Standout safety tore Achilles tendon

Updated: September 20, 2004, 8:51 PM ET
Associated Press

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Mike Brown's five career defensive touchdowns are more than any player in the history of the Chicago Bears. Now, two games into his fifth season, the Bears safety and defensive captain is finished for the year after tearing his right Achilles tendon.

Mike Brown

"It's hard to replace a Mike Brown. He's a special guy as far as the lead is concerned," Bears coach Lovie Smith said Monday while discussing a rash of injuries to his team.

"I just talked to Mike about changing the title behind his name. Assistant coach now. That's what we plan on getting from him. Captain of the team, he can still do a lot of the same things he was doing before. We just won't have his leadership and his ability on the field."

Brown, who scooped up a fumble by Ahman Green and returned it 95 yards for a TD on Sunday to spark the Bears' 21-10 victory over the Packers, was injured in the closing minutes at Lambeau Field. He didn't appear to be hit on the play.

He left the field on a cart, his head covered by a towel.

Brown wasn't available for comment Monday but he faces a long and rigorous road back and watching won't be easy.

The Bears have already lost defensive back Jerry Azumah for most of the season after neck surgery.

"He's so passionate that it's just going to hurt him. Just like me. I'm so passionate, I want to get out there," Azumah said Monday.

"But I know I have to wait my turn and then eventually get in there. Injuries happen. It's a violent game. It happens, but he'll be back, that's the good thing."

It's hard to replace a Mike Brown. He's a special guy.
Lovie Smith, Bears coach

A second-round draft pick out of Nebraska in 2000, Brown drew national attention the following season when he made overtime interceptions in consecutive weeks and returned them both for game-winning touchdowns to spark the Bears to a division title.

Mike Green will switch from strong safety to Brown's free safety spot and make the calls for the secondary with Bobby Gray moving into the starting lineup at strong safety. Both Green and Gray had interceptions Sunday.

"It's not real good to lose Mike, but last year I started the last eight games and I think I did pretty well," Gray said Monday.

"Just another opportunity. I'm going to get in there and do the best job I can if I'm called."

Brown's injury was just one of several for the Bears. Defensive back Charles Tillman sprained his right knee and was on crutches Monday. Guard Mike Gandy pulled his right hamstring and defensive tackle Alfonso Boone sprained his right knee.

Smith said Gandy, who will be replaced by Steve Edwards, will be out for an unspecified period of time. Boone and Tillman will be re-evaluated.

After Brown's injury, losing Tillman would be another major blow, especially with a game coming up against Randy Moss and the Minnesota Vikings next week.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press