The Chicago Bears resumed practice Wednesday as they prepare for Sunday’s game at the Cleveland Browns.
Along with defensive end Yannick Ngakoue going on injured reserve, here are three things we heard from coach Matt Eberflus and his players.
1. Bears quarterback Justin Fields said he talks to officials about looking out for late hits before every game.
Late hits on Fields have been a topic of conversation throughout his three seasons in the NFL, and it came up again in Week 14 after Detroit Lions linebacker Jack Campbell hit Fields late after the quarterback slid down following a 1-yard run Sunday.
It happened on the first play of the game, despite Fields talking to officials about it so they would keep an eye out for his safety, he said.
“Especially when we play the Lions, I know how they play, I know what kind of team they are,” Fields said. “So I know that they’re going to play hard and play until the end of the play. I always tell them (the officials) that I’m not trying to take any hits. I get down pretty fast. Just look out for me if they see any late hits. I’m going to try to get down. I’m not going to try to do anything sneaky like any fake slides or whatever.”
Eberflus said Monday he tries to be active with the refs in addressing the topic and added he would send in a couple of plays to the league for review. Safety Jaquan Brisker followed by making comments that other teams are “being told to do dirty stuff” to Fields.
Fields said Wednesday: “I don’t know what other teams are saying or what other coaches are saying to their teams.”
Fields usually doesn’t have time to speak with officials following a play to see why he didn’t get a call, he said, so he just moves on to the next play.
“It’s just kind of frustrating, but not really astonishing because it happens a lot,” Fields said.
2. Bears kicker Cairo Santos said the NFL holding a game in Brazil is “a dream come true.”
The NFL announced Wednesday that it will hold its first game in South America in 2024 at Corinthians Arena in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The league hasn’t announced which teams will play, but Bears kicker Cairo Santos hopes he can be there.
Santos, who is the first Brazilian-born player to appear in an NFL game, said he talked to a lot of excited people at home Wednesday.
“Everyone is kind of hoping the same as I am, that it’s the Bears next year playing there,” said Santos, who could be in consideration for a contract extension to stay with the Bears this offseason. “If not, I’m going to find a way to be there. I’ll have to talk to Coach ‘Flus to give me a day off or something. I have to be there and just make it happen because it’s a day history is being made for sure.”
The Bears have not played an international game since 2019 in London. They have international marketing rights under the NFL’s Global Markets Program in Spain, which is under consideration to host a 2025 international game. The Miami Dolphins are the only team with international marketing rights in Brazil.
The NFL will hold three games in London and another in Germany in 2024.
The NFL said Brazil is home to its second-largest international fan base behind Mexico. Santos, who started playing American football as a high school exchange student in Florida and then played at Tulane, has seen “tremendous growth” in that interest over his 10 years in the league.
Santos said he gets recognized in Brazil more than in the U.S. and has made appearances at malls there that have drawn hundreds of fans. He also receives messages from fans saying they are rooting for popular teams in Brazil — the Green Bay Packers, San Francisco 49ers, New England Patriots or Dallas Cowboys to name a few — but also for Santos to make all of his kicks.
“It’s not (originally) part of our culture,” Santos said. “It’s a complete different type of sport. It’s played more with hands than feet. But it is something that Brazilians have become fanatic about, and I’m so proud that (their) dream is coming true.”
Santos thinks the NFL, which is gearing up to host as many as eight international games in 2025, will be drawn to the Brazilian fan base.
“Their passion for the sport — to have a Brazilian and now to have a game in Brazil — it’s something I think the NFL is going to fall in love with,” Santos said.
3. Bears wide receiver DJ Moore missed practice with an ankle injury.
Moore tweaked his ankle against the Lions but played through it. He was present at practice but didn’t participate. Wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown, who is week-to-week with a pectoral injury, also was out. Linebacker Dylan Cole missed the practice for personal reasons. Safety Jaquan Brisker (groin) was limited.
The Browns, meanwhile, had 11 players who didn’t practice: Defensive ends Myles Garrett (rest/shoulder) and Ogbo Okoronkwo (pectoral), defensive tackle Jordan Elliott (concussion), wide receiver Amari Cooper (rest/ribs), running back Kareem Hunt (groin), tight end David Njoku (rest/knee), linebacker Anthony Walker (rest/knee), offensive linemen Joel Bitonio (rest/knee) and Ethan Pocic (stinger), safety Juan Thornhill (calf) and kicker Dustin Hopkins (personal).