Chicago Bears ‘cautiously optimistic’ Mitchell Trubisky faces Detroit Lions

LAKE FOREST, Ill. – The Chicago Bears are “cautiously optimistic” that quarterback Mitchell Trubisky will play in Thursday’s game at Detroit despite a right shoulder injury, head coach Matt Nagy said on Tuesday.

Chicago is officially calling Trubisky “day-to-day” after the 24-year old quarterback injured his throwing shoulder on a late hit by Minnesota safety Harrison Smith near the end of the fourth quarter in last Sunday night’s 25-20 victory over the Vikings.

“What’s my sense [on whether Trubisky plays on Thanksgiving]? I’m saying cautiously optimistic but I can’t make any promises,” Nagy said. “I hope he does. But it’s a day-to-day thing for us, like I said. He wants to play. I know that. And for us, we got to make sure in these situations that we’re doing the right thing.”

Trubisky is not expected to practice on Tuesday, according to Nagy.

The Bears also abruptly cancelled Trubisky’s weekly press conference.

Chicago will become the first team since the 1970 merger to play a Sunday night game followed by a Thursday day game, which further complicates Trubisky’s predicament.

“The fact that you don’t have more time can affect our decision a little bit, but again, every injury’s a little bit different, so I’m just going to rely on our training staff and on Mitch,” Nagy said.

Over Chicago’s last six games, Trubisky has 2,832 yards of total offense and has accounted for 23 touchdowns to go along with three 2-point conversions. Trubisky had arguably one of the best games of his young career against the Lions two weeks ago when he completed 23 of 30 pass attempts for 355 yards, three touchdowns, zero interceptions and a rushing touchdown.

In the event Trubisky is sidelined, the Bears will start veteran backup Chase Daniel, who signed a two-year deal with Chicago that included $7 million in guaranteed money in the offseason. Prior to joining the Bears, Daniel played under Nagy for three seasons in Kansas City. Nagy served as the Chiefs quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator before accepting the Bears’ top job in January.

“I haven’t gotten any reps with the first-team this year, but it’s the same offense that I was in for five years, so for me, it’s mostly the same plays,” Daniel said. “We’ve got some tweaks here and there and obviously different personnel but I know the offense like the back of my hand.”

Added Nagy: “I know Chase inside-out; he knows me inside-out. If that’s the route we go, we keep plugging away and that’s just part of football. If not, then it’s nice to know we’ve got Chase.”

Daniel, 32, hasn’t started an NFL game since the 2014 season.

The Bears are scheduled to report to the team facility on Wednesday for meetings and a light walk thru before departing for Detroit.

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Chicago Bears forced to quickly turn focus to Detroit Lions

LAKE FOREST, Ill. — Less than 12 hours after the Chicago Bears earned their most important regular-season victory in close to a decade, coach Matt Nagy is already bracing for one of the tightest turnarounds in league history.

“I don’t think there are many coaches or players that have ever been through a Sunday night game to a day game on a Thursday, but that’s what it is,” Nagy said on Monday.

The NFL’s decision to flex Chicago’s Week 11 game against the Minnesota Vikings to Sunday night means the Bears will become the first team since the 1970 merger to play at 1 p.m. ET or earlier on three days rest immediately following a prime-time game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

The Bears (7-3), fresh off their 25-20 win over the Vikings, have to now play Thursday in Detroit where kickoff is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. ET.

“I have not gone back and watched the tape of the Vikings game, so we’re on to Detroit,” Nagy said. “What I saw last night was what I saw. We’re moving on here to Detroit.”

Nagy told reporters that Bears players will report to Halas Hall on Monday afternoon for classroom work and possibly a light walk-through before the team holds a regular practice on Tuesday. The Bears depart for Detroit on Wednesday.

“The No. 1 thing is to make sure these guys are taken care of, see where they’re at physically and then mentally,” Nagy said. “But really we just want to send home the message of ‘here we go.’ It’s right back at it.”

“We want to work smarter, not harder.”

Adding to the scheduling quirk is the fact Chicago just faced the Lions on Nov. 11, a game the Bears won convincingly 34-22.

