Chicago Bears: 2013 NFL injury wire

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears coach Marc Trestman remains hopeful for the return of Jay Cutler on Sunday against the Detroit Lions, but added the team has “got to be reserved about it as well,” because the quarterback’s clearance hinges on recommendations from team doctors.

The Bears participated only in walkthroughs on Wednesday, but the plan on Thursday is for the team to work out Cutler, to see where he is physically before making a determination.

Cutler tore a groin muscle during the team’s Oct. 20 loss at Washington.

“I don’t know where he’s at (physically) really,” Trestman said. “He’s been running around, working out with the trainers. He spent a lot of time on the off day with (Bears assistant head athletic trainer and director of rehabilitation) Bobby (Slater), working with bands, redirecting and things like that. We’ll see where things are in the morning when he’ll be evaluated. At the end of the day the doctors will determine (whether to clear Cutler). Part of that determination will be by working him out and making sure he can move suddenly and redirect himself, and stride and run full out. Those will be the determinations, and then the doctors will have a say. They’ll make the decision on whether they allow him free access to practice.”

If that access is granted, Trestman said two days of practice -- Thursday and Friday -- would be sufficient prep time for Cutler to play against the Lions. The coach also said that strong play recently by backup quarterback Josh McCown in Cutler’s absence won’t factor into the decision.

McCown has generated a passer rating of 100.2 in two games, while throwing for 476 yards, three touchdowns and no turnovers.

“There is no gray area in this decision. The doctors are either going to say he can play, and that means he can play without any sense that there’s going to be (issues concerning Cutler’s safety),” Trestman said. “Nobody can ever predict 100 percent and we wouldn’t do that either, but certainly that the doctors feel he would be ready to play, and play at full speed. If he is then he’ll go. That’s really it. For this time, I would want him to be cleared to practice and hopeful that by being cleared to practice, that he will play. Because we want to give him all the reps, we’d be hopeful that the clearance would be indicative that he’d be able to play.”

Receiver Brandon Marshall, meanwhile, joked “there might be a little QB controversy” because of McCown’s strong play, but maintains his belief that Cutler will start against the Lions. During the team’s bye week, Marshall filled in for the quarterback on ESPN 1000’s “The Jay Cutler Show” on Oct. 22 and said the “worst-case scenario” for Cutler’s return would be Sunday's matchup versus Detroit.

“He’s back, he’s back, the prediction was right. I look like a genius right now,” Marshall said. “If anything comes up throughout the week we’ll probably have to adjust, but on a serious note, Jay’s on the right track. I think he’s going to try it this week. If he can go, he’ll go, if he can’t, I think he’s going to make a very hard decision to rest it a little bit more. But he’s definitely put himself in position to make it out there for Sunday.”

Cutler has done that by an aggressive rehabilitation schedule that includes PRP shots, use of an ARP machine and a restricted diet. Cutler wants to play against the Lions, but admitted the decision isn’t up to him.

“I’m not gonna just walk in the building and be like, ‘Hey, I’m ready to go,’” Cutler said. “Doctors have got to O.K. it. I’ve got to prove to them that I can protect myself out there, (that I) can do everything that we need to do at the quarterback position. We’ve still got some hurdles to go through.”

Cutler (groin) limited on Wed.

November, 6, 2013
LAKE FOREST, Ill. – Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (groin) would have been limited on Wednesday if the club had conducted a full-practice, instead of an abbreviated workout due to the short week, according the league’s official injury report.

Cutler is expected to test out his injured groin muscle on the practice field on Thursday to give the Bears an idea of where he is at physically in regards to potentially starting at quarterback Sunday versus the Detroit Lions.

In other injury news, linebacker Lance Briggs (shoulder), defensive tackle Jay Ratliff (groin) and long snapper Patrick Mannelly (calf) would not have participated on Wednesday.

Mannelly is considered week-to-week and is not expected to be active this weekend, while Ratliff told ESPN 1000’s “Waddle and Silvy Show” on Monday that he is still “a couple of weeks” away from returning from his injury.

Linebacker Blake Costanzo (back), tight end Dante Rosario (ankle) and cornerback Charles Tillman (knee) were also listed as being limited.

Mannelly hurt, Bears sign LS Cain

November, 6, 2013
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- A calf injury to 16-year NFL veteran Patrick Mannelly forced the Chicago Bears to agree to terms with free agent long snapper Jeremy Cain on Wednesday, the club announced.

Mannelly, the Bears all-time leader in games player with 239, left Lambeau Field Monday night in a walking boot and is considered "week-to-week" and could be out "a couple weeks", according to Bears head coach Marc Trestman.

