The Chicago Bears defense has been struggling in recent weeks as injuries have depleted what had been one of the best units in the league last season. The St Louis Rams ran for 258 yards last week, including 109 to undrafted rookie Benny Cunningham. Now the reigning MVP Adrian Peterson has rolled out the welcome mat and can’t wait to host the battered Bears defense in their final trip to the Metrodome.
I don’t know if I’d say the cavalry is coming, but reinforcements are expected to be added to the Bears’ lineup. Stephen Paea, who’s been nagged by a foot injury, and Jeremiah Ratliff, recently acquired after being cast off by the Cowboys, are both expected to help bolster the Bears defensive line.
The Bears have been getting pushed around a defense quite a bit the last few weeks, so the return of Paea and the addition of former Pro Bowl performer Ratliff can certainly bolster the D-line, which has had guys playing out of position all season long. With Paea and Ratliff at defensive tackle, it could mean less time for Corey Wootton inside and a move back to DE. That in turn, means less time on DE for Shea McClellin on running downs. He’s best equipped as a pass rushing specialist and was an especially poor performer last week against the Rams, where he took himself out of plays unblocked.
Let’s temper our expectations a bit, especially with Ratliff, who hasn’t played all season coming off a pretty serious leg injury. That said, anything he can add will help a Bears defense that has been playing shorthanded at DT most of the season.
The Bears will need all the help they can get to slow down Peterson.