1985 Bears Coverage: 9-0 Bears may rest banged-up McMahon

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Every day of the 2015 Chicago Bears season, Chicago Sun-Times Sports will revisit its coverage 30 years ago during the 1985 Bears’ run to a Super Bowl title.

9-0 Bears may rest banged-up McMahon

Brian Hewitt

Originally published Nov. 9, 1985

Steve Fuller may start at quarterback for the Bears tomorrow at Soldier Field against the Lions.

Then again, he may not.

Don’t hold your breath. Fuller isn’t holding his.

“Right now it looks like we’ll start Steve at quarterback,” said Bear coach Mike Ditka after yesterday’s practice, in which regular starter Jim McMahon did not participate.

McMahon was not listed on the Bears’ injury report Wednesday or Thursday. But a sore right shoulder has kept him from practice all week and he is now rated “questionable.”

Originally, the Bears reported McMahon hurt his shoulder in last week’s 16-10 victory over Green Bay. But yesterday Ditka said it occurred earlier than that.

“I think it’s something that’s been lingering a little longer than one week,” said Ditka. “We’ll hold Jim in reserve for Sunday. The shoulder hasn’t responded to treatment as well as we’d hoped it would. Right now we’re gonna start Steve.”

Fuller said Ditka hadn’t told him as much.

“I’m prepared to play,” said Fuller yesterday afternoon. “But we’re still 48 hours away. You certainly wouldn’t want to say something absolute and have Jim come back in 24 hours and want to play. I think it’s a wait and see thing.”

McMahon, who spent Wednesday evening signing autographs for a crowd of 10,000 adoring fans in Orland Park, once again dodged reporters yesterday on the subject of the injury.

Fuller’s last start came Sept. 19 against the Vikings in Minnesota. He completed 13-of-18 passes for 124 yards. But it wasn’t until the third period, when McMahon relieved Fuller, that the Bears began pulling away to a 33-24 victory.

The Bears had not planned to use McMahon that night because of an infected leg. Fuller was happy with the victory but unhappy about leaving the game. He says he has mellowed since then.

“I think my skin has thickened up since then. I certainly feel that this is what my role really calls for and I’ve accepted it.”

Ditka’s concern for the fragile McMahon goes beyond the game with the Lions.

“I just can’t take a chance, and we can’t take a chance, on it complicating the injury any further,” Ditka said, adding that he expects McMahon to be ready for Dallas next week.

The Lions don’t figure to be a team that will have to be attacked with the long passing game. Its run defense ranks last in the league. Plus, the Bears’ 9-0 record and four-game lead in the NFC Central gives them the luxury of giving McMahon a week off.

“The fact that we’re a 9-0 football team has something to do with it,” said Fuller. “As a 9-0 team, you can take extra precautions and that’s what we’re doing.”

In the 10th game last year McMahon suffered a lacerated kidney against the Los Angeles Raiders and missed the rest of the season.

Ditka also announced Tim Wrightman will start at tight end in place of Emery Moorehead. And wide receiver Ken Margerum will start in place of Dennis McKinnon. McKinnon and Moorehead are nursing sore knees.

Meanwhile, the Bears activated wide receiver Keith Ortego and placed wide receiver James Maness (groin) on injured reserve. Veteran Brian Baschnagel, though apparently healthy, remains on IR.

The Lions placed guard David Jones (neck) on injured reserve and activated linebacker Ken Fantetti. Larry Lee will start in place of Jones. Fantetti will probably start in place of injured Kurt Allerman.

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