"It doesn't look good for this week," Trestman said.

Cain, 33, originally entered the NFL with the Bears in 2004, but spent the last four seasons as the long snapper for the Jacksonville Jaguars (2009-2012) before losing his job this preseason. Cain worked with current Bears special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis and punter Adam Podlesh in Jacksonville.

Bears general manager Phil Emery described Mannelly, a team captain and locker room leader, as “one of the eight wonders of the world” at a recent press conference. Mannelly has missed only nine games over his decorated career in Chicago.

The Bears also made their signing of veteran defensive tackle Jay Ratliff official on Wednesday.

Paea suffers minor turf toe injury

September, 29, 2013
DETROIT -- Chicago Bears defensive tackle Stephen Paea wore a walking boot on his left foot after Sunday’s loss 40-32 loss to the Detroit Lions, but isn’t expected to miss time with what he called a minor turf toe injury.

Moving over from his customary spot at nose tackle to the 3-technique tackle spot in place of Henry Melton, who is out for the season with a torn ACL, Paea contributed two tackles, including a stop for lost yardage. A three-year veteran, Paea came into the game with six tackles, half a sack and two tackles for lost yardage.

Although the injury isn’t considered serious, it’s likely Paea will appear on the injury report headed into next week’s game against the New Orleans Saints at Soldier Field. Paea said the medical staff encouraged him to wear the walking boot to take pressure off the toe during travel back to the team’s facilities from Detroit.

But if Paea winds up missing time, the Bears could be in a difficult situation given there’s not much depth behind him and Nate Collins, who assumed a starting role due to Melton’s injury. As it stands, Paea, Collins and Zach Minter, who was inactive on Sunday, are the club’s only bona fide defensive tackles.

The Bears can move starting defensive end Corey Wootton inside to tackle. Defensive end Julius Peppers has also lined up at tackle on occasion.

The club’s franchise player, Melton contributed five tackles and a fumble recovery in three games before suffering the torn ACL during the team’s Sept. 22 win over Pittsburgh. Paea recognized the difficulty of trying to fill the gaps up front without Melton, a 2012 Pro Bowler.

“He’s done some great stuff,” Paea said of Melton. “Obviously, the next guy up has got to step up, including myself. I’ve played some 3 [technique] before. It’s just a matter of time, repetitions and practice.”

Tillman to play against Lions

September, 29, 2013
DETROIT -- The Chicago Bears released their list of inactives for Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field, and as expected, cornerback Charles Tillman wasn’t on it, which means he’ll try to play despite nagging knee and groin injuries.

Tillman practice missed time in the week leading up to the team’s 40-23 win against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sept. 22, and also sat out of two workout sessions on Wednesday and Thursday heading into the matchup against the Lions.

Other inactives include receivers Marquess Wilson and Joe Anderson, cornerback Sherrick McManis (quadriceps), offensive tackles James Brown and Jonathan Scott, defensive end David Bass and defensive tackle Zach Minter, who was expected to take on a more significant role with the team placing starting defensive tackle Henry Melton recently on the injured reserve.

Provided Tillman can play effectively, the Bears should benefit from the cornerback’s presence. In the past six meetings between these teams, Lions receiver Calvin Johnson has produced only one 100-yard outing against the Bears (Oct. 10, 2011), while scoring just two touchdowns with Tillman as the primary defender covering him.

Johnson averages 4.5 receptions per game against the Bears since 2010 for an average of 71.3 yards. Tillman, meanwhile, has racked up 37 tackles, broken up eight passes and intercepted two in addition to forcing two fumbles in his last six games against the LIons.

With Tillman banged up, how long he’ll be able to play comes into the equation, and more importantly, whether he can be effective enough to slow down Johnson.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears signed defensive tackle Landon Cohen on Friday, and officially placed franchise defensive tackle Henry Melton on injured reserve.

Melton tore the ACL in his left knee with 12:58 left to play in Chicago’s 40-23 victory Sunday over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Looking to add depth, the Bears brought in Cohen and Daniel Muir for tryouts, before opting Friday to sign the former.

“I just talked to [general manager] Phil [Emery] about him,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said. “I don’t know much, but he’s with us. We’ll find out a little bit more. Phil’s been out of town, so I’ll have a chance to chat with him. I did by phone, but [I’ll] have a chance to talk with him a little bit more.”

Cohen has played in 27 career NFL games (with five starts) for Detroit (2008-09), Jacksonville (2010), New England (2010-11) and Dallas (2013). He has posted 32 tackles.

