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Saturday, November 27, 2010
Bears catch break with Asante Samuel out

By Matt Mosley

The Philadelphia Eagles will line up Sunday afternoon without their Pro Bowl cornerback Asante Samuel because of a knee injury. Samuel leads the league with seven interceptions, and he would've made life tough for Bears quarterback Jay Cutler.

Nickel corner Joselio Hanson will replace Samuel and rookie Trevard Lindley will also see plenty of playing time when the Bears use three wide receivers. It will now be more important than ever to generate pressure with the front four. I don't think Eagles defensive coordinator Sean McDermott can be as aggressive with the blitz without Samuel playing.

The Bears haven't done a great job of protecting Cutler this season, so defensive ends Trent Cole and Brandon Graham need to pressure him early in this game. Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz will likely try to exploit matchups against Hanson and Lindley. And it's not like the other starter, Dimitri Patterson, is a career starter. He recently replaced Ellis Hobbs, who is out for the season following a collision during a kickoff return against the New York Giants.

The Eagles entered the season thin at cornerback, and that trend has continued. If the Bears can give Cutler enough time, he should be able to find Devin Hester and Johnny Knox on double moves. But I think the Eagles' pass-rush will be up to the test.