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Bears expected to start seventh combo of LBs

12/11/2014

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The shuffling at linebacker continued Thursday with the Chicago Bears placing veteran D.J. Williams on the injured reserve with a neck injury, which will force the club to move Jon Bostic from the weak side back to the middle.

Bostic took first-team reps at middle linebacker during Thursday’s workout inside the Walter Payton Center. Rookie Christian Jones is expected to replace Bostic on the weak side Monday when the Bears host the New Orleans Saints at Soldier Field.

"First of all, we’re not in the business of making excuses for injuries; we can’t," Bears coach Marc Trestman said. "Certainly we’ve had guys working in and out. It started differently this year with Lance [Briggs], Shea [McClellin] and D.J. Shea was out for quite some time with his hand. He’s back. D.J. is obviously out of the mix right now, and Jon is working at the position. We’ve got Christian Jones, [who] comes in, has continued to progress, getting more reps and more playing time. It’s part of the developmental process of our football team right now. We’re trying to develop players and play at a high level at the same time."

With Briggs and now Williams on the injured reserve, the Bears will face the Saints with their seventh combination of starters at linebacker (the Bears started out in nickel personnel for two games).

Chicago’s defense currently has four starters -- Briggs, Williams, Charles Tillman and Lamarr Houston -- on the injured reserve.

Bostic filled in at middle linebacker in Week 3, at strongside linebacker in Weeks 4 and 5, before sliding over to the weak side for the club’s past two games as Briggs’ replacement.

"You lose some experience, obviously, but it has to be a next-man-up mentality," Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker said. "That’s been our approach from the beginning. Obviously, you don’t want to lose players, but that’s a part of the game. You take it in stride. We have good players behind them we feel can step up, and get the job done."

In other injury news, the team held out safety Chris Conte (back) for Thursday’s practice along with kicker Robbie Gould (right quadriceps), offensive lineman Michael Ola (back) and linebacker Darryl Sharpton (hamstring). Defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff (knee) took part in a limited capacity, after sitting out the past two games.