“We’ll just have to handle what we can handle, prepare as we prepare,” Nagy said. “They’re on a short week, too. To me, there’s no advantage or disadvantage either way.”

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Bears prove they’re back, assume control of NFC North – Chicago Bears Blog

CHICAGO — The Chicago Bears moved one giant step closer to ending their seven-year playoff drought with Sunday night’s 25-20 win against the Vikings, a victory so meaningful that even skeptics of the Bears’ early success must admit the road to the NFC North title runs through Chicago.

The Bears (7-3) were easy for many to dismiss because they lacked a signature win against a quality opponent.

Well, that narrative is no longer valid.

The Bears are back. Football relevance has returned to Chicago.

“This is a team [Minnesota] that made it to the NFC Championship Game last year, being able to play some good football, they’re good,” Bears head coach Matt Nagy said. “We know that and our guys want to be a part of that, so that’s what we were able to do.”

“I think being able to play four quarters of good football against that team to get the win shows that we’re headed in the right direction.”

The Bears now have an 87 percent chance of making the playoffs and 73 percent chance to win the division, according to ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI).

And the best part: The Bears appear on the verge of building something with staying power. Chicago’s roster is loaded with a nucleus of young players at key positions, and, of course, the Bears also have star pass-rusher Khalil Mack, who tormented the Vikings’ suspect offensive line.

The Bears dominated on defense on Sunday. Dominated.

The Vikings’ offense looked helpless at times as the Bears forced three turnovers. Chicago now has a league-best 18 interceptions this season. The Bears had only 16 combined interceptions over the 2016-17 seasons.

Another encouraging development was the way Nagy outclassed Minnesota’s formidable defense early on with innovative and creative playcalls. Nagy catered to every one of quarterback Mitchell Trubisky‘s strengths. The Bears’ offense often went hurry-up, moved the pocket on designed rollouts to give Trubisky better passing lanes, and attacked Minnesota with misdirection run plays.

The Bears’ offense lost momentum after halftime, but did enough to stake the team to a two-touchdown lead. The defense took care of the rest.

Trubisky made mostly good decisions with the football, although his numbers were average, at best. The 24-year-old quarterback finished the game 20-of-31 for 165 passing yards, one touchdown, two interceptions and 45 rushing yards.

Did Trubisky play his best against the Vikings? Not even close.

But the second overall pick of the 2017 NFL draft looked better than his Minnesota counterpart, Kirk Cousins, whom the Vikings guaranteed $84 million over three years in the offseason.

The stakes were incredibly high this week in Chicago. The Bears hadn’t played a truly important contest since the end of the 2013 regular season. News stations even sent helicopters midweek to film embattled kicker Cody Parkey‘s late-night practice at Soldier Field — Parkey, by the way, made all of his kicks against the Vikings after hitting the uprights four times the week before.

The city wanted to believe the Bears were for real.

Chicago got its answer on Sunday night.

“We just have to keep it rolling,” Trubisky said. “There are going to be more outsiders and media saying that you guys predicted this all along even though you guys didn’t. No one believed in us except our locker room. We’re going to continue to stick together and become closer and closer and look at it one game at a time. Stay hungry. Stay humble.”

The Bears next have a quick turnaround against banged-up Detroit (4-6) on Thanksgiving followed by another winnable road game against the Giants (3-7).

The Bears are on their way to hosting their first playoff game since 2010.

Believe it.

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Inside the love story between Khalil Mack and Chicago – Chicago Bears Blog

CHICAGO — When Khalil Mack was traded to the Bears on Sept. 1 — just a week before the season began — the pass-rusher became a model for seamless transitions.

After signing the richest deal for a defender in NFL history ($141 million, including $90 million in guarantees), Mack initially joked he needed to “get on the phone with my financial adviser to figure out what I can afford” in terms of housing. It took him less than two weeks to close on a $3.75 million, six-bedroom, 7½-bathroom, four-fireplace mansion in the North Chicago suburbs.

Despite not knowing most of his new teammates’ names, he quickly made friends (and fans) in the locker room.

