has been held out of practice. Hester made an appearance at practice today but did not participate. He told reporters he plans to play on Sunday but his availability remains unknown.
The other rumor on the block is the Bears and Lovie Smith may be interested in pursuing free agent safety John Lynch. Smith has experience with Lynch when they both were in Tampa Bay and he might have interest in bringing him in. In that case, Lynch would give another talented and able body to help shore up the secondary in McGowan’s absense. The Bears took a gamble last year on Adam Archuletta and it blew up in their face. Regardless, the Bears may take another gamble with another aging safety and see if he has any gas left in the tank.