Bears forced to adjust without Rodriguez
September, 28, 2012
By Jeff Dickerson | ESPNChicago.com
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- A knee injury to rookie fullback Evan Rodriguez is expected to force the Bears to make a couple of minor tweaks on both offense and special teams heading into their Monday night game in Dallas.
Nam Y. Huh/AP PhotoEvan Rodriguez will miss Monday night's game with a knee injury.
The Bears used a fourth-round draft pick on Rodriguez because they envisioned a scenario where the Temple product could step in right away and be plugged into a role on offense while also being used as a contributor on special teams. Rodriguez did not disappoint and had a strong start to the year until suffering a knee injury on the opening kickoff last week versus the St. Louis Rams which limited him to just five snaps before he was officially ruled out of the game.
With Rodriguez out, the Bears played hybrid tight end Kyle Adams 10 snaps in Week 3, approximately the same amount of time Rodriguez got with the offense the week before (12 snaps). Fellow tight end Matt Spaeth also had a dramatic spike in his playing time with 31 snaps as the Bears routinely went to a double-tight end formation.
Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice discussed how the team plans to slightly alter its approach with Rodriguez likely out on Monday after he missed practice the last three days.
“Evan we moved and put a 40 number on because we felt like he could play on the line of scrimmage and play in the backfield," Tice said. "We know he had a couple of good games and some good plays. When you lose a guy like that we take a step backward in that area.
"We have to come up with other ways to run other plays. Like last week, we ran the ball good in the first half then we were strictly single back wing, it takes away from things. So you have to massage that a little bit and come up with some other ways to run the football, as opposed to always being in single back, wing or single back, two tight ends on the edge.”
As for special teams, Rodriguez was a two-phase starter on punt and kickoff return for Bears special teams coordinator Dave Toub who is expected to turn to safety Anthony Walters (punt) and strong side linebacker Nick Roach (kickoff) to fill the void.
"He was a two-phase starter, so we have to get him replaced on two phases," Toub said of Rodriguez. "We're going to miss him, but the next guy up will come in and do a good job for us.
"Walters is the slot on punt and he played a lot for us last year and this year both so it's not going to be a big drop off there. Nick Roach is probably one of the best front-line guys. He'll go in and play on kickoff return so we'll be fine in those spots."