Bears defenders have been running in circles trying to contain the likes of reserve quarterbacks Kellen Clemens of the Rams and Matt Cassel of the Vikings.
So the news that Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers will return from injury to face the Bears on Sunday at Soldier Field figures to be a daunting challenge.
The 2011 NFL MVP suffered a fracture to his left collarbone on Nov. 4 when the Bears beat the Packers 27-20 in Green Bay. Now, with the NFC North title and a playoff spot at stake, Rodgers will take over for Matt Flynn when the teams meet in the regular-season finale.
Bears players are not counting on Rodgers playing tentatively because of the injury.
"I don't expect him to run as much, but he is a threat coming out of the backfield," Bears cornerback Tim Jennings said. "He's going to take what the defense gives him, so if we are playing deep and there's no one in front of him, I expect for him to run the ball."
The Bears, who are coming off a 54-11 thrashing Sunday in Philadelphia, also likely will have to deal with the return of receiver/kick returner Randall Cobb (leg). And rookie running back Eddie Lacy (ankle) is expected to play. The Packers average 131.7 rushing yards per game, seventh in the NFL.
"We expected (Rodgers) to play and we're prepared for that," coach Marc Trestman said. "We knew (coach Mike McCarthy) was going to get his team ready to play with whoever was available. He has proved that year in and year out."
The Bears are 5-2 at home this season and the Packers are 3-4 on the road. Because the Bears are the worst in the league against the run, the return of Rodgers has the Bears defense on high alert.
"He's a good decision-maker and he can move around in the pocket," Bears rookie linebacker Jonathan Bostic said. "We have to make sure the whole defense is playing together ... everybody is in the right gaps."
The Bears (8-7) resuscitated the playoff hopes of the Packers (7-7-1) last Sunday night with their loss to the Eagles. The Bears could have clinched the division title with a victory.
"We're thankful that we are in this position ... to be able to continue to play for something and have a shot to get in these playoffs," Jennings said. "IOf course, we feel like we should have set ourselves up in better position. But we're not out yet. We have another great opportunity Sunday.
"That's what we all play for, just to give us a shot."
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