Secondary issues primary for Bears
As he announced the suspension of a player who hadn't been part of his team's rotation, Chicago coach Lovie Smith painted a somewhat bleak picture Monday for his banged-up defensive backfield.
First: The four-game suspension of offensive lineman Terrence Metcalf isn't an immediate blow for the Bears. Metcalf lost his starting job in training camp after undergoing knee surgery and has been backing up left guard Josh Beekman all season.
Of more critical importance is the state of the Bears' secondary. They finished Sunday's 22-20 loss in Atlanta with two healthy cornerbacks, and Smith couldn't say for sure how many of those who are injured will be ready for next Sunday's game against Minnesota. The status of Charles Tillman (shoulder), Danieal Manning (hamstring) and Trumaine McBride (shoulder) seems completely is up in the air; if anything, it appears Tillman will have a tough time getting onto the field.
The Bears almost certainly will need to push cornerback Nate Vasher (wrist) back onto the field after a two-game absence. Vasher would join Corey Graham and Marcus Hamilton as Chicago's healthy cornerbacks.