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Injuries Taking Toll on D-Line

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Injuries Taking Toll on D-Line

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DETROIT - OCTOBER 10: Matt Toeaina #75 of the Chicago Bears receives treatment on the sidelines during the game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on October 10, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. The Lions defeated the Bears 24-13. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

The Bears defense has many problems. They're giving up 24.4 points per game and 419.6 yards per game. Their secondary is floundering, and they're not creating turnovers. They're just not the disciplined, well-oiled machine that struck fear in offenses around the league last season.

Now, to add to these many issues, injuries are starting to pile up.

According to Wednesday's injury report, Julius Peppers and Matt Toeina both didn't practice. Peppers tweaked his knee during Monday's loss to the Lions. He was found to have a sprained MCL, but hasn't yet been ruled out for Sunday night's game against Minnesota. He has 24 tackles and five sacks against the Vikings over his career, so he could make an important dent in this game. Toeina sprained his PCL during the fourth quarter of the Lions game, and is expected to be out a few weeks.

Both of these injuries highlight the Bears depth problems on the defensive line. Toeina's back-up is Anthony Adams, who usually rotates in fairly often with both Toeina and Henry Melton. With Adams in as the starter, Amobi Okoye is the only defensive tackle back-up who has been active every game. Corey Wootton, who is playing with a cast on his broken hand, is the back-up for both Peppers and Israel Idonije. Okoye can move over to end in a pinch, but not if he's backing up both Melton and Adams. Second-round draft pick DT Stephen Paea has yet to make the game day roster, but the Bears may have to use him whether he is ready or not.

The slide puzzle game that Lovie Smith and Rod Marinelli will have to play with the line is made even worse by how much time the Bears defense spends on the field. The offense is averaging 29:02 in time of possession, so it's not surprising that the defense is exhausted and making mistakes. Even when they force a quick three-and-out, they don't get much of a break when the offense can't muster a first down.

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