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Six weeks into the NFL season, the Chicago Bears sat tied for the NFC North lead with four wins and two losses. Then, Week 7 yielded three major losses, a defeat at the hands of the 1-4 Washington Redskins, the loss of linebacker Lance Briggs and the loss of quarterback Jay Cutler. The Bears lost 45-41, while their defence was burned for 499 yards by Robert Griffin III and the Redskins offence. Cutler suffered a groin injury and Briggs a small fracture in his left shoulder. Cutler is expected to return to the Bears offence in 3-to-5 weeks, while Briggs is out at least a month on the other side of the ball. Josh McCown replaced Cutler at quarterback and finished 14-for-20 for 204 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. The Bears used three rushing touchdowns from Matt Forte and an 81-yard punt return from Devin Hester to keep pace with the Redskins before ultimately falling. Following their Week 8 bye, the Bears sit third in the NFC North behind the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions. However, a win tonight against the Packers would put the Bears into a three-way tie for the division lead. You can watch the game live on TSN at 8:30pm et/5:30pm pt. The key question for the Bears is whether they compete in the division without Cutler. Chicagos next two games are both against divisional opponents, with the Lions coming up next week. With losses in both games the Bears would fall to 4-4 and be at least two games out of the division lead. The Bears will likely rely heavily on Forte in Cutlers absence, as the running back ranks third in the NFL in yards per game (76.1) and eighth in yards per attempt (4.6). Forte faces a tough matchup tonight however, against the Packers fourth-ranked run defence. The once-vaunted Bears defence has struggled this season, giving up the seventh-most yards per game and fourth-most points per game. If that trend continues the Bears will likely be left little choice but to put the ball in McCowns hands to keep pace with the Packers second-ranked offensive unit. McCown hasnt started a game since the 2011 season when he started two for the injured Cutler. He went 1-1 in those two games, with two touchdowns and three interceptions. His lone loss came against the Packers on Christmas night. Two straight divisional losses for the Bears could be the difference between making the playoffs and missing the postseason for the third straight season. Can the Bears compete in the NFC North without Cutler? As always, its Your! Call. Will Middlebrooks Jersey .C. -- The Carolina Panthers announced Thursday theyve signed free agent wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery to a two-year contract, helping rebuild a depleted wide receiving corps. Nolan Ryan Jersey . Peko, a fourth-round pick in 2006, started all 16 games and a playoff loss to San Diego last season. He was second on the line with 72 tackles and had a career-high three sacks. http://www.authentictexasrangersgear.co ... ls-jersey/. -- Keith Aulie has joined the Tampa Bay Lightning. Martin Perez Jersey . The 22-year-old Kreider was injured Friday night in New Yorks win at Columbus, but played in the next two games -- including Monday nights win over Phoenix. But the left winger, who has 17 goals and 37 points this season, was limited to about 10 minutes of ice time in each of the previous games. Russell Wilson Jersey . The 31-year-old, a two-time CFL lineman of the year, was among the most coveted free agents on the market. The Windsor, Ont., native will be especially important to a team that has lost veteran quarterback Anthony Calvillo to retirement and is expected to go with the less experienced Troy Smith and Tanner Marsh this season. RENTON, Wash. -- So much for concern that running back Marshawn Lynch would be absent from the Seattle Seahawks minicamp. Shortly after the first day of minicamp began for the Super Bowl champions on Tuesday, Lynch strolled from the Seahawks locker room with his No. 24 jersey pulled over a hooded sweatshirt. Lynch was just a spectator, spending most of his day chomping on sunflower seeds and chatting with teammates. But he was in attendance, avoiding the potential of being fined nearly $70,000 for skipping the mandatory team workouts. "We expected him to be here and he was here," Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. Reports surfaced last week that Lynch might consider not attending the practices in hopes of getting a higher salary for the 2014 season. Lynch signed a four-year contract before the 2012 season. He is scheduled to make $5 million in base salary this season plus per-game roster bonuses. Carroll declined to discuss any conversations with Lynch about his contract. "There is nothing in our conversations about that, the business side of it that well talk about," Carroll said. "There is no reason to. We havent talked about other guys in that regard so were not doing that now." Lynch was not available to speak as he sat out the practice with a sore ankle, according to Carroll. Lynch had not been present for Seattles organized team activities and because of a sore ankle, Carroll said it would be unlikely his running back would be on the field during minicamp. Seattles plan is to make sure Lynch is healthy for the season opener against Green Bay on Sept. 4, which will be a very light load of carries during training camp and the preseason. Even though the Seahawks staff at various times during the off-season has expressed getting more carries for reserves Robert Turbin and Christine Michael, Carroll reiterated that Seattles run game begins with Lynch. Lynch has rushed for at least 1,200 yards in each of the past three regular seasons. Hes gotten at least 285 carriies in each of those three seasons and last season during Seattles title run finished the year with 366 carries combined between the regular season and playoffs.dddddddddddd. That was the fourth-most combined carries for any running back since 2009. "We have rested him a lot in the off-season. He takes a big pounding during the year. It takes him a long time to get his body back to where he doesnt feel the rigours of the season thats past," Carroll said. "In this case its unique but he is a unique player and he has a unique role on our football team, so we have to do what we have to do to take care of him." Lynch could have faced significant fines if he decided not to attend minicamp, but he has shown previously he does not enjoy losing money through fines. Last season, Lynch begrudgingly began speaking to the media during the playoffs in an effort to avoid hefty fines from the league. That included memorable sessions during Super Bowl week where he answered questions for about 20 combined minutes during three days of league-mandated media availability. "Marshawn has really been the guy for us and we love everything about the way he plays and what he brings to this team. Hes never taken a step backward at any time for us in all the years hes been here," Carroll said. "From the day we went after him and got him we had sights on him becoming the player that he has become and he has never disappointed us. Hopefully hell be really healthy and ready to go at the season start and if we have accomplished that with this off-season that will be very successful for him and for our team." NOTES: LB Bruce Irvin, who had hip surgery in early June, was the only player not in attendance. ... Rookie WR Paul Richardson was a full participant after being limited in recent off-season workouts with a sore shoulder. ... 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