Chicago Sun-Times

Peppers doubtful, might not play against Vikings

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Bears coach Lovie Smith said defensive end Julius Peppers did not practice and has been downgraded to doubtful for Sunday night's game against the Minnesota Vikings at Soldier Field because of a sprained knee he suffered against the Lions on Monday night.

It appears Nick Reed would replace Peppers if he can't play. Corey Wootton is a possibility, but he is recovering from a broken hand.

''We've downgraded Julius Peppers to doubtful,'' Smith said after practice on Friday at Halas Hall. ''He wasn't able to do anything today. Still hopeful. When a guy doesn't practice at all during the week, we're not too optimistic, but we'll see.''

The Peppers situation bears watching. It could be a bit of gamesmanship by the Bears, who were miffed last year when the Vikings listed Brett Favre as ''out'' prior to the Bears-Vikings game last Dec. 20 in Minneapolis and Favre ended up starting. On Thursday, Israel Idonije said confidently, ''Julius will play.''

But if Peppers cannot play or is not 100 percent, it puts even more heat on a Bears defense that ranks 29th in total yards and has just four sacks in the last four games. If Wootton can't play, the Bears would have three active defensive ends -- Idonije, Reed and rookie Mario Addison. Henry Melton and Amobi Okoye could play end if needed But the Bears also will be without starting tackle Matt Toeaina, so Melton and Okoye will be needed there as well.

''I don't know if they'll completely change the game plan [if Peppers is out], but I'd say you have an entirely different attitude not having Julius Peppers on the football field,'' Smith said. ''Great player. You have to deal with him. Especially in passing downs, you have to think about putting two guys on him and all those things.''

As for the Bears ...

''You can do a few things if he's not out there, but if he's not for us, we need other guys to step up. We have a couple options to go with if he's not playing.''

All in all, it could be quite a challenge for the Bears defense. Rookie Chris Conte and second-year pro Major Wright are expected to start at safety in place of veterans Chris Harris and Brandon Meriweather.

''I think it's safe to say we have a simple enough defense for them to be able to pick it up,'' Smith said. ''But [Conte has] been around. It's not like he just came into Halas Hall yesterday. He knows the defense. That's not an issue. He knows what to do.

''It's just about a new player getting his first true action starting. Your first start, Sunday night game, everyone's watching. You guys met with him. I know he's pretty excited about it, and he's earned this opportunity.''

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Not having Julius Peppers will hurt, but I bet he plays. I think Chicago is holding him out of practice so he'll be ready for gameday. And we all know how the Bears are about letting team info out, they'll make the Vikings think he's not gonna play or just keep em wondering?

I doubt Corey Wootton plays, with a broken hand, he's basically useless as a pass rusher. It might be time to throw Wootton on IR and bring in someone off the street or move someone up from the practice squad.

A guy I wanna see play is rookie Mario Addison, he played with a broken hand last season in college at Troy and put up 10.5 sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss. He brought a lot of pressure of the edge during the pre-season. I don't see the harm in giving him a shot?

I loved the Brandon Meriweather signing, and why not, he was a 2-time Pro-Bowler in New England. But has been a major let down since Chicago brought him in. I think he's a major reason the Bears are giving up so many big plays. Meriweather takes bad angles in pursuit and goes for the big hit rather than simply making the tackle. I think the hope is a player like Chris Conte will play more disciplined football and stay the course. Conte was a reliable open field tackler at California, as a senior he had 72 tackles and avg 6 a game. Hopefully he's an upgrade GO BEARS!!

So basically with what everyone else is saying about Peppers, like Izzy who said he would play.

I thought you loved Corey Wooton? Now you want to dump him and its Mario Addison time?

You didn't know about the Mariweather thing? Some of us didn't like it, Sean questioned it day one and asked why would Bill B dump a guy. I agreed with him, and wrote some stuff down here that some Pats fans gave me and all of it turned out to be true. How many times do I have to tell you to ignore Pro Bowls, they mean next to nothing. How many Pro Bowls have Kyle Williams and Tommy Kelly been to? 1 Has been an alternate and the onthe one went once and those 2 have been the best DT's in football for the last three to four years. As for Mariweather, I don't think he has been as bad as Wright or Harris. It was Harris who messed up on the Best run with a bad angle and he went to the wrong gap. I don't remember who blew coverage on Johnson, but I thought that was Harris as well. Bears were in man, Briggs followed the TE who he is covering, which is his job, Urlacher filled one gap and Harris was suppose to fil lthe other. All three have blown big plays.

As for Conte I will never trust a defensive back who makes that many tackles, it means they are throwing at him, he can't cover or stay with a reciever out of their break. He was drafted as a special teams player, the Bears are punishing Harris and Meriweather, they are choosing the vikings game because McNabb has been very inacurrate and has problems getting the ball deep so they are not real worried about Safety play. I also would not be surprised to see the Bears go with a run heavy defense by putting in their best run stuffers on the line all at once.

Why should he play? He gets paid the same, play or no play, do good or suck, they all get paid the same! Why risk injury when the money's in the bank?

Creighton, I do like Corey Wootton as a prospect. And if you read my post more carefully, which you never do, I said to put him on IR (injured reserve), nowhere does it say anything about dumping Wootton? What are you talking about? Stop making things up. My point about Wootton is this, if he's to banged up to play this season, why keep him on the 53-man roster? Put him on IR, let his rest up and see what he can do next season. This will also allow the Bears to bring in a DE that can contribute, maybe someone on the practice squad or someone elses practice squad?

And what are you talking about what everyone else is saying? I heard a lot of people saying they didn't think Peppers was gonna play. So what if I give my opinion that I think he's gonna play? Whats it to you? What, I'm not allowed to give my own opinion anymore?

And yeah Creighton, never trust a defensive back that makes a lot of tackles? Yeah? Wow, I won't even bother/waste my time with that GO BEARS!!

Really Kevin IR and dumping him from the roster are the same thing. He doesn't play if he is not on the roster. So yeah dumping him, might I remind about Kevin Payne, your boy, the next all pro, you loved him because he led all DB's in tackles. You see when a DB has a lot of tackles it means two things, it means the QB is attacking him, and it means the rusher is getting to the second level. Gosh I can't see how that's a problem. While Tampa 2 DB's play a zone and support the run, you still don't want them having a ton of tackles. Int's PD's, yes, and if the tackle is a stop that's a good thing. But when your Safeties play 18-or in Conte's case 25 yards deep him making lots of tackles means they got how deep? Get it now?

By the way Kevin you didn't say this "I said to put him on IR (injured reserve), nowhere does it say anything about dumping Wootton?"

You said this, "I doubt Corey Wootton plays, with a broken hand, he's basically useless as a pass rusher. It might be time to throw Wootton on IR and bring in someone off the street or move someone up from the practice squad."

You will excuse me if after you called him a usless pass rusher, and stated you wanted him thrown on IR, and suggested the Bears bring in someone off the street to replace him, that I did not read those as complements. Well they are not compliments, so I guess that's why I didn't read them that way. Seemed rather critical if you ask me, "he is useless, throw him on IR, bring in a guy off the street." Lots of Wooton love there. Hahahahahaha

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