Bears on the Spot.................
Updated: October 31, 2011 11:34PM
ROOKIE: Chris Conte, FS
The third-round pick from California has played well in his first two starts, including a key interception at the goal line against the Buccaneers at Wembley Stadium. But while his speed is an obvious asset, itís his ability to learn quickly that will make the difference. He faces two top-10 quarterbacks after the bye in the Eaglesí Michael Vick (90.0 rating) and the Lionsí Matthew Stafford (99.1). If he adjusts quickly, he has a chance to be a playmaker in this defense.
VETERAN: Julius Peppers, DE
Just as an already-productive Jay Cutler needs to carry a heavier load for the offense, Peppers is a highly paid difference-maker who needs to raise his game if the rest of his linemates arenít going to raise theirs. Last season, the difference between Peppers and every other defensive end was obvious when he corraled the Eaglesí Michael Vick in a Bears victory at Soldier Field. He had six of his eight sacks during a four-game stretch. With the Bears 23rd in total defense, Peppers will have to reach even higher this time.
COACH: Mike Tice, offensive line
The offensive line was significantly improved after the bye last season. After allowing 31 sacks in their first seven games in 2010, the Bears allowed 17 in their next seven. After making progress in back-to-back games with the same starting five ó JíMarcus Webb, Chris Williams, Roberto Garza, Chris Spencer and Lance Louis ó Tice has a key decision to make when rookie Gabe Carimi returns from an injury. Does Louis or Spencer go the bench? Is Williams the odd man out? Or does Tice let this group stay intact and keep Carimi on the bench?