Chicago Bears preparing for bitter cold Saturday at Soldier Field

LB Jack Sanborn placed on IR for remainder of season

Workers clear snow from Soldier Field before a game between the Chicago Bears and Cleveland Browns onSunday, Dec. 24, 2017 in Chicago.

LAKE FOREST – Matt Eberflus still is scarred from his last freezing-cold weather game at Soldier Field.

In 2013, he was the linebackers coach with the Dallas Cowboys when they visited Soldier Field in early December. The game-time temperature was 8 degrees, with the wind chill at minus-9.

Bears quarterback Josh McCown threw a career-high four touchdown passes and rushed for another score as the Bears blew past Eberflus’ Cowboys, 45-28, on Dec. 9, 2013. The Bears also retired Mike Ditka’s number at halftime that day.

“It was bitter cold,” Eberflus said Tuesday at Halas Hall. “You had to really make sure all your skin was covered because you would potentially get frost bite and all that, so you had to make sure you used Vaseline on your face to make sure everything’s covered up right. It was cold and the helmets sound weird when they hit.”

A major snow storm is expected to blow through the Chicago area Thursday and Friday, followed by crippling cold over the weekend. The wind chill could be as low as negative 20 or negative 30 over the weekend, according to the National Weather Service.

The Bears take on the Buffalo Bills at noon Saturday at Soldier Field. Most of the Week 16 NFL slate is Saturday because of the Christmas holiday Sunday.

Eberflus said he hasn’t heard any news from the league about potentially moving the game to Sunday. The current forecast indicates that snow should stop falling Friday night or in the early hours Saturday morning.

The Bears, who stay at a hotel in the city the night before home games, are making alternative schedules if they have to leave Lake Forest earlier than scheduled to reach the team hotel.

The Bills, meanwhile, just played a snowy game in Buffalo last Saturday, outlasting the Dolphins with snowflakes falling. They also had a home game earlier this season moved to Detroit when the Buffalo area received several feet of snow.

Bears quarterback Justin Fields isn’t worried about the cold alone. He said he’s more effected by the wind.

“Once the wind starts going, that’s when it gets cold,” Fields said Tuesday. “Like, 20 degrees, no wind, I mean, you’re fine out there. But the wind, of course, makes it cold.”

Sanborn to IR: The Bears placed rookie linebacker Jack Sanborn on injured reserve Tuesday with an ankle injury.

Sanborn hurt his ankle in Sunday’s game against the Eagles. Going to IR now means Sanborn will be out for the remainder of the season. It does not, however, sound like a serious injury. Eberflus said if this happened earlier in the season, Sanborn would likely have returned at some point.

It’s a tough way to end the season for the Lake Zurich native, who had 64 combined tackles, two sacks, five tackles for loss and a fumble recovery this season. Sanborn, an undrafted rookie from Wisconsin, started six games after the team traded linebacker Roquan Smith.

“Just his maturity,” Eberflus said when asked what impressed him about Sanborn this season. “His ability to handle that space. Coming in there, we had some injuries and whatnot, and being able to function, and then the production. He had a lot of tackling production. His instincts we saw, and we saw that during training camp, so we were excited about that. He’s an impactful player, and we’re excited to have him.”

Jenkins returns to Halas Hall: Right guard Teven Jenkins has returned to Halas Hall after a scary neck injury Sunday. Jenkins was carted off the field and visited the hospital.

Eberflus did not have any further details, but noted that Jenkins is day-to-day and could potentially return to practice this week. Given how serious the injury looked at the time, that is positive news.

Transactions: With Sanborn going down, the Bears signed linebacker Elijah Lee to the active roster off the Kansas City Chiefs’ practice squad Tuesday. Lee will be playing for his sixth team since entering the league as a seventh-round draft pick in 2017.

The Bears also signed linebacker Kuony Deng and defensive back Terrell Lewis to the practice squad.

Additionally, the Bears designated running back Khalil Herbert for return from injured reserve. As expected, Herbert will return to practice this week.

Sean Hammond

Sean Hammond

Sean is the Chicago Bears beat reporter for the Shaw Local News Network. He has covered the Bears since 2020. Prior to writing about the Bears, he covered high school sports for the Northwest Herald and contributed to Friday Night Drive. Sean joined Shaw Media in 2016.