(SportsNetwork.com) - With Chicago Bears linebacker D.J. Williams out for the season with a torn pectoral muscle, it's time for the next man to step up.
That would be rookie Jon Bostic, who will make his first NFL start when the Bears visit the Washington Redskins Sunday at FedEx Field.
Bostic, who started at middle linebacker during the preseason, got a taste of his first regular season action in last Thursday's 27-21 win over the struggling New York Giants at Soldier Field. Williams sustained a ruptured left pectoral tendon late in the third quarter against the Giants and ended his season with 27 tackles and two sacks.
Williams is the third Chicago defender lost for the season, joining tackles Henry Melton (knee) and Nate Collins (knee).
Now it's up to Bostic to be the man in the middle. Bostic had two tackles - one for a loss - versus the Giants and head coach Marc Trestman has faith in the youngster.
"I thought he was active," Trestman said of Bostic's play. "He was around the football. It's the next-man-up mentality and I think he's mentally ready to take on playing that position. The experience that he has will certainly help him down the road."
Bostic said this week he feels "more ready each and every day" and is grasping the defensive philosophy better. He was asked about getting thrust into the lineup.
"I wouldn't really say anything was too difficult about it," Bostic said. "Every week I'm preparing like I'm the starter anyway. I wasn't too surprised about it. But now I've got to step up. I don't want any drop-off from D.J. to me. I've just got to go out there and just prepare the best I can and go out there and do my best."
The Bears' defense hasn't been its tradition dominating self and is only 12th against the rush (102.0), 20th in total yards allowed (373.0), 23rd in pass defense (271.0) and 26th in points allowed (26.8). But the Bears have scored four touchdowns on defense: three interception returns for touchdowns and a fumble returned for a score. Bears defensive back Tim Jennings had a 48-yard INT return for a TD in the win over the Giants and finished with two picks. Chicago has won 12 straight when picking off a pass and returning it for points.
"That's what we do, we take the ball away," Bears defensive end Julius Peppers said. "We stress it in practice every day, and it carries over to the game. We have to continue to do that on a weekly basis to continue to win, and I believe we'll be able to do that."
Under first-year defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, the Bears are 30th with only 8.0 sacks. Chicago's main priority this week is to apply pressure on Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III and the team is only ahead of Pittsburgh and the New York Giants in sacks.
It doesn't help that two of the top tackles went down, but the Bears aren't making any excuses. Veteran linebacker Lance Briggs had the only sack last Thursday in that win over the Giants.
"I think we've got to get more continuity in our rushes," Trestman said. "We're trying to find ways to improve our techniques and fundamentals and coordinate different ways of getting to the quarterback."
The lack of pressure up front is one of the reasons why the Bears are struggling to stop opposing offenses. However, they're 4-2 and sit tied with Detroit atop the NFC North standings. Green Bay is just a half-game behind. After visiting the Redskins, the Bears will enter their bye week.