Chicago Bears face dangerous Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers on short week

By The Sports Xchange
Green Bay Packers Quarterbak Aaron Rodgers looks to pass against the Washington Redskins in their pre-season game at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland on August 19, 2017. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
Green Bay Packers Quarterbak Aaron Rodgers looks to pass against the Washington Redskins in their pre-season game at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland on August 19, 2017. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Facing Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers is usually enough to put the Chicago Bears defense in panic mode.

Doing it on a short work week has become an undesired trend lately thanks to NFL schedule-makers, and doing it on the road Thursday again without the veteran presence of Quintin Demps at safety makes it an especially difficult proposition.


"There's not really much he can't do as a quarterback on the football field," Bears safety Adrian Amos said of Rodgers. "He can run, he can throw, he can throw on the run."

Rodgers did all of those against the Bears last year on one play when he scrambled and heaved a football 60 yards to a waiting Jordy Nelson and set up a game-winning field goal late in the fourth quarter.


Now the Bears secondary must figure a way to stop Rodgers in a short work week for the third straight year without 10-year veteran Demps, because of a broken arm. They signed Demps in free agency to help end their problems defending deep, but are back to relying on Amos at one safety spot.

Amos, who started in 2015 and 2016, will line up alongside rookie safety Eddie Jackson and it might seem an open invitation for the Packers to throw deep.

"Eddie Jackson, I think, is not your normal rookie in those areas," Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. "He's got good presence out there. Amos has played a lot. I think we'll be fine."

The two have one edge other Bears defenses haven't enjoyed in recent years: good pass coverage from cornerbacks.

Prince Amukamara played last week for the first time since suffering an ankle injury in Week 3 of preseason, and Fangio used him in a three-man rotation with Kyle Fuller and Marcus Cooper.

Bears cornerbacks had an unusually high six pass deflections last week against Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger.

Fuller, in particular, has been strong after being frustrated and missing last season with a knee that never healed following preseason arthroscopic surgery.


"I think anytime a player's injured, the frustration level mounts, and particularly for him," head coach John Fox said. "These guys work long and hard every season to prepare and get ready for a season and that's kind of the fun part. He wasn't able to do that physically. I don't think it was a matter of want-to. He just wasn't capable.

"He's worked very hard like a lot of guys coming off of injuries from a year ago and it's good to see him enjoying some success."

The Bears had an option year on Fuller's contract for 2018, but never exercised it. Now he might make them regret it.

"Nothing but a true pro, just how he's responding this year," Amukamara said. "With the team not picking up his option, you would think a guy would be down on himself and have no confidence, but he's coming out swinging.

"He's been playing real tough. It's one of the reasons we're in a three-corner rotation and I'm definitely proud of him."

Fangio said Amukamara's return last week was largely successful except for a 7-yard touchdown he allowed to Antonio Brown while playing eight yards off the receiver inside the 10. Also, the defense still has no interceptions after making a franchise low eight each of the past two years.


The extent of their cornerback rotation or who starts won't be known until just before the game.

"I think it's great to have all our best guys on the field and to have them fresh," Amukamara said.

Rodgers' mobility can force them to match up with defenders even if they're in a zone.

"You have to cover receivers longer," Amos said. "To cover receivers for seven, eight seconds is a long time. But I think our D-line will do a good job getting after him, and then when he does try to extend plays, we have to do a great job of plastering on receivers."

Secondary players say Rodgers has plenty of veteran tricks, like cadence changes while calling signals or catching opponents with too many on the field by getting it snapped while they're switching defensive personnel.

"I think everybody knows that's his little card in his back pocket," Amukamara said. "Even though teams know that, he still happens to pull it off. We definitely have to be cognizant of it."

The Bears rank 12th defensively after three weeks, despite playing three high-powered offenses: Atlanta in Week 1, Tampa Bay in Week 2 and Pittsburgh last week. They've done it despite losing linebacker starters Jerrell Freeman and Nick Kwiatkoski due to pectoral injuries.


"I think we've played the type of football that we're capable and are utilizing our talents, much like Game 1, to give us an opportunity to win," Fox said. "Unfortunately, in Week 1 we came up short. We gave ourselves no chance in Week 2. And in Week 3 we were able to get it done."

Doing this with a veteran safety out, after a short week of preparing for Rodgers on the road would go a long way toward earning much sought-after respect and their first winning streak since 2015.

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