Bears

Broncos coach Vic Fangio doesn't sound optimistic about cornerback Bryce Callahan's foot injury

Broncos coach Vic Fangio doesn't sound optimistic about cornerback Bryce Callahan's foot injury

Ex-Bears cornerback Bryce Callahan’s status for Sunday afternoon's game in Denver is seemingly in question, as Callahan continues to deal with a foot injury that kept him out of Week 1’s loss. 

“It’s a concern,” Fangio said while talking to Broncos’ media. “He didn’t have a setback this week. He’s just not ready yet.”

Callahan signed a three-year, $21 million contract this offseason, following Fangio to the Broncos after spending the previous four seasons in Chicago. While he’s been considered one of the premier nickel cornerbacks in football when he plays, injuries have plagued the early stages of his career. He’s yet to play in all 16 games of a season, though he did see action in a career-best 13 games last season before he was put on IR with a broken foot. 

While he was listed as questionable in Week 1, reports out of Denver suggest that GM John Elway is actively looking for cornerback help – something that doesn’t bode well for Callahan’s chances. 

In other injury news, Broncos’ right tackle Ja'Wuan James will most likely miss Sunday’s game as well: 

Here’s the play where James apparently hurt himself: 

Wednesday is the first day that NFL teams are required to issue injury reports, so we'll know more about Callahan's status later today.

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Bears still waiting on kickoff season to come for Cordarrelle Patterson

Bears still waiting on kickoff season to come for Cordarrelle Patterson

There were 312 kickoffs in the NFL this season heading into this weekend. Of those, 221 (70 percent) went for touchbacks. 

After Sunday's games, three teams — including the Bears — have yet to have a kickoff return. Half the league hasn't had a return go more than 25 yards. 

This is the NFL in 2019, with the league’s efforts to reduce the number of kick returns — for safety reasons — proving effective. It’s also meant the Bears haven’t been able to fully utilize Cordarrelle Patterson’s talents yet.

The 5,276 return yards Patterson has since entering the league in 2013 are by far the most in the NFL in that span (he’s about 1,500 yards ahead of Andre Roberts, who has the second-highest total). Patterson is the only player with more than two kick return touchdowns since 2013; he has six. Among players with at least 50 kick returns, Patterson’s average of 29.98 yards per return ranks No. 1, and he’s one of just 14 players to average more than 25 yards per return.

So Bears special teams coordinator Chris Tabor is itching to unleash Patterson on a return — as long as the opportunity presents itself.

“I want to bring the ball out, I really do,” Tabor said. “And there's going to come a time and point that we want to do that. You want to be able to put pressure on that coverage team. But I think you still have to be smart about when you're doing it.”

Patterson’s last kick return touchdown came last year while with the New England Patriots against the Bears, so this coaching staff has a good idea of how dangerous he can be on kickoffs. So do other teams, though — all four of Brandon McManus’ kickoffs last week went for deep touchbacks in the thin air of Denver, while all three of Mason Crosby’s kickoffs in Week 1 were deemed unreturnable and went for touchbacks.

"These kickers are getting paid a lot of money to try to kick the ball away from me," Patterson said. "And that's what they're doing. It's football. You can't always have everything you want."

The Bears don’t want to see Patterson return a kick so badly that they’d have him take one out from the back of the end zone, though. A drive starting on the 25-yard line from a touchback is more likely to be successful than a drive starting inside the 23-yard line, Tabor said. Still, the Tabor said the team is comfortable with Patterson attempting a return from eight or even close to nine yards deep in the end zone. 

With the Bears’ offense struggling — 13 of their 22 drives have ended with a punt — the team hopes it can get a spark from the return game to at least generate good field position.

“A lot of factors that go into that but if you don't bring it out you have zero chance of getting the ball past the 25,” Tabor said. “I think realistically for offenses, all offenses, 75-yard drives in the NFL just don't happen repeatedly so I think you have to try to get something sparked in the return game.”

But as long as temperatures remain warm — the forecasted temperature is in the upper 70’s for kickoff Monday night in Landover — it’ll be easier for kickers to blast touchbacks out of the end zone. And few, if any, of the league’s coaches and special teams coordinators will want to try to kick to Patterson.

