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Bears stock report: Week Four

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Dan Parr

dparr@pfwmedia.com
Associate editor

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By Dan Parr

PFW associate editor Dan Parr gives his stock analysis of the Bears and identifies who, or what, is on the rise or decline following their Week Four win over the Panthers.

Rising

RB Matt Forté — The Bears apparently are not convinced that Forté is an elite back, but, in his contract year, he's determined to be one of the league's most productive. One week after being held to two yards on nine carries, Forté ran for a career-high 205 yards against a Carolina defense weakened by injuries at linebacker. He has 634 yards from scrimmage through four games, putting him on pace for 2,536 yards this season. At this point, he can have a few quieter games and still be in the hunt for 2,000 yards by the end of the season.

Devin Hester (the returner) — Ron Rivera thought he had a strategy to stop the all-time leader in kicks returned for a touchdown, but it failed Sunday, as Hester moved into sole possession of the lead in punts returned for a TD, making the 11th of his career on a 69-yard jaunt to the endzone. He also returned a kickoff 73 yards early in the second quarter to help set up Chicago's second touchdown. Hester doesn't appear to be slowing down or losing his spark in the return game.

ORG Lance Louis — Louis might have a starting job again after playing well at multiple spots vs. the Panthers. Chris Spencer started for Louis at right guard again Sunday, but suffered a hand injury in the first quarter and was replaced by Louis. Spencer returned to open the second half, and Louis moved into a rotation at right tackle, a position he had not played in the pros, with Frank Omiyale. O-line coach Mike Tice has been singing Louis' praises this season and might be ready to get him back in the starting lineup somewhere on the right side of the line. Spencer has a small fracture in his right hand, but the Bears are optimistic he will play in Week Five. ORT Gabe Carimi (knee) is likely more of a long shot to play.

Falling

Front seven on defense — The Bears were gashed vs. the run and allowed Carolina to gain 169 rushing yards on 26 carries (6.5 average). Chicago's pass rush was nonexistent for much of the game. Cam Newton wasn't sacked and the Bears weren't even credited with a hit on him. After pummeling Matt Ryan in Week One, the Bears have registered three QB hits in the past three games. That lack of pressure makes life difficult for the secondary and the defense isn't nearly as effective when DE Julius Peppers is kept in check.

S Brandon Meriweather — It was a poor performance for the whole secondary Sunday vs. Cam Newton, who racked up 374 passing yards, but Meriweather's mistakes were particularly glaring. He had coverage breakdowns, took poor angles to the ball and appeared to be freelancing while getting burned deep by WR Steve Smith. He also tried to deliver some kill shots, instead of wrapping up, and, instead of hitting the turf, Smith bounced right off him.

Devin Hester (the receiver) — Hester had made at least one catch in each of the last 48 regular-season games in which he had played heading into Sunday's game, but the streak ended, as he didn't have a reception. Hester's targets have declined in each of the past two games. He went from nine targets in Week Two to five in Week Three to two Sunday against Carolina. He has only 18 catches in his last 11 games, including the playoffs.

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