Chicago Bears: 6 Players Who Can't Get Injured in 2012
The 2012 Chicago Bears are entering the season with a lot of hype with training camp just a few days away.
The management has done an outstanding job addressing the roster this summer, re-signing Matt Forte, trading for Brandon Marshall and signing free agents Michael Bush and Jason Campbell as key backups.
Heading into camp. there will be a ton of eyes on the Monsters from the Midway and for good reason. However, one aspect of training camp that is worrisome is the tendency for players to get injured.
We all saw what happened to the Bears when the injury bug bit a year ago when Jay Cutler and Matt Forte both went down in 2011. Chicago went from an NFC leader to limping to an abysmal finish.
Much like 2011, several players need to stay healthy for Chicago to reach its potential.
Let's take a look at five Bears who must stay on the field in 2012.
Right Tackle: Gabe Carimi
Both tackle positions are a serious issue for Chicago, as both Chris Williams and J'Marcus Webb have been terrible over the past few seasons.
Carimi went down a season ago, and the result was that Jay Cutler was a sitting duck when he dropped back to pass.
If he were to go down. either Williams or Webb would fill in, and neither are solid options.
Chicago fans are hoping that the former first-round pick will be able to stay healthy and help an ailing offensive line that has given up the most sacks in the NFL over the past two seasons.
Cornerback: Charles Tillman
A year ago Charles "Peanut" Tillman was all over the field for the Bears, playing in all 16 games and recording 99 tackles, three interceptions, two fumble recoveries and two defensive touchdowns.
The corner out of Louisiana-Lafayette has been a staple in the Chicago secondary, and he is one of the better defensive backs in the NFL.
The problem is that there isn't much depth behind him. What makes Peanut unique is his height for a cornerback—the veteran is 6'2", which is ideal for lining up against taller receivers like rival Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions.
Behind Tillman, the DBs lack height as primary backup D.J Moore is only 5'9". Kelvin Hayden showed flashes at times a year ago, and he has solid height at six-foot, but he has nowhere near the experience of a veteran like Tillman.
Defensive End: Julius Peppers
Julius Peppers is a beast on the defensive line and is a sack machine year-in and year-out.
However, apart from him, the Bears don't have much of a sack artist on the roster. In 2011 the Bears recorded just over 30 sacks as a team, and Peppers accounted for 11 of those sacks.
Chicago's defense was very strong against the run in 2011, coming in at fifth in the NFL and giving up under 100 yards per game, but their pass defense ranked 28th.
The lackluster pass defense was in large part due to the lack of a pass rush.
Behind the Bears' all-world defensive end is unproven and often injury-prone Corey Wootton. Without Peppers, Chicago would severely struggle against the pass. The team's next best pass-rushing threats are Henry Melton (seven sacks) at defensive tackle and Israel Idonije.
Linebackers: Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs
Brian Urlacher has been the face of the franchise for over a decade, and without him anchoring the middle of the defense, Chicago's playoff hopes would take a massive hit. Aside from Lance Briggs and Urlacher, the rest of the linebacker core have yet to produce at a high level.
If Urlacher were to miss time for any reason, the coaching staff might have to go with Blake Costanzo, who had just 12 tackles a year ago.
One option would be to insert Lance Briggs into Urlacher's role, but that would give the Bears Briggs, second-year J.T. Thomas and Nick Roach as the starting linebackers.
Thomas has yet to play in a game, and Roach recorded under 40 tackles despite playing in all 16 games a season ago.
Point blank, other than both Briggs and Urlacher, the depth is questionable at best.
Running Back: Matt Forte
Yes, even with the addition of Michael Bush, Matt Forte makes this list. After the star running back went down with an injury last season, the Bears offense was stagnant and pathetic.
Forte makes up just under 50 percent of the Chicago offensive attack, and you are going to tell me that Bush will be that much of a contributor if forced into a starting role?
However, the two together will make one of the better backfields in the NFL, and it has been proven that every team needs multiple backs to compete at the highest level due to the high injury rate.
With both Forte and Bush healthy, the Chicago attack is lethal. It was a necessity for the Bears to upgrade their offense to keep up with division rivals the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions.