The Bears must address their first-down issues on offense. They face an average of 10.3 yards to go on second down, which is the worst mark in the NFL. (US Presswire)

There was no sense in hiding it, so Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice didn't.

"We're bad on first down," Tice said Thursday. "So we're putting ourselves in second-and-long a lot and then you’re fighting to get back to manageable on third down.
"Our goal this week is to do a lot better job, be more efficient on first down, get that 4 yards running the ball and throwing the ball, you know shoot for six yards and get ourselves in a better manageable second down."

The Bears have averaged minus-one foot on first down. They face 10.3 yards to go on second down. Of course, that is the worst mark in the league.

An answer would be to run the ball better, but they can't be sure they'll have starting running back Matt Forte (ankle sprain) on Monday. He practiced only on a limited basis for the second straight day on Thursday, but he did practice.

Making matters worse for the Bears' running game is the loss of FB Evan Rodriguez. He was converted from tight end to H-back or fullback when the team cut lead-blocking, old-styled fullback Tyler Clutts in the preseason because they wanted a more versatile player in the backfield. But Rodriguez suffered a knee sprain and missed practice Thursday.

"We lose a guy like that and we take a step backwards in that area and we have to come up with other ways to run," Tice said.

Now the only player on the active roster who can play the spot is Kyle Adams, and he isn't close to being the blocker Rodriguez is. Tice admitted this became a factor in the second half against the Rams when he would have preferred a lead blocker but they had to run out of a single-back formation, which limits the type of runs he can call.
Bush OK: RB Michael Bush said the injury he sustained in Sunday's game when he took a big hit was to his shoulder, but he is fine and practiced Wednesday and Thursday.
Injury update: DE Julius Peppers sat out practice as part of the extra day of rest he's been getting due to foot pain. Long snapper Patrick Mannelly missed practice due to illness. WR Earl Bennett joined Forte in practicing on a limited basis due to a hand injury.
Realist: DB D.J. Moore had the most pragmatic reaction to the real NFL referees returning. “Either way. I just want to get my check," he said.
Follow Bears reporter Gene Chamberlain on Twitter @CBSBears