LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) -One day after dropping the season opener at San Diego, the Chicago Bears lost defensive leader Mike Brown for the season.
Brown was placed on injured reserve Monday with a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.
It's the third season-ending injury in four years for Brown, the soul of the Bears' secondary. Joining Brown on injured reserve was starting defensive tackle Dusty Dvoracek, who also ruptured his left ACL in Sunday's 14-3 loss.
Brown was injured in the fourth quarter when Chargers fullback Lorenzo Neal, who was blocking, threw him to the ground. A team captain and former Pro Bowl pick, Brown limped toward the sideline.
He and Dvoracek, who missed his rookie year with a foot injury, were carted off the field shortly afterward.
With Brown and Dvoracek out, coach Lovie Smith said safety Danieal Manning and defensive tackle Darwin Walker will start this Sunday against Kansas City.
``Mike has gone through a lot,'' Smith said. ``He's our team leader, great guy, competitor. We all feel for him. If I continue to talk about it, I could get emotional just knowing what Mike Brown has gone through to get himself back in position to play.''
Although he's signed through 2008, the 29-year-old Brown's future with the Bears could be in jeopardy. His string of injuries started in 2004, and just like the two that ended seasons, this one came after he delivered a big play.
Brown's interception of Philip Rivers' pass and 27-yard return in the first quarter Sunday set up Robbie Gould's field goal. He also had a fumble recovery, before Neal wrapped his right arm around Brown's neck and threw him to the ground. No penalty was called.
``It's another sad day in the chapter of my football playing career, it looks like to me,'' Brown told reporters on Sunday, when he broke into tears in the locker room. ``I don't know what else to tell you guys.''
Smith sidestepped questions on Monday about the play, saying: ``There probably should have been penalties on a lot of plays out there that happened on the football field - on them and on us. The officials did a good job. You can't get everything.''
Will the Bears send video of that play to the league?
``Every play that we feel is missed, we send to the league,'' said Smith, who would not say if that play was one of them.
Missing Brown is not new to the Bears. In 2004, he returned a fumble 95 yards against Green Bay in Week 2 before rupturing an Achilles' tendon.
Against Arizona in Week 6 last season, he scooped up a fumble in the third quarter and returned it 3 yards for a touchdown to spark the Bears' comeback from a 20-point deficit to a 24-23 win. While the drama was starting that night, Brown's season would soon end. He limped off the field and was taken from the sideline on a cart after his right foot got twisted on a running play in the fourth quarter.
He had ligament damage that required surgery, the first of two major losses for the defense. Pro Bowl defensive tackle Tommie Harris joined Brown on injured reserve in early December with a hamstring injury, and the two watched as the Bears reached the Super Bowl.
The Bears made that run even though a defense that dominated for much of the season showed some vulnerability late in the schedule with two of their best players sidelined.
Chicago then acquired strong safety Adam Archuleta, with Brown moving to free safety.
Even when he made the Pro Bowl in 2005, Brown could not escape injury. He missed the final four games of the regular season with a calf problem, but returned for the playoff loss to Carolina.
``Freak accidents happen, but they seem like they've happened to Mike more than they should,'' Smith said.
Dvoracek, a third-round draft pick from Oklahoma in 2006, became the starter when the Bears released the troubled Tank Johnson during the offseason and held the spot after the Bears acquired Walker during training camp.

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