Wednesday, December 7, 2011
D.J. Moore back for Bears
By Jeff Dickerson
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears nickelback D.J. Moore expects to be back in the mix this week after he was forced to sit out the past three games due to a sprained ankle.
Moore tested out the ankle last week in limited fashion, but practiced Wednesday without restrictions as the Bears prepare to battle Denver on Sunday.
"I feel good; today the ankle feels awesome," Moore said. "I'll be out there full go today. It's been tough to be out. It's difficult to watch any game you are losing, but I think it's even tougher during warmups when you have to watch everybody get ready and you're standing there with your sweats on."
Even with Moore healthy, it remains to be seen how the Bears approach the nickel situation. First of all, Moore's replacement in the slot, Corey Graham, has done an excellent job stepping in the past few games and is tied for the club lead with three interceptions. You can make the argument Graham has earned additional playing time based on his productivity since Moore hurt the ankle near the end of practice a few days before the Bears took on San Diego on Nov. 20.
Secondly, the Tim Tebow-led Broncos rank No. 31 in passing offense (155.8), compared to No. 1 in rushing offense (158.9). Since Denver has limited success moving the ball through the air, do the Bears really need to bring in an extra defensive back?
"They'll probably throw the ball on third down or if they get down at some point," Moore said. "Tebow is a good player, who makes plays. He also does a really good job of taking care of the ball. But he likes to run. As a defense, we're used to the mobile quarterbacks. Don't forget, we already played Michael Vick. Cam Newton is extremely athletic, so you worry about Tebow running, but you don't worry about him running away from you. But he does make a lot of plays with his feet."
Tebow has completed just 47.5 percent of his throws, but as Moore pointed out, he protects the football. Since taking over the starting job, the quarterback has tossed 10 touchdowns to one interception in 158 pass attempts. Still, Tebow's bread and butter is the ground game, which could mean increased reps for strong side linebacker Nick Roach at the expense of the Bears' nickelbacks.
Jeff Dickerson covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com.