“I’m not trying to be all up on him but … That’s just a guy you want around,” linebacker Aaron Lynch said, just a month into Mack’s tenure. “If you get into a bar fight, you want him in your corner. You want to hang out with him. You want him at your wedding.”

And of course, despite not knowing the Bears’ defense, Mack made history by tormenting quarterbacks with a sack and a forced fumble in each of his first four games, the first player to hit that streak in 13 years. Despite missing two games to nurse an injured right ankle, Mack is still tied for the league lead with four forced fumbles.

Entering Sunday night’s prime-time home game against the Vikings — in which the Bears look to fend off Minnesota for the NFC North lead — Mack is averaging a sack per game. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Mack has registered a sack on 3.7 percent of his pass rushes. Last season, no Bears player with at least 200 pass rushes had a sack rate higher than 1.8 percent.

But what the 27-year-old Florida native could not account for was just how thirsty the Bears’ fan base was for a player like him. On the team’s bye week, the former Oakland Raider caught up on errands. He went to Home Goods and Target. Anywhere he went, he was recognized.

“That’s the difference [from Oakland] — it’s everywhere,” Mack said. “It don’t matter where I’m at. It could be a mother of two, and she’ll be a fan. And it’s random as hell to me.”

‘They’re falling in love’

Mack called the city’s fan base “aggressive” — in a good way. Those who have been here longer say Mack’s experiences aren’t surprising at all.

“It’s a quarterback-driven league, but this is a defensive-driven town,” said right guard Kyle Long, a six-year veteran with the Bears. “We have a really good quarterback [Mitchell Trubisky], but we know what the city prides itself on. That’s why they’re falling in love with a guy like Khalil Mack.”

Iconic defenders — think Dick Butkus, Mike Singletary, Brian Urlacher — have always been central to the Bears’ success. You can’t even mention the Bears’ sole Super Bowl win, after the 1985 season, without a quick word association of “Bears D.”

The historical lack of offensive success — and absence of true transcendent stars, outside of Walter Payton — has allowed the defense to shine. Not since Jim McMahon has Chicago fielded a quarterback who galvanizes the fan base. Jay Cutler, Rex Grossman, Jim Harbaugh, Erik Kramer and Jim Miller all flashed promise but were never able to sustain it. Until general manager Ryan Pace mortgaged his team’s future by swapping first-round picks with the San Francisco 49ers along with offering two third-rounders and a fourth-rounder to move up and pick Trubisky second overall in the 2017 draft, it felt like the franchise was resigned to the fact that its defensive identity was its only identity.

“In Chicago, you learn real quick how passionate the fans are about defense,” Urlacher said. “That’s how they’ve always won. It’s cold, it’s about to get real cold, and if you don’t have a good defense, you’re probably not going to win. The fans know that, and that’s why they gravitate toward defensive players. So when you get a player like Mack — well, you’re not mortgaging jack crap when you have a guy who is the best at his position in the NFL.”

Mack’s divorce in Oakland was messy. He missed the Raiders’ summer activities and did not report to training camp as he leveraged for a new contract. Mack was by far the Raiders’ most talented player, and it appeared management wouldn’t budge. When Mack was traded to Chicago, Raiders coach Jon Gruden said in an ESPN interview that “obviously Khalil Mack didn’t want to play in Oakland.”

Mack quickly fell into a marriage with Chicago, and the honeymoon phase could not be sweeter. In his first public appearance as a Bear, Mack said it felt great “to be wanted.” Chicago gave up record-breaking money and draft picks to get Mack: The trade included two first-round picks — more than the Bears gave up to trade up and select Trubisky in the draft. It felt quintessential Chicago to ask a defensive player to play savior while the rest of the NFL depended on a quarterback to be that guy.

“Man, I don’t know how Pace pulled it off,” Urlacher said. “I don’t know what he did or if he knows something about Jon Gruden or someone in the Raiders organization or what he’s got. But two first-round picks for Mack? That’s nothing. When you look at the Bears’ first-round picks over the last 10, 15 years, and see how good they’ve turned out. I’m going to go ahead and say they haven’t been very good.”

Bears are back

After four straight losing seasons and eight years out of the playoffs, the Bears are suddenly relevant. All offseason, talk around the Bears surrounded the jump Trubisky would make in Year 2. Though the Mack acquisition was a vote of confidence in Trubisky that Chicago management believes it can win now, the quarterback, who is on pace to set franchise records for passing yards and touchdown passes in a season, now shares the spotlight with a pass-rusher in the prime of his career who recorded 40.5 sacks over the past four years.

Almost immediately after Mack’s acquisition, the Bears began selling T-shirts that read “Midway Mack,” while digital billboards sprouted on Chicago’s highways welcoming him to town. It seems fitting that the other ubiquitous signage in Chicago is billboards of Urlacher endorsing a hair transplant company. Urlacher, a fearsome middle linebacker, was the last face of the franchise, and the city hasn’t truly had a player to rally around like that since he last suited up six seasons ago.

At home games for the past few seasons, it was not uncommon to spot fans wearing more jerseys of former Bears (Butkus, McMahon, Payton, Singletary, Urlacher, Matt Forte and Charles Tillman) than of the current roster. It was as if fans were conveying a message that they want someone new to latch on to. By the Sept. 30 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, there were already plenty of Mack and Trubisky jerseys sprinkled into the mix.

“You’ll realize as an athlete, there’s nothing better than playing in a city like Chicago, and there’s nothing better than winning in Chicago,” said Chicago Blackhawks star winger Patrick Kane. “The city of Chicago gets behind a team, whether it was us when we were winning or especially the Cubs; whenever a team makes even a little bit of a run, it feels like everyone gets behind you. And if the Bears ever won, it probably would be even bigger than all of that, because football is so popular.”

Mack’s Pack attack

Khalil Mack didn’t waste any time making an impact with the Bears; he was responsible for three game-altering plays at the Green Bay Packers in Week 1. That included a 27-yard interception return for a touchdown. Here’s a look at the play and an NFL Next Gen view of the circuitous route he took to the end zone.

All of this attention still feels foreign to Mack, who was technically a zero-star recruit in high school before getting his only scholarship offer — to the University of Buffalo. Mack’s off-field demeanor is distinctly opposite from how he plays. As the accolades poured in — in 2016, he became the first player to be voted AP All-Pro at two positions, defensive end and outside linebacker — Mack shied away from the mainstream endorsement deals or commercials that would make him a crossover celebrity.

He speaks quietly, but he doesn’t speak often. He is frequently seen sporting Miami Heat gear, a nod to growing up in Fort Pierce, Florida. The son of Sandy, who is a program specialist for at-risk youth, and Yolanda, a teacher, Mack is family- and community-oriented. This past summer, Mack joined a business group on a bid that would bring yachts to Fort Pierce for repairs. The project also would bring hundreds of jobs to the area.

Mack came to work immediately in Chicago, which earned the respect of teammates.

“I pride myself in leaving here a little later than most,” Long said. “But I walk by the outside linebacker room and he’s always there.”

Most of Mack’s tutoring here came from Bears outside linebackers coach Brandon Staley. Teammates say coaches kept things simple for Mack initially, then incorporated more week by week.

“Yeah, it looks easy,” cornerback Kyle Fuller said. “But he’s making it look easy.”

Defensive end Jonathan Bullard offered his take.

“I don’t think it’s been hard on him,” Bullard said. “Maybe in coverages and dropping, it’s hard for him, but doing what he does for us — getting to the quarterback — he has no problem. When you’re the best at what you do, pass rushing, either you can do it or you can’t.”

‘He still takes it so seriously’

Urlacher, who said he hasn’t met Mack personally but texted back and forth with the new face of the defense after he was acquired, noted that Mack’s energy is contagious.

“No. 1 is attitude,” Urlacher said. “On every play he can wreck a game. He can wreck a game or wreck your game plan in one play. His ability to get to the quarterback, his ability to get to the run — if you put one guy on him, he’s going to make a play. Sunday [against the Detroit Lions] he ran over two guys and still got the sack. He has this attitude that the whole defense has too: We know we’re better than you. Most importantly, they’re having fun. You watch that defense play and those dudes are having a good time.”

