The high temperature in Green Bay on Sunday is going to be 18 degrees. That won’t come until 2-3 p.m., though – when the Bears and Packers kick off two hours earlier, temperatures will be floating in the low teens. Of course, considering windchill, that feels more like five or six. It took 15 weeks and a 200 mile drive north, but the 2019 season is finally getting some Bear Weather.
“You’re talking about two teams here in Chicago and Green Bay that are kind of used to it,” Matt Nagy said on Wednesday. “I would say [the weather is an issue] probably more so if you’re dealing with teams from the West Coast, or more from the warmer weather coming into this.”
It’s shaping up to be the type of game where 1000 photos of the linemen’s breath scatter the internet, and someone will *absolutely* use the phrase black-and-blue, or bare-knuckle-brawl to describe the matchup. It wouldn’t be Bears-Packers canon without a frostbite warning, but as fun as it is to show up to the frozen tundras dangerously underdressed and maybe overserved, the cold may end up being the Bears’ biggest adversary not wearing #12.
“What I’ll say is this – I’ve heard from older family members that when it’s cold outside, you feel a little something when you’ve had an injury in the past,” Akiem Hicks said. “But hopefully I don’t have to feel anything like that. Pray for me”
Hicks is one of two defensive starters that should return to action on Sunday, frost forgiving. Cornerback Prince Amukamara, who missed last Thursday’s game with a hamstring injury, was a full participant in practice all week, and will be out there with the starting 11 again this weekend.
“It’s big because with some of the things they do schematically, the wide receivers they have, Prince brings a lot of experience,” Nagy said. “So having that experience out there against such a quality quarterback in Aaron, that’s huge.”
Another issue? The kicking game. While he’s quietly kicked well over the Bears’ three-game win streak, Eddy Pineiro has been open about how he’s still learning how to adjust to kicking in cold weather. He’s struggled at times with how the ball comes off his foot differently when the temperatures dip, and he’s worked – primarily outside – with special teams coordinator Chris Tabor to get a better feel for the environment.
“We really don't talk about it to be honest with you,” Tabor said. “To be honest, the weather is the weather. We have zero control over it. Obviously, it won't travel as far but he just has to go up and hit his football. I mean we went outside and kicked yesterday, that was an awful cold day and he did just fine. So that was good."
A third issue? (Don’t you feel great at this point?) There have apparently been concerns this season about Lambeau’s turf, which historically has been considered one of the best. Add a bad field to frigid conditions, and all of a sudden that 10-3 result from Week 1 doesn’t seem so far-fetched anymore.
“It affects every position. I mean, we’ve looked at the tape, there’s guys in previous games on that field where there’s long snappers that are slipping,” said Nagy, who then credited Bears’ equipment manager Tony Medlin for having a full plan in place for if players start slipping and sliding.
“... our guys will be prepared, but obviously the skill positions – the guys that are breaking and cutting, running deep--DBs, wide receivers – is probably where you see it the most. Sometimes, you can see it with edge rushers as they go to cut the corner, you can see some slipping and falling. So we want to be smart.”
The Bears released their final injury report Friday leading up to Sunday’s matchup against the Packers.
Cornerback Prince Amukamara looks set to return from a hamstring injury that kept him out Week 14 against the Cowboys. The 30-year-old suffered the injury on Thanksgiving against the Lions. Cordarrelle Patterson practiced in full after being limited Thursday with a head injury.
Players on injured reserve aren't listed on the report, but things are looking up for defensive lineman Akiem Hicks. Bears head coach Matt Nagy said "We like what we're seeing from him" Friday.
Hicks must be activated off IR by 3 p.m. Saturday to play against the Packers.
Offensive lineman Bobby Massie (ankle), linebacker Danny Trevathan (elbow), tight end Ben Braunecker and wide receiver Taylor Gabriel (concussions) are all out Sunday. Defensive lineman Roy Robertson-Harris (foot) and Javon Wims (knee) are questionable.