Bears Notes: McClellin, Ratliff, McManis Out At Jets
By Dan Durkin-
(CBS) The right hand injury that Bears linebacker Shea McClellin suffered during Thursday's practice is severe enough that he will be out for Monday night's game against the Jets. A timetable for McClellin's return hasn't been established, but in the interim, Jon Bostic will play in McClellin's place as the Sam (strong side) linebacker in Chicago's base defense.
Also out for Monday's game are defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff (concussion), cornerback Sherrick McManis (quad), center Roberto Garza (right ankle) and guard Matt Slauson (left ankle). With Ratliff out, rookies Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton will see more playing time. Both rookies were on the field for meaningful snaps last week against the 49ers, so it's encouraging to see the rookie class making immediate contributions.
The Bears special teams units have struggled, but McManis has been one of the few bright spots. Cornerback Isaiah Frey figures to assume a larger role on coverage units in addition to playing in the Bears' nickel package on defense.
Defensive end Trevor Scott (foot) didn't practice and is listed as questionable. Wide receivers Brandon Marshall (rankle) and Alshon Jeffery (hamstring) participated in a limited fashion and are listed as questionable.
Defensive end Jared Allen (lower back), safety Chris Conte (shoulder) and wide receiver Josh Morgan (groin) all practiced and are listed as probable.
Similar offensive schemes benefit Bears preparation
The Bears first three opponents deploy similar running schemes -- zone read and traditional power plays -- which benefits Chicago's preparation, assignments and rules.
"We know how to play the zone read by now," Allen said with a laugh. "Obviously, it helps. Each game is going to be slightly different tweaks here and there because, obviously, each team has different personnel. You take what you can carry over and you harp on that. Right now, we have a lot of reps on zone read and our responsibilities. So, we've just got to carry that over to the game and be focused and come out with a lot of energy. Heck, it's Monday Night Football, if you can't get excited about that, you may as well retire."
Given the Jets lack of playmakers in the passing game, they figure to stick with the running game and not abandon it as the 49ers did last week. Ratliff being unavailable is a big blow to the interior of the Bears defensive line, as so far this season, the Jets have had success running the ball up the middle.
Bears offense sees opportunities over the middle of the field
The Jets secondary is both young and inexperienced. As a result of that, New York coach Rex Ryan has dialed up more seven-man blitzes over the first few weeks of the season. Blitzing in this fashion is a double-edged sword. If the blitz is successful, the Jets can either prevent the quarterback from throwing the ball at all or they can force an errant decision. However, when they are unsuccessful, they create opportunities down the field for the offense.
"The specific difference is, what we've seen over the last couple of weeks is the middle of the field has been open more with some maximum blitzes," Chicago coach Marc Trestman said. "For whatever reason, that's the way they've game planned the two teams that they've played."
If the Jets cornerbacks are unable to keep inside leverage, there could be some big plays over the middle of the field for Bears receivers.
Dan Durkin covers the Bears for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @djdurkin.
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