The defense, led by coordinator Vic Fangio, was already good before Mack arrived. It remained dominant in the two games Mack missed (albeit against the hapless New York Jets and Buffalo Bills), allowing a total of 19 points.

Mack even brings energy to practice. When the whistle blows for a defensive period, players used to jog to the ball. Mack sprinted. Now, everybody sprints.

“He loves the game, but he’s not about any funny business,” offensive lineman Charles Leno Jr. said. “When he’s here to work, he’s here to work.”

Lynch agreed.

“He’s the richest man in the NFL, and you’d think maybe he’d coast and still play good,” Lynch said. “But he’s still playing like he’s trying to get another $140 million contract. So that’s what’s cool for me, personally. Seeing how he still takes it so seriously.”

Urlacher sees Mack’s passion.

“Watching him play, he’s got one speed,” Urlacher said. “He goes as hard as he can, and then if he needs a break, they take him out. And then he does it again. I just admire the way he plays and how aggressive he is out there.”

What’s not lost on teammates is why Mack landed in Chicago. He was in a contract dispute with the Raiders because he worked to become one of the most elite players at his position and hadn’t been compensated as such.

“We hope everyone gets what they deserve, and he deserves every penny of what he got,” Long said. “If we were all in that situation, we’d all do the same thing.”

Added Bullard: “He deserves it, he stood for it, and that’s important for us as players. The top guys standing up makes it good for everybody. And when you’re producing the way he is, somebody is going to give you what you think you deserve. I’m glad it’s us.”

After his initial surge, Mack was slowed in a Week 6 loss to the Miami Dolphins. Mack sustained an ankle injury, which quieted him on the field and kept him out of practice the following week. He returned against the Lions in Week 10 and sacked Matthew Stafford twice. Perhaps things will slow down for him as the season goes on — or maybe he’ll just adjust to his new reality as the face of a franchise.

“The advice I would give him is enjoy it, soak it up,” Kane said. “People are great here. They might stop you and say hi in the street, but they’re not going to try to take up 20 minutes of your time; they’ll let you do your thing.”

And Mack’s thing is wreaking havoc on defense, something his new city adores.

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Chicago Bears kicker Cody Parkey to get extra practice at Soldier Field after misses

LAKE FOREST, Ill. — Chicago Bears kicker Cody Parkey will spend part of his Wednesday evening practicing at Soldier Field, where the veteran missed four kicks off the uprights in last Sunday’s victory against the Detroit Lions.

Parkey confirmed to reporters that he will make the 35-mile trek from the team’s suburban practice facility to the downtown stadium in order to “do everything I possibly can to make kicks.”

“I guess just check all the boxes you can, right?” Parkey said. “I mean, it can’t hurt.”

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Chicago Bears spell Prince Amukamara’s name wrong on jersey

CHICAGO — Bears cornerback Prince Amukamara doesn’t think his last name is difficult to spell.

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Minnesota Vikings-Chicago Bears flexed to Sunday night in Week 11

NEW YORK — The NFL has moved the Minnesota Vikings‘ game at the Chicago Bears from Sunday afternoon to prime time on NBC on Nov. 18.

That bumps Steelers at Jaguars to 1 p.m. ET on CBS. Also moving that day is the matchup between the Philadelphia Eagles and New Orleans Saints in New Orleans, now a 4:25 p.m. game on Fox rather than at 1 p.m.

The Bears currently lead the NFC North at 5-3, a half-game in front of Minnesota, which has a bye this week.

It’s the second time this season the league flexed a Sunday game to prime time. Previously it did so to the Cincinnati Bengals‘ game at the Kansas City Chiefs on Oct. 21.

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Chicago Bears place right guard Kyle Long on injured reserve

The Chicago Bears placed right guard Kyle Long on injured reserve the team announced Saturday.

The three-time Pro Bowl lineman has a tendon injury to his right foot.

Long was hurt in the closing minutes of the Bears’ 24-10 victory over the New York Jets on Sunday. Tight end Dion Sims rolled into him while the two were blocking for Jordan Howard on a run.

