Bears' Williams out for year; Bostic next 'next man up'

The SportsXchange

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears coach Marc Trestman keeps referring to the "next man up" philosophy in the NFL, but for his defense it has become next men up.

General manager Phil Emery and Trestman have several days to address the latest in a series of personnel losses suffered by the interior of the defense after middle linebacker D.J. Williams was lost for the season in Thursday night's 27-21 victory over the New York Giants.

It's highly unlikely they'll be searching for Brian Urlacher's phone number to talk him out of retirement, as they have rookie second-round pick Jonathan Bostic to step in for Williams, who suffered a ruptured left pectoral tendon against the Giants.

The Bears already had lost three-technique defensive tackle Henry Melton and his backup, Nate Collins, for the season, and nose tackle Stephen Paea is plagued by a painful toe injury that has kept him out of two straight games, and may even keep him out of the Oct. 20 game at Washington. So the middle of the Bears defense near the line of scrimmage has become extremely vulnerable.

Bostic, the former Florida star, displayed great athletic ability in preseason while Williams sat out with a calf injury throughout preseason. Trestman can't be certain how he'll do after playing the fourth quarter Thursday.

"I thought he was active. He was around the football," Trestman said, summing up the rookie's work. "It's the next-man-up mentality and I think he's mentally ready to take on playing that position.

"The experience that he had will certainly help him down the road."

The Bears did get three interceptions against a struggling Giants offense, but had a rough time stopping the run.

"I think the last two weeks we've been very good on defense," Trestman said. "In terms of our productivity on third down and in the red zone, we weren't (Thursday) night."

The third-down aspect of it, a 7-for-11 effort allowed by the defense, is in part due to a lack of pass rush. That is at least partially the result of losing Melton, Collins and Paea.

Players including David Bass, Zach Minter and Landon Cohen have had to take on roles in the defensive front, while Julius Peppers and Corey Wootton were moved at times to the inside.

And the depleted defensive front has now cast Emery's first draft pick, Shea McClellin, into the spotlight. McClellin contributed at times as a situational pass rusher last year. However, now his weakness against the run is obvious when the team moves him to end and slides Wootton or Peppers to tackle. It has many wondering if he can be the answer to a lack of pressure by the defensive front.

"I mean, Shea is a work in progress, but certainly there's evidence that he can be that guy," Trestman said. "We'll continue to try to do some things to move him around as well."

After Thursday's game, quarterback Jay Cutler was asked if the nature of the league has made it so 21 points may no longer be enough to win a game.

"You have to put up 30, sometimes more," he said.

The offense may find itself needing to put up more than 30 considering the manpower losses the defense is taking.

--Defensive end Julius Peppers was held off the game-day stats sheet again, fueling the fire for those who think he is no longer the force he was even a year ago. Peppers had no tackles or sacks.

"I can't speak for previous years. I know that it's not just one guy," Trestman said. "It's a combination of rushes and people inside and moving people around and how stunts are put together. I just don't think it's about one guy here.

"It's about us collectively continuing to find ways to get a pass rush going. We got close and Julius got close a couple times, too. We just didn't get close enough. We got close enough to redirect Eli (Manning) a couple times and push him out of the pocket. We just didn't hit him."

--SLB James Anderson failed to finish the game with a back injury that isn't thought to be serious.

"I think he'll be OK," Trestman said. "And I did get the report on what it was, but there's nothing serious there."

--CB Charles Tillman did not play in the game due to knee soreness that has plagued him since the Bears win over Minnesota in Week 2, but Trestman said Tillman may have been ready to go if the game had been on Sunday and there were a few days more recovery time.

Tillman had played in 55 straight games. His last missed game had been the regular-season finale in 2009.

--K Robbie Gould has matched the NFL record of 12 consecutive 50-yard field goals made held by Minnesota Vikings kicker Blair Walsh. Both players currently have their streaks intact.

--KR Devin Hester became Chicago's all-time kick returner in terms of yardage with a 28-yard return against the Giants. He later had a 22-yard return, too, and it brought his record total to 4,643 yards. Glyn Milburn had the old record of 4,596. Hester already held the team record for punt return yardage (3,020).
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