"We’ve had a good camp, but camp is lingering now, it’s in its fourth week," Jauron said. "I want to make sure that to whatever degree I can, I give them their legs back for Saturday night. We worked a regular practice; we just removed the pads from them. That’ll help them a little bit, and then they have this afternoon and tomorrow and most of Saturday to recuperate and get on the field ready to go."
Bryan Knight returned to Bourbonnais, but did not practice with the team. Although the prognosis from the second opinion concurred with the Bears medical staff, the linebacker will not return to action until at least next week because his ailing right knee.
Knight will not require surgery, but will need to rest the injury for it to improve.
"The two-a-days just caught up with it," Knight said. "That's basically it. Now we're just concerned with it. So we just learned that the best thing to do is give it its proper rest."
What’s the team’s perspective?
"As an organization, we’ve always encouraged our players – whenever they felt like they wanted a second opinion or needed a second opinion – to go and get it," Jauron said. "We have great confidence in our medical staff and we want our players to, also. We care about the player getting well as quickly as possible, and part of that is how he feels about it."
In the meantime, Lance Briggs will start at strong-side linebacker. The rookie has shown great instincts for the game.
"We feel that Lance has a great sense of the game, a sense of the field, pattern development, reaction to a thrown ball – an ability to deliver a blow, to get the ball carrier to the ground," Jauron said. "Let’s face it, that’s the game on defense – get to the ball carrier, get him onto the ground."
In making one of the best catches in camp, Dustin Lyman looked to be on his way back to the Injured Reserve. He crashed into the goal post afterward but hung on almost in the manner of that great Bears tight end who once wore No. 89. For a moment everyone feared the worst, but he popped back up without pain.
"I kind of wrapped around it, I was sliding into it and I think I was slowing down as I hit it," Lyman said. "It didn't bother me at all. I get hit harder every day. So, no big deal."
Lyman is on the comeback trail after he ruptured ACL graft in his left knee. There was some talk that the injury might be career threatening considering it was the second procedure performed on the knee, but he rehabbed faster than anyone expected.
"Surgery is no small thing, and this guy’s really made a tremendous comeback, a tremendous rehab," Jauron said. "He looks to me like he’s the same guy he was before. I’m sure it’s got to bother him to a degree at some time, maybe getting a little sore. But he hasn’t complained, he hasn’t missed any time, and he’s really worked hard, worked through it.
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Another concern has arisen from Todd Johnson’s broken jaw. With his mouth wired shut he will not be able to eat solid foods, so nutrition and exercise become an issue.
"Hopefully he won’t lose a weight, hopefully we can keep the muscle mass on him, so when he’s ready to come back, he’s also very close to being ready to play," Jauron said.
"It’s going to set him back, there’s no way around that. But he’s impressed us to a great degree during training camp. We are counting on this guy, we expect him to come back strong and be a (special) teams contributor at the least."
Keith Traylor sat out practice Thursday due to illness, but is expected to play this weekend.
Anthony Thomas will start and get the bulk of the first half carries against the Broncos. Jauron predicts big things from his running back in his first game in over eight months.
"I suspect he’ll have a good night, he’s had a good camp, they’re an awfully good football team we’re playing, they’ll have something to say about that. But I think Anthony’s prepared, he’s chomping to get out there."
Adrian Peterson should carry the ball the majority of the second half.