LAKE FOREST – For the first time in weeks, the Bears’ offense might actually resemble the offense it was supposed to be.
The Bears have some major reinforcements on the way ahead of Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field in Detroit. Guards Cody Whitehair (knee) and Teven Jenkins (neck) both enter the weekend holding no injury designations. They are expected to take over their starting roles at left and right guard, respectively.
Receiver Equanimeous St. Brown (concussion) holds no injury designation and seems likely to return. Receiver Chase Claypool (knee) is questionable but practiced twice this week in a limited capacity.
All of that should be music to quarterback Justin Fields’ ears. It certainly is for head coach Matt Eberflus.
“That’s good to be back to full strength, for sure, relative to who we have right now,” Eberflus said Friday at Halas Hall. “But it’s good. Guys look quick, look fast [in practice]. We’re excited about executing on a fast surface, which is cool, and we’re excited about that.”
The Bears practiced indoors Friday in order to get used to artificial turf, the same playing surface they will be dealing with at Ford Field. It will be a much-needed respite from the weather for a Bears team that has gotten used to the cold in the past few weeks.
Claypool’s return is not certain but would be a huge boost for the passing game. He left a Dec. 4 contest against Green Bay after injuring his knee on an awkward tackle. He hasn’t played since.
The Bears traded a second-round pick to Pittsburgh in exchange for Claypool at the November trade deadline. Since joining the Bears, Claypool has caught 12 passes for 111 yards in five games.
“I’m going to do everything I can to play,” Claypool said this week. “So my expectation for myself is to play, but I also have got to be smart. I’ve just got to make sure that, even though I really want to play, I’ve just got to make the right decision.”
St. Brown, who suffered a concussion Dec. 18 against Philadelphia, declined an interview request Friday because he’s still technically in the concussion protocol. He does not, however, hold an injury designation for the game. That seems to indicate he will be good to go on Sunday.
His addition would be a more subtle boost for the offense. St. Brown has caught 18 passes for 300 yards and one touchdown, but his contribution is more than just catching passes.
“He provides leadership,” Eberflus said. “He does a really good job with the other players. He can play multiple positions, he’s a big target. You know, the play that he got hurt on was a big third down strike to start that game. So, he’s done a great job all year in terms of his leadership.”
Injury report: In addition to the players mentioned above, guard Ja’Tyre Carter is out with a back injury, and linebacker Sterling Weatherford is out with an illness.
Receiver Dante Pettis (ankle) and tight end Trevon Wesco (calf) are questionable for Sunday’s game. Pettis injured an ankle in practice this week.