Fourth-year veteran Nate Collins will start Sunday opposite Stephen Paea, who is expected to move into Melton’s customary spot as the three-technique while Collins plays nose tackle. It’s likely that defensive end Corey Wootton will also kick inside to defensive tackle to enter the rotation, which will also include undrafted free-agent Zach Minter.

Minter had been among the team’s inactives over the first three games.

“[Melton] is definitely a great player. No one is going to do what he does out there,” Minter said. “But when the opportunity presents itself, it’s our job to take advantage, but also step up and play like he’s not missing. So it’s up to us to keep the momentum going, keep the pass rush up and get after the football.”

Melton has 13 sacks since 2011, which ranks second among defensive tackles during that span. So replacing him will be a difficult proposition for Chicago’s already struggling pass rush. Through the first three games, Collins has contributed seven tackles in limited action.

Filling in for an injured Melton at Pittsburgh, Collins posted two tackles.

“I feel like I’m aggressive, like I might be a little undersized,” Collins said. “But in some situations, playing in that phone booth at nose tackle, it’s an advantage as long as I keep my pads down and use my leverage to my advantage.”
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman returned to practice Friday after missing the first two days of preparation for Sunday’s matchup against the Detroit Lions due to a sore right knee and a strained groin, and is officially listed as questionable.

Tillman participated during Friday's session in a limited capacity.

“He worked today, looked good,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said. “We’ll see how he feels tomorrow. But I still would have to say he’s questionable. We’re reasonably optimistic that he’ll be playing. He’ll work out the next couple of days and continue to get treatment.”

In addition, cornerback Sherrick McManis missed his third workout due to a quadriceps injury, and is officially listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game.

Trestman called Tillman “day-to-day” earlier in the week, but stressed on Friday there’s no need to rush the cornerback into action if he’s not ready to play.

Tillman, 32, has fought through multiple issues over the first three weeks of the season, playing with the knee injury in the first two contests, before missing time last week against the Steelers to rest the sore groin.

“It’s all up to trainers and to the doctors. If the doctors and the trainers say he’s ready to go, then he’s ready to go. I won’t be making this decision,” Trestman said. “It’ll be made with Charles’ best interests at heart. This game isn’t the most important game if he’s not ready to play for him. I expect that he will. I’m optimistic that he will.”

In other injury news, cornerback Zack Bowman practiced fully on Friday and is officially listed as probable.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman missed practice for the second consecutive day Thursday as he works through a strained groin and a sore right knee.

In addition, cornerback Sherrick McManis was held out for the second straight workout because of a quadriceps injury.

Bears coach Marc Trestman said Tillman is “day-to-day, and I’ll tell you exactly where he is tomorrow. (We’re) optimistic, but we’ll know a lot more in the morning.”

Despite missing two days of practice, Tillman seemed optimistic that he’ll play Sunday at Detroit. Asked on Wednesday whether there was any chance he’d miss, Tillman said, “No, I’ll be there.”

But as a contingency plan in case Tillman can’t play, the Bears worked veteran Zack Bowman in Tillman’s spot during Thursday’s session. Bowman (knee) participated in a limited capacity on Wednesday but was able to work fully on Thursday.

Tillman, 32, has already fought through a few issues over the first three weeks of the season. He played with the knee injury in the first two contests, and missed time during the Sept. 8 season opener because of dehydration. Against the Steelers, Tillman left the game in the second half to rest a sore groin.

“There’s not any concern about anything about Sunday. We’ll go into the game, we’ll see who is playing, and we’ll adjust accordingly,” Trestman said. “Charles is either gonna play because he’s ready to play, or he won’t play because he’s not. We’re not gonna put him out there if the doctors feel he’s not ready to play.”

Bowman ready if needed vs. Lions

September, 25, 2013
LAKE FOREST, Ill. – If Charles Tillman's track record is an indicator, the veteran cornerback will be in the starting line-up Sunday at Detroit.

However, the great unknown is how Tillman’s body will hold up over the course of a game defending Detroit Lions All-Pro wide receiver Calvin Johnson, a test Tillman has passed with flying colors in the past.

Tillman was held out of practice on Wednesday after a groin injury forced him to the sidelines in the second half of the Bears’ 40-23 Week 3 victory in Pittsburgh. The next man up for the Bears at cornerback is veteran Zack Bowman, who filled in for Tillman versus the Steelers and took most of the first-team reps at practice on Wednesday - despite being limited himself with a minor knee injury.

