The Chicago Bears started their week of practice Wednesday at Halas Hall as they get ready for Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field.
Here are three things we learned from Bears coach Matt Nagy and his players.
1. Justin Fields is excited to see Aaron Rodgers play against the Bears defense but isn’t measuring himself against the Packers quarterback.
Fields said he still is recovering from “discomfort all around,” including in his left knee, after taking some big hits Sunday against the Las Vegas Raiders. But he practiced in full Wednesday and said he should be good for his first Packers game.
Fields was 6 years old when the Packers drafted Rodgers in the first round in 2005, so he has been watching Rodgers play for a long time.
“I just like how he’s always in rhythm when he plays the game,” Fields said. “That’s a piece of his game that I try to emulate in mine.”
But Fields isn’t interested in seeing how he stacks up against Rodgers on Sunday in any category except the win column, saying, “My job isn’t to be better than any quarterback.”
Rodgers is on a different level than the quarterbacks Fields has played against in his past, but the rookie understands something about avoiding comparisons from his two College Football Playoff games at Ohio State against former Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
“To be honest, I don’t look at it as a matchup between me and Aaron, like I didn’t look at it as a matchup back then between me and Trevor,” Fields said. “I’m simply doing whatever I need to do to help my team win. If that’s hand the ball off 80 times during a game or throw for however many yards, that’s what I’m going to do. I’m not worried about comparisons between touchdowns, stats. I’m worried about winning. That’s it.”
Fields also is preparing for his first taste of the Bears-Packers rivalry, though he has an idea of the hype around such a game after playing in Ohio State-Michigan games.
“I wouldn’t say it totally prepares me for this, but I have a pretty good idea of what a big rivalry game looks like,” Fields said.
Nagy said he thinks Fields will stay steady during the buildup to the game.
“I haven’t noticed an ounce of change in him in the last couple of days,” Nagy said. “I don’t ever think that is going to change. That’s a huge strength of his. When you have a loss like we had versus Cleveland or you have a win like we just had against the Raiders, you can’t tell a difference. That’s a pretty good deal there.”
2. The Bears need Elijah Wilkinson to step up in place of right tackle Germain Ifedi.
The Bears placed Ifedi on injured reserve Wednesday with what is believed to be an MCL sprain in his left knee, a source told the Tribune’s Brad Biggs, and he must miss at least three games. Ifedi was injured on the Bears’ second touchdown drive in the second quarter against the Raiders, and Nagy said Wilkinson played well during 35 snaps in relief.
Wilkinson, whom the Bears signed to a one-year contract in March, also filled in at left tackle in the opener when Jason Peters and Larry Borom were hurt.
“There’s a lot of evidence of him on tape doing some really good things, in particular in the run game and then a couple times in the pass game,” Nagy said. “He’s been great this whole time, this whole process when he first got here to where he’s at right now to understanding the depth that he helped us with. … That’s the good part of having depth.”
Nagy also announced outside linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu is out for the season with a torn pectoral muscle that will need surgery.
Wide receiver Allen Robinson missed practice Wednesday because of an ankle injury. Defensive lineman Akiem Hicks (groin), outside linebacker Khalil Mack (foot), tight ends J.P. Holtz (quadriceps) and Jimmy Graham (rest day) and inside linebacker Caleb Johnson (knee) also sat out. Running back Damien Williams (knee/foot), wide receiver Darnell Mooney (groin) and inside linebacker Christian Jones (back) were limited.
The Bears signed running back Ryan Nall and linebacker Sam Kamara to the active roster from the practice squad and added linebackers Ledarius Mack and Rashad Smith and offensive lineman Dareuan Parker to the practice squad.
3. Cairo Santos is trying to ‘copy and paste’ his routine from week to week as he continues his NFL-best active made field goals streak.
With two 46-yard field goals in the final three minutes Sunday, the Bears kicker extended his made field goals streak to 34. He hasn’t missed since Sept. 27, 2020.
Santos has gone on a long streak before, making 26 straight while kicking at Tulane, four short of the NCAA record at the time.
“I’ve always thought that starting a streak is harder than keeping one because to start a streak you just came off a miss, and getting yourself together to start that again is the hardest part,” Santos said. “Right now, I’m just going through the motions, just copy and pasting what I’ve done the last several weeks to my routine and preparation week to week and not thinking about the results, and the results are just coming. So it’s fun to watch that.”
Santos’ college streak in 2013 is tied up in painful memories. It ended on a blocked field goal against Syracuse the same week he attended the funeral of his father, Cairo Santos Sr., who died in a stunt plane crash.
“I flew to Brazil for the funeral, and the team said you can stay there as long as you want or come back,” Santos said. “And I definitely wanted to come back, and then that game, I made a kick and then got the streak blocked there. So that was kind of a double whammy on that week.
“But I started to hit a bunch of game-winners after that, so I got another streak going and it ended up being OK. So whenever this thing ends, I’m still going to try to start a new one.”