Bears stock report: Week Seven

Posted Oct. 24, 2011 @ 6:28 p.m.
Posted 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 Seven win over the Buccaneers.

Rising

Head coach Lovie Smith — Tension is one thing the Bears have had plenty of through the first seven games of the season. Whether it's disputes between players and management, players and coaches or the challenges that come with making an overseas trip in the middle of the season, Smith seems to be keeping his players focused. He even won an instant-replay challenge Sunday. The Bears are exactly where they were one year ago — 4-3 heading into a Week Eight bye.

Ex-Cowboy contingent — Roy Williams and Marion Barber, two of the three ex-Cowboys the Bears signed in the offseason (Sam Hurd is the other), each had their most productive performances as a Bear on Sunday. Williams had a season-high 59 yards on four catches and scored his first touchdown of the season and Barber had a season-high 39 yards rushing along with his third TD. Hurd hasn't made a catch since Week Five, but he's doing what he was signed to do — help on special teams and make a contribution on offense when called upon. Williams and Barber appear to be getting more comfortable with their new surroundings.

FS Chris Conte — Conte, in his second consecutive start, made the biggest play of his young career, intercepting a pass that Bucs WR Mike Williams failed to hold on to at the Bears' 2-yard line in the first quarter. It was one of two pass breakups for Conte on Sunday. He's still very raw, but we haven't seen the big plays that the Bears' defense was giving up prior to Conte, a third-round pick this year, taking over as the starting free safety. The Bucs' longest play was a 24-yard gain Sunday. Conte deserves some credit and it appears he has earned another start.

Falling

QB Jay Cutler — After two outstanding performances, Cutler's streak of games without an interception ended at two. He was picked off twice Sunday and he completed only 53 percent of his passes after completing 71 percent of his throws in the previous two games. He did connect with Roy Williams on a 25-yard TD pass, but Cutler didn't play at the same level he did against the Lions and Vikings.

WR Dane Sanzenbacher — He leads the Bears in receiving touchdowns with three and is tied for third on the team in receptions (19), which is a very respectable place for an undrafted rookie to be in. We've seen Sanzenbacher's production drop off a bit in the past two games, however, and he could be less of a factor once Earl Bennett returns from a chest injury and competes for time in slot. Bennett, who practiced all last week, appears likely to return following the bye after being inactive in for five consecutive games.

DT Henry Melton — We're just not seeing much production out of Melton of late. He has started every game at three-technique this season and made a big impact early, registering three sacks in his first three games. He has only one tackle and no sacks since then, though, and has been credited with only one QB hit in the past four games. 

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