The Chicago Bears will look to get some momentum going on Sunday night when they take on the Los Angeles Rams in a nationally televised game at the LA Coliseum.
The Bears, who sit at 4-5 on the season after beating the Detroit Lions to snap a four-game losing streak, are in danger of falling completely out of the postseason race, and a strong effort against the Rams could help the team to avoid that fate.
Unfortunately for the Bears, the injury bug that they largely avoided last season has really bitten them hard this year. Trey Burton was placed on injured reserve during the team’s preparations for Sunday’s game, and linebacker Danny Trevathan is out of the lineup after suffering an ugly elbow injury in the team’s win over the Lions.
With those absences, the Bears will be relying on some of their less-heralded players to step up, and we’re taking a look at five players to watch in Sunday night’s game.
With Burton and Adam Shaheen both out of commission, the Bears’ tight end corps has seen its depth shredded, with Braunecker and Bradley Sowell now the primary pass-catching options at the position.
Sowell has been off and on of the team’s roster so far this season, and Braunecker is coming off of a game in which he snagged his first career touchdown reception, so the Bears could potentially lean on the Harvard-product to help give Mitchell Trubisky another pass catching option.
A year after he forced eight turnovers, Jackson has been largely shut down this season in that category, with one recovered fumble and zero interceptions to his credit through nine games of action.
Jackson spoke during the week about needing to step up his game in terms of forcing turnovers, and a game against the struggling Jared Goff and the Rams could be just what he needs to get right.
With Trevathan out of commission with an elbow injury, Kwiatkoski looked excellent in relief, racking up 10 total tackles and a sack in the Bears’ win over the Lions a week ago.
Now, Kwiatkoski will likely get the bulk of the snaps as the middle linebacker for the Bears, and his ability to command the defense and to help properly position defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano’s players will be instrumental in trying to slow down the offense of Rams head coach Sean McVay.
With Burton out and question marks surrounding Braunecker and Sowell, Miller could be primed for a big focus in the offense, as his ability to make catches all over the field could come into play. Whether the Bears want to try to use some of his speed on short routes or have him go down the field to try to stretch the secondary of the Rams, Miller could be a key player to keep an eye on.
Additionally, Allen Robinson is going to draw a tough assignment against Jalen Ramsey, so Miller could get some one-on-one opportunities in the offense, along with Taylor Gabriel.
Last week Whitehair and James Daniels switched positions, with Whitehair moving back to the center spot, and it was a rough transition as he had trouble connecting with Trubisky on several snaps.
This time around, the Bears are really going to need Whitehair to be locked in, as they’ll be facing a formidable pass rush that could get on Trubisky quickly if he struggles to get his hands on the football.