Next man up for Bears in Dallas

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Faced with an 0-2 start and with a long list of injured players, the Chicago Bears travel to Dallas for a Sunday night date with the unpredictable Cowboys. Against mounting odds, the Bears are forced to look to backups to stand-in and make big contributions to prevent a 0-3 start to the season.

Journeyman Brian Hoyer appears poised to take the reins of a struggling Chicago offense, replaced the injured Jay Cutler. Though Cutler did travel to Dallas, it’s likely to be in a support/advisory role. Hoyer, while battle-tested, has a history of turning the ball over and lacks the playmaking skills of Cutler to turn broken plays into positives. He does possess leadership skills and a veteran presence that could benefit a unit that needs Offensive Coordinator Dowell Loggains to commit to the running game.

Depending on how long Cutler is out, and preliminary predictions hover around the 2-3 week mark, the Bears could be better suited with a conservative, vanilla attack that features a trio of rushers in Jeremy Langford, rookie Jordan Howard, and Kadeem Carey.That approach would allow the Bears to have a puncher’s chance, keeping the game close while keeping their defense off the field.

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Things are more cloudy on the defensive side, where Lamarr Houston is gone for the season  (ACL), promising second-year DT Eddie Goldman lost for a month (ankle), and ILB Danny Trevathan sidelined for several games (thumb). Chicago’s secondary is also depleted, an

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ominous sign in a pass-happy league.

While the Cowboys aren’t world beaters, rookie QB Dak Prescott has displayed the moxie of a veteran signal caller. Prescott, much like Philadelphia’s Carson Wentz, who played well against the Bears Monday night, has played relatively error-free football and been accurate.

Dallas most certainly will challenge the Bears downfield and try to exploit a deep patrol that might feature a pair of rookie starters. Chicago’s battered front seven will be pressed to hold up against the Cowboys strong offensive line, with rookie RB Ezekiel Elliott figuring to get his share of the workload.

Beyond the action on the field, the larger question looming is whether Bears head coach John Fox can keep his team focused and together after an uneven start to the season and prevent a tailspin that could reach into the month of October.

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