Bears defensive end Julius Peppers officially has been listed as doubtful for Sunday night’s game against the Vikings, with a knee injury. Technically, “doubtful” means there’s a 25-percent chance he’ll play. Usually, a guy who is listed as “doubtful” ends up watching the game from the sideline in street clothes.
Our buddy John Mullin of CSNChicago.com points out that the Bears could be pulling a fast one on the Vikings, as payback for Minnesota’s handling of Brett Favre’s status prior to a 2010 late-season Monday night meeting between the two teams. Favre had been listed as out, and then on Monday afternoon he was magically upgraded to questionable. He got the start, the last one of his career. (So far.)
The Bears’ goal, in what potentially amounts to an elimination game for the No. 6 seed in the 2011 playoff field, could be to get the Vikings to prepare for the absence of Peppers, who has given the Vikings fits in recent years, even with Bryant McKinnie playing left tackle.
“I don’t know if they’ll completely change the game plan, but I’d say you have an entirely different attitude not having Julius Peppers on the football field, yes,” coach Lovie Smith said, per Mullin. “Great player. You have to deal with him. Especially in passing downs, you have to think about putting two guys on him and all those things.”
If Peppers doesn’t play, Henry Melton is expected to slide to defensive end, with Amobi Okoye taking over at tackle. If Peppers does play, the Bears will have a better chance of extending a 9-1 record over the last 10 years against the Vikings at home.