Bears News: Eberflus provides evaluation of younger players on roster
Kay Biggerstaff - USA Today Sports

Bears News: Eberflus provides evaluation of younger players on roster

by - Correspondent -

CHICAGO - Earlier in the season, the Bears lost 19-13 against the Vikings in a game they realistically should have won. Now in the rematch, both teams will look a bit different.

Tyson Bagent finished the game at quarterback last time for Chicago, while Kirk Cousins was under center for Minnesota. This time, Justin Fields will hope to play the whole game for the Bears while the Vikings are led by Joshua Dobbs. In addition, there is a chance for receiver Justin Jefferson to get activated off of injured reserve (IR) and play in this game Monday night (7:15 p.m./ABC and ESPN).

The Bears still go into this game a bit banged up.

Offensive lineman Larry Borom is out with illness. Running back D’Onta Foreman, who was limited throughout the week, is out with an ankle/shin injury. Rookie cornerback Tyrique Stevenson is also out with an ankle injury. Stevenson had the best game of his rookie career last week with his first career interception as well as his first forced fumble.

Replacing Stevenson will be fellow rookie Terell Smith, who the Bears drafted in the fifth round out of Minnesota. Smith missed a number of weeks due to injury but was able to make his return against the Detroit Lions last week. He has defended two passes this season and has one forced fumble, as well as a fumble recovery.

Head coach Matt Eberflus says Smith has been playing well all the way back to training camp and feels confident about having him step in for Stevenson.

“Terrell has looked good all the way back into training camp, and he’s mature beyond his years. He takes things in stride. He takes coaching really well. So, Coach Hokes, a really good corners coach for a long time, and he’s done that for a while, and (Smith) really soaks everything in,” Eberflus said. “So, he’s technique sound, fundamentally sound and he’s got really good speed. We like his size, being able to play against bigger receivers.”

Overall, the rookie class has been very important for Chicago. Stevenson has started every game this season while Smith has started two games. Receiver Tyler Scott had his first start against the Carolina Panthers but has played in every game for the Bears so far.

Eberflus says while the rookie class as a whole has experienced a number of ups and downs, the important thing for them is to work with their coaches to learn about what they need to improve on and to drown out the outside noise.

“I always tell guys that you have to step back after the performance and look at it with your coach with a clear eye and really look to improve on that and that’s what you have to do as a rookie because there’s a lot of things that can come at you if you pay attention to too many things and what’s important is what’s on the tape and what you are and your coach are saying about the technique and the fundamentals, and that’s really where you leave it and then you go right to the practice field to work on those fundamentals and techniques,” Eberflus said. “You can’t listen to all the other outside noise because there will be a lot as a rookie for sure, especially at certain positions.”

Chicago is already highly unlikely to make the playoffs.

Sitting at 3-8 going into week 12, they are tied for the fourth-worst record in the league. They appear to have a hold on the No. 1 overall pick in the draft once again with the Panthers sitting with only one victory. However, if the Bears keep losing games, particularly ones they should win, they may put themselves in contention for the No. 2 overall pick as well. While that should not be the goal at this point in the season, since Eberflus is already most likely not going to be the head coach next season, losing may be in the franchise’s best interest for the future.

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