The Bears hope to continue a positive trend Sunday when they host the Lions at Soldier Field.
After forcing nine turnovers in their first 10 games, they've generated eight takeaways in their last two contests—four apiece during road contests in Detroit and Minnesota.
"Really, it's about continuity and about some of the pressure that our front four is providing with [Montez Sweat] and the rest of the group," said coach Matt Eberflus. "Our guys are understanding coverages now. We're able to disguise those coverages, mix them in there, and it's really all-encompassing for that. Certainly, there's some luck involved with the way the ball bounces sometimes, but hustle and attention to detail creates some of that luck too."
The Bears' eight takeaways since Week 11 are the second most in the NFL. In a 31-26 loss to the Lions Nov. 19 in Detroit, they registered three interceptions of Jared Goff and forced and recovered a fumble on a kickoff return. Eight days later in a 12-10 win over the Vikings in Minnesota, the defense intercepted four Joshua Dobbs passes.
The Lions have committed 17 giveaways this season, eight interceptions and nine lost fumbles.
In good health
Every player on the Bears roster practiced Wednesday, with cornerback Tyrique Stevenson (ankle), running back D'Onta Foreman (ankle) and tackle Larry Borom (illness) all participating in full. Only rookie linebacker Noah Sewell (knee) was limited.
"The health of the team is good," Eberflus said. "Credit to the performance staff, the training staff [who] have done an outstanding job of getting these guys healthy. We expect everybody back today and we'll see where it goes. Got to move them around a little bit, get them practicing. But we certainly love where they are."
The Bears were back on the practice fields at Halas Hall to continue their preparation for Sunday's NFC North battle with the Lions at Soldier Field.
My Cause My Cleats
While speaking to the media Wednesday, Eberflus displayed the shoes that he'll wear Sunday as part of the NFL's "My Cause My Cleats" initiative.
The program enables coaches and players to select a cause that's important to them and then represent their chosen organization on custom-designed cleats. For the second straight year, Eberflus selected the Zacharias Sexual Abuse Center in Gurnee.
This past summer, Eberflus and his two daughters attended a fundraiser and toured the facility, which is located about 12 miles north of Halas Hall.
"Had a couple minutes to speak with some of the survivors there that have been through the program," Eberflus said. "Very impactful. The educational programs there and the services they provide [are] second to none. It's well needed, and really just want to bring that to light because it's a subject that no one talks about. I think it's important that we bring that to light here in Chicagoland and support those people that are going through that. [It's] very important to us."
During his press conference, quarterback Justin Fields also showed off his shoes, which represent an organization that he created. The Justin Fields Foundation is dedicated to strengthening communities through focused grantmaking and strategic partnerships in the areas of youth empowerment, scholastic achievement, health, wellness and leadership development.
Fields said he started his foundation "to affect people in a positive way."
"We have this platform to where we can change so many lives," he said. "Really just any opportunity I can get, just being able to be a positive impact in the community and just doing all I can."
Man of the Year
Eberflus lauded defensive tackle Justin Jones for being named the Bears' nominee for the prestigious Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award.
The honor recognizes an NFL player for his excellence on and off the field. The award was established in 1970 and renamed after the Bears' legendary Hall of Fame running back after he passed away in 1999.
"[Jones] does a wonderful job during the time when he is here and even when he is out of the building," Eberflus said. "All year long he's been doing that."
Jones is a regular participant in Youth Guidance's "Becoming a Man" (BAM) program, which provides counseling to young men in grades 7-12 to learn, internalize and practice social cognitive skills, make responsible decisions for their future and become positive members of their school and community.
Last winter Jones "adopted" a Chicago area single mother and her three children for the holiday season, providing them with gift cards for everyday essentials such as groceries and gas, as well as electronics and Bears gear.
"Just a great job leading by example for what we want to do with the community relations in the building and outside in the Chicagoland [area]," Eberflus told reporters. "I really appreciate all the players for doing that. This is a time for giving. We're very fortunate all of us sitting in this room, and this is a time of giving. We should give back to the people of need and the people that need support."