In a rare move that’s not that surprising but still notable, Bears defensive end Julius Peppers will be active for tonight’s game against the Vikings after being downgraded to doubtful on Friday.
The move appears to be a not-so-veiled attempt at retribution for the shenanigans the Vikings pulled on the Bears last year, when Brett Favre was listed as “out” on Friday, upgraded to “questionable” on Saturday and “started” on Monday night. So technically, Peppers has gotten healthier in the two days before game time than Favre.
That was just one facet of one of the most newsworthy inactive lists in a long time. Chris Harris, demoted from his starting strong safety position after last week’s loss to the Lions, isn’t even active against the Vikings.
That seems like a particularly harsh penalty for a veteran who was coming off a hamstring injury last week and is still the team’s best safety. Just nine days ago, coach Lovie Smith said of Harris’ impending return after missing three games: ”We think he’s good to go. We need him. We’ve missed him back there.”
But that’s not all. Nick Reed, who looked like he might be the starter at defensive end if Peppers would have been unable to play, is inactive. So is Corey Wootton, apparently recovering from a broken hand. That leaves the Bears with three defensive ends for this game: Peppers, Israel Idonije and rookie Mario Addison.
Henry Melton is expected to fill in at end, but the Bears also are short-handed at tackle with Matt Toeaina inactive because of a sprained knee. Anthony Adams will start with Melton at tackle, with Amobi Okoye and maybe even rookie Stephen Paea in supporting roles.
The other inactives are WR Earl Bennett, right tackle Gabe Carimi and quarterback Nathan Enderle.
As expected, rookie Chris Conte will start for Brandon Meriweather at free safety. Major Wright will start for Harris at strong safety.
Lance Louis moves from right guard to right tackle. Chris Spencer will replace Louis at RG.
That’s a lot of lineup and roster changes for one week in the NFL. That the Bears are at home and facing a 1-4 Vikings team surely has something to do with it.