Now that we have enough distance between "The Coaches Show" and Jay Cutler and four interceptions and Lambeau Field, we can get fully immersed in the preparation for Sunday's meeting with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Here are five points to consider as we start the day:
1. The Steelers have 10 days to prepare for the game having played the Thursday game last week as the defending champion, but it still might not be enough time for inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons to heal up. He sat out the Tennessee game with a high ankle sprain and tweaked it in practice on Wednesday. That's not a good sign for a defense already without strong safety Troy Polamalu, who Love Smith called their best defensive player. That's high praise considering outside linebacker James Harrison was the NFL's defensive player of the year last season. Plenty of talent all around.
2. Linebacker Tim Shaw went through his first practice with the team Wednesday after being signed to fill the roster spot created when Brian Urlacher was placed on injured reserve. He'll work toward a role on special teams after he gets acclimated to the defense. Shaw was a fifth-round by Carolina in 2007 from Penn State.
"He ran a 4.5 at the combine and he's fast,'' special teams coordinator Dave Toub said. "We liked him coming out of school as a special teams player. He's a good athlete.''
Toub is going to be challenged against the Steelers with Hunter Hillenmeyer and Nick Roach being forced into the starting lineup at linebacker. Cornerback Trumaine McBride (right knee) will be sidelined too so depth will be tested quickly, and Toub will have to juggle lineups.
3. Lovie Smith didn't leave much doubt that Zack Bowman was movin' on up in the secondary now that Charles Tillman is expected to man left cornerback by himself after splitting some time at Green Bay coming off back surgery. Tillman was not listed on the initial injury report on Wednesday. Bowman is going to chew up playing time from Nathan Vasher on the other side if not take it all together, a move that has been anticipated since training camp when Smith said he was holding two starting spots for Tillman and Bowman.
4. What will the Bears do at wide receiver Sunday? Devin Aromashodu, who quickly emerged as a favorite Jay Cutler target during training camp and preseason, was not on the injury report after a slightly pulled quad sidelined him last week. In his place, rookie Johnny Knox was active at Green Bay and the speedster from Abilene Christian gained 82 yards on two catches, including the 68-yarder in the second quarter when he blew past veteran Charles Woodson. The Bears could de-activate veteran Rashied Davis, but he plays a key role on special teams where the Bears are already going to be short-handed. Aromashodu is the big target the Bears don't have elsewhere on the roster. Knox has Devin Hester-type speed.
5. The expectation is that Danieal Manning will eventually get worked in at free safety but with a back injury sidelining him in practice Wednesday, it's another road block in that move. Manning was supposed to win the job in training camp when a pulled hamstring kept him sidelined too often to qualify him for the job. In the meantime, Kevin Payne will have to improve his play because it will probably come down to him and rookie Al Afalava for a spot at strong safety. That's when Manning is finally ready to move from nickel to free safety. Let's consider the secondary in motion for the time being.