The injury to Long leaves the NFC North-leading Bears (4-3) in a painful and familiar spot with him as they get ready to visit the Buffalo Bills (2-6). Chicago also could be without star pass-rusher Khalil Mack (right ankle) and No. 1 receiver Allen Robinson (groin) again. The two missed the win over the Jets.

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Chicago Bears might place Kyle Long on injured reserve foot injury

LAKE FOREST, Ill. — Chicago Bears right guard Kyle Long has a tendon injury in his right foot, and the team is deciding whether to put him on injured reserve.

Coach Matt Nagy said Wednesday the three-time Pro Bowl lineman has a boot on his foot and is “week to week.” The Bears are still trying to figure out the “complete extent” of the injury.

Asked if Long has any broken bones, Nagy said, “I’m not going to get into the details of it.” But he added there are “some issues” with a tendon.

The Bears could place Long on IR with the intent to return in eight weeks if they don’t think he could be back sooner.

“Those are decisions we’re going through,” Nagy said. “We’re not there yet. We don’t need to be. Once we get to that point, then we’ll decide what we want to do.”

Long was hurt in the closing minutes of the Bears’ 24-10 victory over the New York Jets on Sunday. Tight end Dion Sims rolled into him while the two were blocking for Jordan Howard on a run.

The injury to Long leaves the NFC North-leading Bears (4-3) in a painful and familiar spot with him as they get ready to visit the Buffalo Bills (2-6). Chicago could also be without star pass rusher Khalil Mack (right ankle) and No. 1 receiver Allen Robinson (groin) again. The two missed the win over the Jets.

The 29-year-old Long made the Pro Bowl his first three seasons after being drafted in the first round in 2013. But he missed eight games in 2016 and six last season after playing in 47 of a possible 48 from 2013 to 2015.

Nagy again said the latest injury was not the same as the severe one to his right ankle in 2016 that required surgery. Long also had operations on his shoulder, elbow and neck after he was shut down last year.

“It’s tough to hear news like that — one of our brothers and other family going down,” quarterback Mitchell Trubisky said. “We’re going to support him all the way and back him up and then it’s next-man-up mentality. We’ve got a lot of depth at the O-line. I feel really comfortable with where we’re at and who’s stepping in there.”

The Bears could move Eric Kush or rookie James Daniels from left guard, where they have shared time. Kush missed the game against the Jets because of a neck injury but is expected to play against Buffalo.

Another option at right guard is Bryan Witzmann. He signed with Chicago three weeks ago and made 13 starts last season for Kansas City while Nagy was the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator.

One scenario that can apparently be ruled out is moving Cody Whitehair from center to guard, a position he has played. Nagy said the Bears haven’t considered that.

“It’s tough to see (Long) go down with the passion that he plays with,” Whitehair said. “We hope for the best for him. I know we’ve got the right guys that will step in for him and give their best.”

With Long out, the line loses not only one of its best blockers, but a team leader.

“He helps me a lot with technique stuff,” Daniels said. “He also (tells me) if there’s a certain look, just be alert for things like that. Both ways, it’s nice to have him around.”

Game notes: Nagy said the Bears will take a similar approach with Mack and Robinson, after both were held out of practice last week on Wednesday and Thursday and limited on Friday.

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Bears WR Allen Robinson likely out vs. Jets; Khalil Mack a late decision

The Chicago Bears do not expect wide receiver Allen Robinson to play against the New York Jets on Sunday, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Robinson has been listed as questionable for the game while he recovers from a groin injury. He missed practice Wednesday and Thursday and was limited Friday.

Robinson, who has caught 25 balls for 285 yards and two touchdowns this season, was also questionable for last week’s defeat to the Patriots, and though he was active for that game he caught only one pass for four yards on five targets.

Meanwhile, Bears linebacker Khalil Mack, also listed as questionable, will work out pregame to determine whether he can play and may be limited if he is active, a source told Schefter.

Mack sprained his ankle in the Bears’ loss to the Dolphins two weeks ago and did not appear 100 percent against New England.

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