Bears

Bears safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to begin training camp on physically unable to perform list

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USA TODAY

Bears safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to begin training camp on physically unable to perform list

New Bears defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano won’t have his new starting safety tandem in place to start training camp.

General manager Ryan Pace announced Sunday that Ha Ha Clinton-Dix will be one of three players who will be placed on the physically unable to perform list when the team reports to Bourbonnais, Illinois later this week.

Joining the safety on the sideline is a pair of other offseason acquisitions; outside linebacker Jonathan Harris and offensive tackle T.J. Clemmings will also start on the PUP list.

Pace didn’t seem overly concerned with Clinton-Dix’s knee sprain, which he considered minor, but it’s been more than a month since the injury occurred.

The veteran safety hasn’t missed a game in his NFL career, and he’s played more than 1,000 snaps in every season, so durability isn’t a long-term concern. But he’s one of the few new pieces in the Bears defense looking to avoid regression, and Pagano will need to work out the kinks of pairing Clinton-Dix with a similar style of player in Eddie Jackson. 

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Arena League Revenge and Great Boxing: How the Bears are getting ready for their rematch

Arena League Revenge and Great Boxing: How the Bears are getting ready for their rematch

What a difference 24 hours makes. 

Here’s Mitch Trubisky, from his weekly Wednesday press conference, talking about the Bears-Packers rivalry. 

“I mean, the rivalry is important for sure,” he said. “The rivalry is very important. But I just feel like where we're at as a team, we're just hungry, that whoever is on our schedule next, we're going to come ready to play where we're playing with confidence. We don't really care who shows up next. The rivalry game is important, but I just sense overall a hungry team that's pretty focused, and hopefully that just drives us to get better throughout the week and come ready to play on Sunday.” 

How diplomatic! Despite this Sunday’s game in Green Bay being the 200th meeting between two of the NFL’s original franchises, there’s been a surprisingly large amount of water thrown on the whole notion of rivalry games around Halas Hall this week. That is, until Thursday. When Nagy was asked about Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, who’s returning to Green Bay for the first time since being traded last year, the coach wasted no time showing that time doesn’t necessarily heal all wounds. 

“I mean, on a much smaller spectrum, I've been traded away as a player,” Nagy said. “And I know what that feels like when you play them again. To each their own. I'm sure he'll be fired up. But it's a personal deal with him. I know he'll be focused there to help his defense out.” 

Nagy, of course, is talking about the earth-shattering Arena Football League trade that sent him from the Georgia Force to the Columbus Destroyers in 2007. Nagy got his shot at revenge in the playoffs, when he took the 6-seed Destroyers (7-9) into the Arena at Gwinnett Center and beat the 2-seed Force (14-2), 66-56. Nagy was 23-of-34 for 209 yards and five touchdowns. 

“We played them in the NFC championship game of the Arena League, and we dominated them!” he said. “I'll never forget that game.” 

The Bears now seem happy to embrace the revenge narrative, among a half dozen other motivational colloquialisms they’ve adopted during this three-game win streak. On offense, they’re trying to avoid watching too much of Week 1’s loss, and schematically speaking that’s probably not a bad idea. On defense, they’re watching hand-to-hand combat. It's probably a little on the nose, but when is football not? 

“We like showing boxing stuff,” defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano said. “You ever watch the Gatti-Ward fight, Round 9?”

Ring Magazine named the bout Fight of the Year in 2003, and Hall of Famer Manny Steward called that ninth round the “Round of the Century.” Micky Ward was a former prodigy who never quite fulfilled his potential, but he managed to find his way back into boxing after a hiatus spent paving roads and upset the heavily favored Arturo Gatti. Though he won by majority decision in 10 rounds, knocking Gotti down in the ninth is widely considered Ward’s crowning achievement – so much so that they got Mark Walhberg to play him in a movie.

It’s not a perfect analogy, but the Bears don’t need complete accuracy to find the motivation behind an underdog landing a late-round, knock-down blow. 

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Experts Picks: Ominous outlook for Bears in Week 15 vs. Packers

Experts Picks: Ominous outlook for Bears in Week 15 vs. Packers

Prior to the Bears' current three-game winning streak, the best-case scenario fans could've hoped for was meaningful December football.

Wish granted.

Entering Week 15's game against the Packers, Chicago is 7-6 and still alive in the NFC playoff race. Those playoff chances need some help via losses from the Vikings and Rams over the final three weeks of the regular season, but the Bears need to win-out before they can start watching the scoreboard. And if this week's collection of experts picks is any indication, scoreboard watching might never happen.

According to NFL Pick Watch, 93% of experts polled think the Packers are going to snag their 11th win of the season and send the Bears home for good on Sunday. It also means Green Bay would sweep the 2019 season series, giving its fanbase undeniable bragging rights and sending Bears fans hurdling into a brutal offseason.

Dating back to the 2016 season, Chicago has lost six of the last seven meetings against the Packers.

The Bears lost Week 1's matchup against Green Bay, 10-3, in a game that featured an undefined offense and a quarterback who didn't quite look like he belonged. Things have certainly changed over the last three weeks (all Bears wins), with Mitchell Trubisky being the obvious storyline.

Trubisky is riding a hot streak into Sunday's game and is fresh off his four-touchdown game (three passing, one rushing) against an above-average Cowboys defense.

Can he keep that momentum going in a do-or-die game against Chicago's most-hated rival? 

The experts certainly don't think so.

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