The Chicago Bears coordinators spoke with reporters Thursday morning before practice as they prepare for the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday at Soldier Field.
Here are three things we heard.
1. It could be a battle of rookie quarterbacks Sunday.
Multiple reports stated Thursday that Raiders quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo will not play because of a back injury he suffered in the Week 6 win over the New England Patriots.
The Raiders could turn to either veteran Brian Hoyer or rookie Aidan O’Connell. Hoyer, who has been in the league since 2009 and started five games for the Bears in 2016, filled in for Garoppolo against the Patriots. O’Connell, the Stevenson and Purdue product who was a 2023 fourth-round pick, started in an Oct. 1 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers when Garoppolo was out.
“We’re just studying both quarterbacks, studying their tendencies, whether they like to go downfield or like to throw the ball short,” safety Jaquan Brisker said. “We know they’re probably going to start off by trying to get the ball out, trying to get rhythm throws and things like that. … Regardless we’ll be prepared for whoever starts at quarterback.”
The Bears, meanwhile, are preparing to start undrafted rookie quarterback Tyson Bagent on Sunday as starter Justin Fields sat out his second straight practice with a right thumb injury.
Offensive coordinator Luke Getsy said Bagent has done a good job of communicating with the Bears this week about what he understands and doesn’t as they craft their game plan. And he praised the work Bagent did up to this week to be ready for the opportunity.
“Tyson’s done a really nice job since the time he got here diving into learning the scheme, getting to know the players, the chemistry part of it,” Getsy said. “He works hard every single day after practice, spends time grabbing guys and making sure anything that they need, he’s there to help.”
2. Right tackle Darnell Wright sat out practice with a shoulder injury.
Wright was limited in practice Wednesday but then sat out Thursday. It’s a major development to watch given the Bears’ ongoing injury issues on the offensive line.
They already will be without left tackle Braxton Jones, who remains on injured reserve with a neck injury. And right guard Nate Davis is out this week with an ankle injury. Larry Borom is filling in for Jones, but it’s unclear who would take over if Wright is out. Frequent shuffling on the line has messed with its chemistry, which Getsy said is “critical.”
“Any time you have that turnover you have to deal with it,” Getsy said. “That’s our league, right?. People get hurt. Seventeen games is a long season. There’s nothing you can really do about it. But chemistry is extremely important. I think about some of the years that were the best I’ve ever been around, it’s usually when you have health up front.”
Along with Fields, Wright and Davis, safety Eddie Jackson (foot), cornerback Terell Smith (mononucleosis), running back Roschon Johnson (concussion), offensive lineman Dan Feeney (knee) and tight end Marcedes Lewis (rest) sat out practice.
3. Rasheem Green continues to be a force for the Bears special teams unit.
When Green got his hand on Greg Joseph’s extra-point kick just before halftime of Sunday’s game at Soldier Field, Richard Hightower was the least surprised person in the stadium. Hightower has appreciated Green’s skill set since well before the veteran defensive lineman signed a one-year deal with the Bears in April. And he has seen firsthand over the last six months how hard Green works at his craft.
Plus, Green has an established track record of swatting kicks. He blocked three kicks during his first five seasons in the league and has added two more for the Bears this season, rejecting Joseph’s PAT try Sunday four weeks after he blocked a 40-yard field-goal attempt by Buccaneers kicker Chase McLaughlin in Tampa, Fla.
“‘Sheem has done a phenomenal job, an outstanding job,” Hightower said. “He’s special in that phase.”
Hightower was quick to credit the efforts of Dylan Cole, Gervon Dexter, Dominique Robinson, Justin Jones and Brisker for helping create that opportunity for Green.
“It’s a part of our game we want to continue to grow,” Hightower said.
Still, Hightower commended Green’s attention to detail for making him a weapon for the Bears in that phase.
“He studies the game. He knows the guys he’s going against,” Hightower said. “He’s a really great teammate. Everybody loves him. It’s like anything else. When have got a special returner back there or you have a guy who is really good at something (else), then the other guys pick up their level of play because, hey, this could help us win.”