In the event Tillman needs a rest on Sunday, Bowman is the logical choice to defend Johnson because of his size, speed, athleticism and experience. Bowman was given the assignment of covering Johnson in Week 1 of the 2010 season when the Bears knocked of the Lions at Soldier Field. Johnson finished that game with four catches for 45 yards, although he almost caught the game-winning touchdown over Bowman in the back corner of the endzone, but the pass was ultimately ruled incomplete.

“Johnson is one of the biggest receivers in the league and one of the most physical,” Bowman said. “He really knows how to use his hands, get off the line of scrimmage and knows how to get open. I’ve faced him. We’ve all faced him, so we know that to expect.

There’s no trick against him. He’s not going to trick you. What you see is what you get. He’s just going to line up and play ball.”

Johnson has 17 receptions for 268 yards and three touchdowns for the Lions.

A former starter with seven career interceptions, Bowman has been slowly working his way back into a contributing role on defense after re-joining the Bears in October, 2012. Bowman’s main focus for the last year has been special teams, where he made a career-high 11 tackles in only 11 games. But with Tillman sitting out practice the majority of last week, Bowman received valuable first-team reps on defense. The same routine is expected to be followed this week leading up to the trip to Detroit.

“It really helps getting these reps,” Bowman said. “You know, I focus a lot of special team and stuff like that, so when you have an opportunity to get out on the field and get your feet wet it just helps you.”

Tillman (groin) held out of practice

September, 25, 2013
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman was held out of practice Wednesday as he deals with a groin issue that cropped up late in Sunday night's victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

In addition, cornerback Sherrick McManis was also held out of practice with a quadriceps injury.

Bears coach Marc Trestman categorized both players as "day to day" after practice Wednesday.

The 32-year-old Tillman has already dealt with a number of issues during the first three weeks of the season. During the first two weeks he was playing with a knee injury, while also missing time during the Sept. 8 season opener because of dehydration.

Trestman deduced that the groin issue was probably the result of overcompensating for the knee problem.

Tillman did not play late in Sunday's game as a precaution, and the injury is not deemed to be serious and he could play Sunday at Detroit.

"We moved some people around today," Trestman said about his defense. "C.J. [Wilson] got some work today, obviously. And Zach [Minter] will continue to work over there [on the defensive line] as well."

Bears will be careful with Charles Tillman

September, 23, 2013
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- While Chicago Bears coach Marc Trestman tried to downplay Charles Tillman's latest injury, the reality is that the veteran Chicago Bears cornerback is now dealing with two ailments after the first three weeks of the season.

After Tillman fought through a sore knee during the first two weeks, a groin issue surfaced during the Bears’ 40-23 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night.

“Charles got a little tight at the end of the game so we held him out,” Trestman said. “We’re going to be very cautious with him this week. He will probably be out on Wednesday and we’ll go through the same progression. But he just tightened up. He was in early this morning, he worked out and he got treatment. We’re optimistic that he will be ready to go on Sunday.”

Trestman speculated that one injury begot the other.

“His knee held up fine and it was probably a little compensation,” Trestman said. “I’m not a trainer, I’m not a doctor so I want to be very careful with my words. It’s probably another part of his body compensating for the knee, but he held up fine.”

Unless the 32-year-old sits out a game, Tillman will continue to deal with short recovery windows. When asked about how an 11-year veteran will be able to play catch-up with his health between games, Trestman had no definitive answers.

“I really can’t answer that,” said Trestman, whose team won’t have its bye week until Oct. 27. “I don’t know how to answer that question. I know he does everything he can when he’s healthy to stay healthy and I know he will do everything he can to get his body the way it needs to be at 100 percent. But we’re optimistic he’ll be back and ready to go.”
Wearing sunglasses and a ball cap pulled down tightly Sunday night, a dejected Henry Melton hobbled out of the locker room after the Chicago Bears bested the Pittsburgh Steelers 40-23 at Heinz Field.

Approximately 12 hours later, back in Chicagoland, a dire diagnosis of a torn ACL puts Melton out for the season and the Bears into grind mode to somehow add depth at the position.

“It’s tough. We’re gonna have to rally,” defensive end Julius Peppers said. “Other guys gonna have to step their game up a little bit and try to fill that void.”

In the next-man-up world of the NFL, fourth-year veteran Nate Collins, who has been one of the defensive line's most consistent players, receives first crack to play in Melton’s spot opposite Stephen Paea. Both are capable of playing either tackle spot, and given that Collins might be a tick quicker than Paea, it’s likely he’ll play the three-technique position while Paea stays at the nose.

