The Chicago Bears could be without one of the team’s best cover corners this weekend. Coach Lovie Smith said after practice today that nickel cornerback D.J. Moore hurt his ankle yesterday and was unable to go this afternoon.
“D.J. Moore hurt his ankle and was not able to do anything today,” Smith said. “We’ll keep monitoring his progress.”
Moore is tied with Brian Urlacher for the team lead in interceptions (3) and has been very good in man coverage so far this season. He also has value as a blitzer off the edge. The extent of his injury is still unknown.
“If he can’t go, we have a couple of options,” said Smith. “Corey Graham, being one of them. Tim Jennings has also played a little bit inside.”
It’s doubtful the Bears would move Jennings inside, as he’s established himself as the starter opposite Charles Tillman. The more likely scenario would be Graham filling in as the third nickel. Graham replaced Moore after he was ejected in the fourth quarter this past Sunday. Shortly after taking the field, Graham picked off Stafford in the end zone for the team’s fourth interception of the game.
It was just the second pick of Graham’s career though, as he’s been mainly used on special teams through his first four and a half years in the league. Which is why losing Moore would be so painful to the secondary. If Graham can’t handle the job due to his inexperience and the team is forced to slide Jennings into the slot, then Zack Bowman would most likely get the call on the outside. Bowman struggles against the run and in zone coverage, but he’s arguably Chicago’s best pure cover corner.
Bears not falling into trap
There has been some talk of this weekend’s contest being a trap game for the Bears. The San Diego Chargers have lost four in a row, while Chicago has reeled off four straight wins. Momentum appears to be fully in the Bears’ favor, a scenario that can easily lead the favorites to underestimate the underdogs.
“For me, San Diego is not a trap game at all,” Lance Briggs said. “They’re a team that last time we played them, we lost to them. Unfortunately, we don’t get to play against Ron Rivera being their D-coordinator, but there’s still some Bears and there’s a lot of Bear coaches on that squad.”
Philip Rivers, arguably one of the top quarterbacks in the league to this point in his career, has really struggled this season. The three-time Pro Bowler has thrown more interceptions (15) than touchdowns (13) and his 80.2 passer rating is a career worst since becoming the starter in San Diego.
“The NFL is tough,” said Brian Urlacher. “Sometimes you get tipped balls, we’ve seen a lot of tipped balls out of him. He’s had pressure on him. Sometimes you have those years I guess, just everything doesn’t go your way. Everyone goes through one of those at some point in their career I think.”
Yet while Rivers isn’t putting up his typical numbers, Bears players still realize he’s as dangerous as he’s ever been.
“Rivers has found a lot of success against us in the past, or found enough success to win in the past,” Briggs said. “So for us this is a game that not only we have to win but we have to play just like it’s a playoff game.”
Vegas coming around Bears’ way
The oddsmakers in Las Vegas appear to like Chicago more and more as the season progresses. The Bears’ odds of winning the Super Bowl have risen to 20/1, up from 35/1 before last week’s blowout win of the Detroit Lions. Chicago began the season as 30/1 odds to win bring home the title.
The teams with the best Super Bowl odds are the Green Bay Packers (2/1), New England Patriots (11/2), New Orleans Saints (9/1), Pittsburgh Steelers (10/1), San Francisco 49ers (10/1) and Baltimore Ravens (14/1).
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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.