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Bears to play in Tampa as scheduled

Posted Sep 12, 2017

After assessing damage from Hurricane Irma, the Buccaneers announced Tuesday that they will host the Bears in Tampa Sunday at Raymond James Stadium as scheduled.

After assessing damage from Hurricane Irma, the Buccaneers announced Tuesday that they will host the Bears in Tampa Sunday at Raymond James Stadium as scheduled.

The game will be the season opener for the Buccaneers, whose Week 1 contest against the Dolphins in Miami was moved to Week 11 due to the hurricane that hit Florida.

"We have been working tirelessly with the Tampa Sports Authority, as well as the NFL league office, to ensure that Raymond James Stadium would be available to host our season opener against the Chicago Bears this Sunday," said Buccaneers chief operating officer Brian Ford.

"Hosting the game is important to us, as Tampa Bay has been through a lot over the past few days. We look forward to providing our fans and the entire region an opportunity to come together this Sunday to kick off our 2017 season."

The Bears will play the Buccaneers in Tampa for the third straight season. The teams split the previous two meetings with the Bears winning 26-21 in 2015 and losing 36-10 in 2016.

Health update: Receiver Kevin White wasn't the only Bears player who was injured in Sunday's season opener against the Falcons. Linebacker Jerrell Freeman suffered a concussion and a pectoral injury, while running back Benny Cunningham sustained a high ankle sprain.

If Freeman is unable to play moving forward, the contingency plan likely would begin with second-year pro Nick Kwiatkoski, who showed promise late last season as a rookie.

Jerrell Freeman
Bears linebacker Jerrell Freeman.

"He's a good athlete," said coach John Fox. "He understands our defense a lot better. He had some good games in the preseason. I know our coaching staff is very confident in him. We've got Jonathan [Anderson], who is on our practice squad, that's a young player that we like that got action a year ago. And then Christian Jones has had a good camp and hopefully Danny Trevathan gets better and better each week as he gets back to playing football."

White, who is headed to injured reserve after fracturing his scapula in the fourth quarter against the Falcons, tweeted a message Tuesday that read: "I ask why me, but I know God has a plan much bigger than what I want. I'm thankful for everyone that's supporting me."

Loud crowd: Fox lauded the support the Bears received from their fans Sunday at Soldier Field.

"I thought our crowd was outstanding," he said. "Obviously they're dying for us to become a winner. Unfortunately, we weren't able to deliver, but they were definitely into it. I thought it was a great atmosphere. I think there at the end they were pretty into it."

Solemn remembrance: Fox opened his press conference Monday commemorating the 16th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The Bears coach worked as a Giants assistant at the time.

"This is 9/11 so it's kind of always imbedded in my brain and heart," Fox said Monday. "I happened to be in New York when that occurred. In tribute to that I normally wear a hat but just to make sure everybody remembers that. A lot of great people lost their lives that day."

Fox has vivid memories of the horrific event

"We came back from a Monday night game out in Denver," he said. "We landed roughly about 8:30 in the morning into Newark. I know the one flight that crashed in [Pennsylvania] was actually pulling out of the same jet way we were at. We're driving down the Turnpike and the smoke's billowing out of one of the Towers and I think history speaks for the rest of that day."