They’ve peeled the tarp off the floor of Soldier Field, revealing the grass field that’s in fairly good shape for the Jets-Bears game that’s about to be played on it.
Snow fell lightly in the neighborhood last night, leaving some thin residue here and there in the proud stadium on the shores of Lake Michigan, but except for a few flurries, it’s expected only cloudy, cold (30 degrees) and gusty (13-26 mph winds) in the Windy City. It’s not like the weather back home at the moment, just your normal welcome to Chicago.
The 10-4 Jets want to wrap up a playoff berth today and avoid a win-and-they’re-in scenario next week at home against Buffalo. They can do that by beating the 10-4 Bears or by a Jaguars home loss to Washington (1 p.m. ET kickoff) or a Colts road loss in Oakland (4:05 kickoff). They’ll take any of the three, but a win over the brawny Bears would be the most satisfying.
But the Bears, who have already clinched an NFC playoff berth, still want to nail down their conference’s No. 2 seed, so they’ve got a bit to play for as well. And their fearsome front seven will want to get after Mark Sanchez.
The Jets QB suffered a sore right shoulder on a hard takedown sack by James Farrior late in the first quarter of the win at Pittsburgh. He was limited in practice all three days this week but he finally threw well on Friday and head coach Rex Ryan proclaimed him probable for today’s game.
Sanchez has not yet come out to warm up, while backups Mark Brunell and Kellen Clemens have. Does that mean anything? We’ll let you know how Sanchez looks when the full team comes out.
Update: 12:10 p.m.: Sanchez jogged out onto the field with Brunell and Clemens at 12:07 ET, jogged the length of the field and half of it back. He was flexing and rotating his shoulder, nothing extreme, and is now soft-tossing with Braylon Edwards along the Jets’ sideline. His motion seems fine.
The Jets inactives today are S Eric Smith, LB Jamaal Westerman, T Damien Woody, DT Jarron Gilbert, TE Jeff Cumberland, DT Trevor Pryce and DL Matt Kroul. Dwight Lowery will get his second start at safety in place of Smith, who made progress in practice this past week but is still sidelined with a concussion.
The Bears inactives: S Craig Steltz, CB Joshua Moore, RB Kahlil Bell, G Herman Johnson, OL Edwin Williams, TE Desmond Clark and DT Marcus Harrison. Caleb Hanie has been designated the third QB. Starting SLB Pisa Tinoisamoa is active but has been replaced in the starting lineup by Nick Roach.
Ryan’s gameday captains are CB Marquice Cole, G Brandon Moore, DT Sione Pouha, FB Tony Richardson and RB LaDainian Tomlinson.
The Jets will be in their white jerseys and white pants for the second straight week and the 10th time this season. They’re 7-2 in double whites in 2010 and 13-4 in the combo in two seasons under Ryan
Walt Coleman is today’s referee. This is Coleman’s 17th Jets game as referee. His first was the Game 8 home win over the Dolphins in 1995. His most recent was last year’s Game 6 home overtime loss to the Bills.
In the Booth
Jim Nantz and Phil Simms have followed the Jets from Pittsburgh to Chicago and will call today’s game for CBS. It’s the first time the Eye Network’s “A” team have worked back-to-back Jets games since last year’s playoff games at San Diego and Indianapolis and the last time in the regular season since the first two games of the 2008 season.
Tags: Chicago Bears, Mark Sanchez, Rex Ryan, Soldier Field, Walt Coleman
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