The Bears can clinch their first NFC North title since 2010 with a win over the Packers Sunday at Soldier Field. But coach Matt Nagy doesn't want his players to approach the game any differently than any other contest this season.
"I want them to treat it like a regular game because that's what it is ultimately," Nagy said. "We're into this whole thing of don't change and continue doing what you do this whole time and what got you to where you got to. There is no need to put more added pressure on yourself or do things differently for any reason; that's coaches, players, people in the building. It will just be a normal game for us."
Nagy understands that players know what's at stake Sunday, and he's fine with that—as long as they don't alter the way they prepare for or play in the game.
"Everybody needs to know where we're at," Nagy said. "That part is more than fair. I'm not about the big elephant in the room that no one talks about. I'm more than fine with them understanding where we're at. But I don't want them to change how they prepare. I don't want them to chance when they get into the game playing differently, whether that's tighter or looser. Just play how you've been playing."
A new nickel: Sunday's game will be the first for the Bears this season without nickel back Bryce Callahan, who was placed on injured reserve after breaking his left foot in last Sunday night's win over the Rams.
McManis replaced Callahan against the Rams and finished the game leading the Bears with seven tackles. "He's had [previous] experience there," Fangio said. "If you remember, he played there for about the first half of the 2016 season and then when we inserted Bryce, he became a mentor to Bryce all the way along, starting at that point and it has continued up until this point. I think he'll be ready to play."
Although Houston-Carson has not played much on defense since being selected by the Bears in the sixth round of the 2016 draft, Fangio revealed that the third-year pro has had "a lot of experience in practice" at the nickel position.
"He's a smart guy," Fangio said. "He has good instincts, and I know personally he has been champing at the bit to get some defensive snaps. I think he'll be ready mentally and emotionally."
Long story: Nagy said Thursday that guard Kyle Long is "coming along well" from the foot injury he sustained Oct. 28 against the Jets.
"He was out of his boot, you saw that yesterday," Nagy said. "He's progressing the right way. He's in good spirits and that is a positive for us."
Long is eligible to return to the active roster prior to the Bears' season finale Dec. 30 in Minnesota. Asked if that remains an option, Nagy said: "It could be a possibility. We've just got to see, though. All is going to be dependent on how he heals from everything and then where he's at, and we'll just continue to monitor that."
Tumbling time: Fangio has said on multiple occasions that he feels more relieved than excited immediately after wins. Given how well the defense performed in helping the Bears topple the Rams, he was asked if he enjoyed the victory more than others.
"I tried to do a cartwheel, but I couldn't," Fangio deadpanned.
"Yeah, you enjoy it, but really it was a lot of satisfaction, happy for our players, knowing what it meant for them as individuals and as a unit. The Sunday night games, you get home later and then have to get right back at it, so that curtails a little of the celebrating. But it was a very good performance and I was happy for our players."