Some key names are on the injury report for both sides of this contest, most notably quarterback Jay Cutler for the Bears as he was ruled out earlier in the week. While Josh McCown steps in to fill the void, Chicago doesn’t seem as worried as most teams would throwing a backup quarterback into the fire. McCown has started games in the past and has served as a serviceable journeyman quarterback throughout his NFL career.
It will be up to the Ravens to stop McCown and the rest of the Bears’ offense that features a plethora of weapons at their disposal. Baltimore won’t be all that healthy even if all of their players play Sunday, so expect to notice some lingering effects of limited practice time throughout the week.
For the Ravens, defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (knee), linebacker Daryl Smith (thigh), safety James Ihedigbo (toe), wide receiver Marlon Brown (knee), Lardarius Webb (groin) and cornerback Jimmy Smith (groin) are all listed as questionable this week. The Ravens have four players who are listed as probable as defensive end Chris Canty (knee), running back Bernard Pierce (toe/knee), linebacker Terrell Suggs (neck) and wide receiver Brandon Stokley (thigh) all will likely see time on Sunday, with the exception of Stokley who might be inactive.
While Cutler highlights the injury report for the Bears, they have a few other players that round out the list that could make a difference. Linebacker Lance Briggs is listed as out with a shoulder injury, along with defensive tackle Jay Ratliff (groin) and the aforementioned Cutler (ankle). Charles Tillman has been placed on IR as well, and will not play in this game. Longsnapper Patrick Mannelly (calf) and defensive end Shea McClellin (hamstring) are doubtful for Sunday’s contest. Offensive tackle Jordan Mills is probable as he deals with a quad injury, but the biggest name on the list is tight end Martellus Bennett as he will be a game-time decision as his ankle injury continues to give him some trouble.
Bennett and Mannelly are two injuries that could affect the Bears more than most would think. With Mannelly, anytime a team has to resort to using a backup longsnapper, it’s not that the guy can’t do the job, but it’s such a niche position that it’s not fair to throw any lineman in there and expect them to get the job done. The Ravens take pride on special teams and if Mannelly can’t go, you know they will find a way to exploit whoever is in his place. With Bennett, he’s been one of the more consistent red-zone threats in the NFL this season and has given the Bears passing attack a third option to take some pressure away from wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. If he can’t go, Baltimore will have one less threat to deal with and they have to be thankful given how they’ve struggled covering tight ends in 2013.
I expect all of the guys to play on the Ravens’ list other than maybe Stokley, but it will be interesting to monitor the status of Ngata and Smith throughout the game. Both were hampered by their respective injuries in the team’s last game versus the Cincinnati Bengals and there’s no proof that they will be safe from those injuries flaring up once again.