So until weather conditions become a little more favorable for kickoff returns, there not anything Tabor can do to generate them.

“I wish I could,” Tabor said. “(Maybe) send the coach a nice bottle of wine or something.”

Bears vs. Redskins: 4 reasons why Chicago will win Monday night

Bears vs. Redskins: 4 reasons why Chicago will win Monday night

The Bears return to primetime Monday night against the Washington Redskins in a game that the fanbase is expecting to win...and win big.

The first two weeks of the 2019 season have portrayed the Redskins as one of the NFL's worst teams, while the Bears have maintained their standing as a playoff-worthy club despite their struggles on offense.

Matt Nagy remains confident in his system and optimistic about his quarterback, however, and the Redskins defense has been earmarked as the get-right game for Mitch Trubisky.

Here are four reasons why Bears fans should feel confident heading into Monday night.

1. Mitch Trubisky has his breakout game

This is the week for Trubisky to have his arrival game in 2019. It has to be. The Redskins defense ranks seventh-worst against the pass; they've given up 287 passing yards per game over the first two weeks. This statistic may be a bit inflated considering Washington faced Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott to start the year and Trubisky hasn't proven himself to be in that tier of quarterback just yet. But he should have his best game of the season with all of his critics watching (and waiting to strike).

If the Bears want to be considered legitimate contenders this year, they have to defeat teams like the Redskins in convincing fashion. In order to do so, it starts with Trubisky, who after facing stiff competition against the Packers and Broncos, will return to the playmaking form that created so much optimism about his future in 2018.

2.  Bears defense will force Washington to be one-dimensional

Despite the incredible statistical start to 2019 that Case Keenum is enjoying, he isn't the kind of quarterback who can win games on his own. The first two weeks of the season are proof of that. He's thrown for more than 600 yards, five touchdowns and zero interceptions and has a passer rating over 111. Yet Washington is 0-2. 

The Redskins offense isn't balanced, and the injury to RB Derrius Guice, who will miss the game Monday night, has made them even more one-dimensional. Sure, Adrian Peterson is one of the greatest to ever play the game, but he's an 'old' Peterson now and is hardly the kind of runner who the Bears need to fear. Chicago should have little trouble shutting him down early in the game. And that's when Khalil Mack will pin his ears back and get after Keenum, who according to Pro Football Focus, hasn't been much better than Trubisky this year.

Keenum has a 56.5 season grade, compared to Trubisky's 48.9. Keenum's 3.33% turnover-worthy throws is actually worse than Trubisky, who's at 2.3% after two games.

If the Bears can force Keenum to throw, the game won't be particularly close.

3.  David Montgomery will ground and pound in the second half

Montgomery had a solid game in Week 2's win against the Broncos when he rumbled for 62 yards on 18 carries and scored his first NFL touchdown. His usage rate was promising and should only go up once the Bears get into a situation where they're protecting a lead. That should be the case Monday night.

The Redskins have the third-worst run defense after two games and are allowing an average of 168 yards rushing to opposing offenses. The Bears run-pass rate has been tilted toward Trubisky's right arm -- Chicago is passing 66% of the time, per PFF -- but that'll change in Week 3.

If the Bears get ahead by two scores, Matt Nagy should (and will) feed Montgomery the ball. Expect the early part of the game to provide Trubisky with an opportunity to build some confidence, and when he does, it'll be up to Montgomery to protect the lead. A 100-yard game is well within his reach.

4.  Special teams does its part...again

Eddy Pineiro proved in Week 2 that he's not just a talented young kicker; he's clutch, too. And while he tweaked his knee in the Bears' weight room this week, he should be good to go against the Redskins.

But it's not only Pineiro who's been getting the job done on special teams for Chicago.

Punter Pat O'Donnell is the fifth-highest graded player at his position entering Week 3 and has done a reliable job keeping the Bears defense in favorable field position. That matters, especially in games Chicago is supposed to win. A special teams blunder could be the difference between winning and losing, particularly on the road in prime time. 

O'Donnell and Pineiro have proven through two games they can be relied on. They'll continue that trend on Monday night.

As for the final score? Check out our prediction here.