- Michael C. Wright, ESPN.com Spurs Reporter
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1. Corey Graham, CB: Filling in for the injured D.J. Moore, Graham generated three interceptions over four games, proving he’s more than just a special teams ace. Unfortunately, it appears Graham could be giving up his spot in the lineup to Moore, who should be set to return Sunday against the Denver Broncos. A five-year veteran, Graham is a free agent after the season and could be looking for an opportunity to contribute more on defense instead of solely special teams.
2. Julius Peppers, DE: Week in and week out, Peppers puts on a showcase of elite athleticism with his strength and sideline-to-sideline speed. Fellow defensive end Israel Idonije said Peppers literally throws around opponents. Peppers has contributed three sacks in the last four games. Against the Chiefs, Peppers didn’t have any sacks, but was plenty disruptive. Peppers posted four tackles, including one for lost yardage and broke up a pass.
3. Henry Melton, DT: Melton came into Sunday’s game tied for fifth in the NFL among defensive tackles with five sacks. But he tacked onto that total against the Chiefs for six sacks on the season, which ranks as the most by a Bears defensive tackle since Tommie Harris notched eight in 2007. Melton experienced somewhat of a lull in production in October, but has tallied three sacks over the past four weeks.
1. Caleb Hanie, QB: The team demonstrated faith in Hanie’s ability to lead this team to wins when Jay Cutler suffered the thumb injury that will keep him out indefinitely. But Hanie hasn’t proven the team right with his last two performances. Hanie has thrown six interceptions in two starts filling in for Cutler, with passer ratings of 56.9 and 23.8. The team continues to support Hanie, but his play definitely needs to improve for the Bears to get into the postseason.
2. Lance Louis, RT: Louis certainly didn’t help Hanie’s cause by struggling against the Chiefs. Interestingly, Louis had been one of the offensive line’s most solid performers since becoming the starter at right tackle on Oct. 16. So Louis’ struggles against the Chiefs seem to be more of an aberration than the norm, and we expect him to bounce back against the Broncos.
3. Anthony Adams, NT: Adams started all 16 games last season, but so far in 2011, he’s started in just four. In addition, he’s been inactive for three of the past five weeks as the team has preferred Matt Toeiana, Amobi Okoye, Melton and rookie Stephen Paea in the defensive tackle rotation. Bears coach Lovie Smith said earlier this season that Adams hadn’t been playing well. The veteran’s production may also be limited by back issues.
Michael C. Wright looks at which Bears are Streaking and Slumping.