This is going to be a bit shorter than previous bullet posts, as I have a very long look at this weekend’s game coming up this afternoon. (I waited to write it until I knew Rodgers was playing.) But in the meantime, there were a few interesting Boxing Day developments:
- As Brett posted yesterday, full-time State Farm pitchman/part-time NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers is back. (Hold your applause, everyone.) I’ll obviously have a much longer take on it this afternoon, but what I can tell you now is that I’m much less bullish on Green Bay’s chances than ESPN’s Jeffri Chadiha, who writes that with Rodgers back, the game is no longer in doubt. That’s certainly…an interesting take. It totally ignores the Packers defensive deficiencies, as well as the potential for rust from Rodgers. If you’re in the mood to feel disrespected by the national media, this is as good a starting point as any.
- Randall Cobb might also return; he’s been out since Week 6. That’s one extra weapon for the Bears to deal with, although as with Rodgers, that’s a very lengthy layoff from which to return. Eddie Lacy is expected to play as well, despite missing practice on Thursday.
- Earl Bennett has left the Bears to deal with a personal matter, according to Marc Trestman. Michael C. Wright notes in that post for ESPN Chicago that Bennett missed practice last week to deal with the same issue, so it’s possible he could still play on Sunday. As Adam Jahns pointed out in the Sun-Times, Bennett recently posted a request on Twitter asking people to pray for his brother. Hopefully he gets good news, regardless of his status for Sunday.
- In a move I’m assuming is insurance in case Bennett is unavailable, the Bears added wide receiver Chris Williams, who had spent the season on the Saints practice squad. Before this year, Williams spent time in the CFL, so there’s an obvious (though not necessarily huge) connection with Marc Trestman. Williams put up some good numbers in Canada, especially in the return game; at 5-8, 175, he’s likely a slot-receiver candidate, hence my assumption that he’s insurance for Earl.
- In a corresponding move, the Bears waived rookie defensive tackle Christian Tupou. Based on his game log, Tupou hadn’t logged minutes since the Vikings loss on December 1st; the emergence of Jeremiah Ratliff probably made him relatively expendable.
- Matt Bowen broke down more tape for Bleacher Report, and he wastes no time highlighting the Bears inability to stop a simple run scheme against the Eagles. He also had a piece for the Chicago Tribune in which he outlined how Aaron Rodgers was able to pick apart the Chicago secondary prior to his injury. Great stuff from Matt, as always.
- CBS Chicago’s Adam Hoge has a measured, interesting take on what he thinks Sunday means for Jay Cutler. A lot of media members might tend to make too much of this one game; Hoge nicely outlines why that might not be a good idea, while giving a few things we can hope to learn. (My views on this are somewhat similar, if you want a slight preview of this afternoon.
- The current weather forecast for Sunday’s game? Cold, windy, and a chance of snow. That allowed me to run my “bear playing in snow” picture, which I always enjoy doing.
- In case there was any doubt as to the game’s significance, FOX is sending Joe Buck and Troy Aikman to Chicago. The 506′s television maps show that this game will basically be FOX’s late afternoon national game. Considering that Tony Romo is most likely out, I’m sure NBC has some regrets about their decision to flex Dallas-Philadelphia instead of Chicago-Green Bay. But the ratings will be huge for that game even if Kyle Orton is under center, so I doubt they’ll lose too much sleep over it.