When the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears play on Thursday Night Football in week four, it will mark the second straight season in which they do so in the early part of the schedule. It also will likely be a repeat of last year’s game in terms of the two teams playing without major contributors on both sides of the football
Take a look at the inactive report for last year’s week seven contest:
Packers Inactives: RBs Eddie Lacy and James Starks, TE Jared Cook, CBs Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins, WR Jared Abbrederis, and S Chris Banjo
Bears Inactives: QB Jay Cutler, LG Josh Sitton, RB Jeremy Langford, WR Eddie Royal, CB Diondre’ Hall, DT Eddie Goldman, S DeAndre Houston-Carson
That list contains three Packers starters plus two key backups, and another four of the Bears’ starters. This week’s game should be much of the same.
The Packers are coming off a 27-24 overtime win over the Cincinnati Bengals, a victory earned with six starters inactive and unable to participate in practice for the entire week leading up to the game. That group includes the team’s best defensive lineman, Mike Daniels, and its best offensive lineman in David Bakhtiari. Add in the re-aggravation of offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga’s injury and the picture in the trenches gets ugly for the Packers very quickly.
Meanwhile, the Bears have already placed seven players on injured reserve, including linebacker Jerrell Freeman and wide receivers Kevin White and Cameron Meredith, all of whom were expected to start this season. Sunday’s game against the Steelers saw another inside linebacker inactive — second-year pro Nick Kwiatkoski — in addition to Sitton, who has moved back to right guard this season. Furthermore, the Bears saw safety Quintin Demps suffer a broken arm in their win, putting him out indefinitely and certainly keeping him off the field on Thursday, while center Hroniss Grasu injured his hand and is uncertain for week four.
It’s possible that the Packers could get a few of their injured players back in time for this game. It may have been a calculated gamble by the coaching and medical staffs to give some of those players an extra few days of recovery time, hoping that the team could make do without them against Cincinnati in order to see them back on the field against Chicago. Monday’s injury report should at least give some indication of whether any of them will have a decent chance to pay on Thursday.
However, there is a good chance that both teams will still feature injury lists a mile long this week, and it’s practically a guarantee that a handful of starters will be inactive for each team. The keys to Thursday’s game will be finding a way to win with backups on the field and getting through the contest without any further injury concerns.