Veteran cornerback Prince Amukamara practiced without restrictions Friday and is expected to start Sunday’s game against the Dolphins in Miami.
Amukamara sat out the Bears’ last game, a 48-10 drubbing of the Buccaneers Sept. 30 at Soldier Field, with a hamstring injury he had sustained the previous week in a win over the Cardinals in Arizona.
Guard Eric Kush (neck) also practiced without restrictions Friday and is expected to play, but backup cornerback Marcus Cooper Sr. (hamstring) did not practice and has been ruled out of the game.
Rising to the occasion: After missing most of training camp and all of the preseason with a hamstring injury, outside linebacker Aaron Lynch has made steady progress since the start of the regular season.
Lynch delivered his most complete performance of the year against the Buccaneers, registering three tackles, one sack, one interception and one tackle-for-loss.
Lynch excelled as a rookie with the 49ers in 2014 when Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio served in the same capacity in San Francisco, recording six sacks while playing in all 16 games. Lynch followed with 6.5 sacks in 2015, but he compiled just 2.5 sacks the past two seasons while being limited to 14 games.
“He’s been a nice surprise,” said coach Matt Nagy. “When I say surprise, I use that lightly, just because we knew what he was. He has the past history with Vic.
“Aaron’s biggest deal was staying healthy and was getting him out on the field. So now for him to come in here and have the confidence of the system, the confidence with his [teammates], and now to produce … that’s good for us. That’s depth. That’s a position we rely on to have some depth. He’s doing a good job.”
What you want: Nickel back Bryce Callahan has also turned heads early in the season, compiling 14 tackles and one interception in the first four games.
“For me coming here, I didn’t know as much about him as I probably should have,” Nagy said. “He’s very underrated, in my humble opinion. He’s very athletic, he’s very instinctual, has a great attitude. He trusts the process, he trusts the defense, he trusts his teammates. He’s what you want and we feel very fortunate to have him there as our nickel.”
Positive vibes: With the Bears in first place in the NFC North with a 3-1 record, the vibe at Halas Hall is a lot different than last year when the Bears stumbled to a 5-11 mark.
“It’s a whole, new different feeling,” said quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. “For those of us who were here last year, especially for myself, it’s so much better coming into the building, being excited about going to work, about practicing with these guys. Even in the film room and meetings, everyone is just that much more locked in and loves what they do and is hungry to get better week after week.
“I guess that's a byproduct of winning. We just want to continue to keep going and keep growing and getting better. That's the goal every single week is to come out with a ‘W.’ But the vibe around this team, the building and the chemistry we have for one another is definitely something that we pride ourselves on and is helping us win as well.
Buying in: Trubisky credits Nagy with instilling a new winning culture at Halas Hall.
“I think everyone in this building has gotten better throughout the weeks,” said the second-year quarterback. “Coach Nagy just seems like he’s so in control. Everyone just vibes off his passion and his energy that he brings throughout the building. He knows exactly how he wants to run this thing. We just keep building together as a team. He has all his mantras and his sayings and everyone is buying into that and we’re just going to keep getting better going forward,
“To me, looking at him, he just always seems relaxed, in control. He knows exactly what he’s doing and we have that great relationship going where I can tell when he’s going to call what and how much I like that play. We’ve got that constant communication between him and myself and all the rest of the guys. It’s a good thing brewing. He’s done an awesome job and we love playing for him.”