Watch CBS News

Joniak's Journal: Bostic, Jones Get Their Chance

By Jeff Joniak-

(CBS) The Bears (5-8) host the Saints (5-8) on Monday night. Here's what's on my mind heading into the game.

First impression

With veteran middle linebacker D.J. Williams headed to injured reserve with a neck injury, Jon Bostic moves to middle linebacker with all the responsibilities that come with that positon. It moves rookie Christian Jones into a starting role as the weak-side linebacker. I want to see what this duo makes of these opportunities over the final three games to help determine where they fit best moving forward.  They will be three-down players moving forward, and I hope they let it loose and play with reckless abandon. Just make plays.

Second thought

The Bears' defensive line misses Jeremiah Ratliff, who's battled a couple of injuries this season. His toughness and technique inside is still significant at 33. Young defensive tackles Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton repeatedly credit Ratliff for teaching them the ropes and for his leadership. Ratliff was limited at practice Thursday with a sore knee that has cost him the last two games. His 3.5 sacks in the first half of the October loss to Miami was impressive, but he's been inactive for five games this season, and the Bears are 1-4 in those games.

Third degree

With receiver Brandon Marshall on injured reserve, first-year player Bear Josh Bellamy out of Louisville is on the 53-man roster. In his rookie season in Kansas City, coaches made Bellamy and other young receivers prepare written scouting reports on opposing defensive backs. Bellamy decided on his own to prepare similar reports this season for the Bears receivers while he's been on the practice squad.

It serves a dual purpose.

"I just like to be ready," Bellamy said.  "I would rather know what I will see than be thinking on the run."

Bellamy judges the quickness and speed of the defensive backs -- whether they are one-or two-hand jammers; if and how they re-route guys in zone, essentially looking for all footwork and hand placement nuances.

Speed is the credit card in Bellamy's hip pocket. He admits his technique needs to improve, but he's hoping for an opportunity in the final three weeks. Bellamy has a history of making tough catches but also taking the easy ones for granted leading to inconsistency and some drops. He knows he has to make an impact on special teams immediately to be active on game day.


Thirteen Bears age 30 and older have missed games this season, with four on injured reserve. Only Jay Cutler, Tim Jennings, Jeremy Cain, Dante Rosario and Matt Forte have played injury-free this season past that age. At the moment, 15 rookies are on the Bears' active roster, and all of them have played this season, among the most in the NFL.

Jeff Joniak is the play-by-play announcer for the Bears broadcasts on WBBM Newsradio 780. Follow him on Twitter @JeffJoniak.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.