Still, there’s a good chance general manager Phil Emery is spending Monday on the phone with agents trying to set up Tuesday workouts with free agents as the Bears explore the possibility of adding depth. Defensive end Corey Wootton is capable of moving inside to tackle where he can contribute as a rotational player, and the team could ramp up the repetitions of second-year veteran Shea McClellin at defensive end. Wootton has seen spot duty inside at tackle as a situational player when defensive coordinator Mel Tucker tries to deploy all four of his best pass-rushers on the field at the same time.

So it’s likely the Bears could go that direction. Undrafted free agent Zach Minter is an unlikely option, too. But they’d still probably want to add at least one more player capable of playing significant snaps because the Bears like to utilize a rotation to keep everyone fresh. Even if Chicago finds suitable depth (which is highly unlikely), make no mistake about the significance of losing Melton.

Designated the franchise player (a tag that carries a guaranteed salary of $8.45 million), Melton entered Sunday’s game ranked second among defensive tackles in sacks (13) since 2011, and the thought was at his age (26), he was entering his prime. Melton hadn’t quite returned to form through his first three outings, but the club knows it lost a valuable commodity in the Pro Bowl defensive tackle, because his spot is arguably the most important cog in making the team’s scheme go.

Bears announce list of inactives

September, 22, 2013
PITTSBURGH -- The Chicago Bears announced their Week3 list of inactives going into Sunday night’s matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field.

The list includes receiver Marquess Wilson, cornerback C.J. Wilson, running back Michael Ford, guard James Brown, offensive tackle Jonathan Scott, defensive end David Bass and defensive tackle Zach Minter.

So no surprises on this list. In fact, the list of inactives is identical to the one the club released last week prior to its win against the Minnesota Vikings.

Pittsburgh’s inactives include quarterback Landry Jones, receiver Derek Moye, running back Le'Veon Bell, cornerbacks Cortez Allen and Isaiah Green, center Cody Wallace and defensive tackle Hebron Fangupo.

The Steelers also announced that Felix Jones will start at running back in place of Isaac Redman. Fernando Velasco will start at guard in place of Kelvin Beachum. Jarvis Jones gets the start at right outside linebacker, and William Gay will start at cornerback in place of Allen.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman returned to the practice field Friday, but is officially listed as questionable for Sunday's game at Pittsburgh.

Receiver Brandon Marshall (back) also returned to practice and is probable, along with tight end Martellus Bennett (shoulder) and guard Kyle Long (back).

Tillman's questionable designation means there is a 50 percent chance he’ll play. But the veteran hasn’t missed a game since the 2009 season finale at Detroit.

“He worked today. He worked about half the reps,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said. “We’ll leave it up to Charles and our trainers to see where he is. We’re optimistic, but we don’t know right now. That’s why he’s listed the way he is.”

Tillman spent the majority of Thursday’s practice with the team’s athletic trainers doing conditioning work, before participating in the team’s walk-through. The team sat Tillman for Wednesday's and Thursday’s workouts, but he participated more on Friday.

Marshall, meanwhile, dealt with hip issues early on stemming from his third arthroscopic knee surgery, but on Thursday experienced some tightness in his back toward the end of a workout, prompting the staff to remove him from practice as a precautionary measure.

While Bennett and Long were listed on the injury report, both participated fully in every practice this week.

Tillman out again, Marshall limited

September, 19, 2013
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears held out cornerback Charles Tillman on Thursday for the second consecutive day of practice leading into Sunday’s matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the team sat down receiver Brandon Marshall toward the end of the workout after he suffered tightness in his back.

“Brandon had a very good practice,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said. “Then, at about the middle to late practice, (he) tightened up a little bit. Just to be cautious, we pulled him out of practice. He walked around and moved around. We’ll just be cautious and we’ll have him limited tomorrow.”

Having dealt with hip issues early on stemming from his third arthroscopic knee surgery, Marshall hasn’t had any issues with his back up to this point. Marshall’s back tightness isn’t expected to affect his availability for Sunday’s matchup at Heinz Field.

Tillman spent most of the workout on Thursday with the team’s athletic trainers doing conditioning work, according to Trestman, who said the cornerback took part in walk-throughs near the end of the session.

“We worked actively with the trainers,” Trestman said. “He was limited.”

In other injury news, the Bears listed tight end Martellus Bennett (shoulder) and guard Kyle Long (back) as having participated fully at practice. For the Steelers, running back Le'Veon Bell (foot), cornerback Curtis Brown (illness) and defensive end Brett Keisel (calf) participated fully, as did defensive tackle Steve McLendon (hamstring) and tight end Heath Miller (knee).

Pittsburgh cornerback Cortez Allen (ankle) did not practice, and linebacker Jarvis Jones (heel) participated in a limited capacity.