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Brisker, Gordon eager to get back on the field

Bears rookie defensive backs Jaquan Brisker and Kyler Gordon
Bears rookie defensive backs Jaquan Brisker and Kyler Gordon

Bears rookie defensive backs Jaquan Brisker and Kyler Gordon were full participants in practice Wednesday for the first time since suffering concussions against the Falcons Nov. 20.

Having missed back-to-back games against the Jets and Packers, the pair of 2022 second-round draft picks are itching to make their returns Sunday against the Eagles – one of the league's top offenses and Super Bowl contenders.

"It's always a great opportunity when a team like this comes into our home turf and we play them," Brisker said. "That's a great opportunity. That's why you play the game. Against the great quarterbacks, the great receivers, a 1,000-yard rusher in Miles Sanders, anything like that. It's always great to be challenged every week. Everybody's great, everybody's good in the NFL. It's always good to have a good challenge. No one's going to shy away from the Eagles or whoever comes in here or wherever we go."

Gordon said the defense is embracing the opportunity to "play the best team," viewing the game as a chance to "show what our whole group can do, what we're capable of."

Prior to the concussions, both Brisker and Gordon were continuously progressing in the Bears' young defense, starting the first 11 games at safety and cornerback, respectively.

Brisker leads the Bears in sacks with three, ranks fourth in total tackles with 73 and has one interception, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. Gordon has recorded 55 tackles, four pass breakups, an interception and a forced fumble.

While the rookies' success has been building, neither is satisfied with their level of production and are looking to make bigger jumps in the final four weeks of the season.

"Just finishing out the best that I can with my team, putting a good note on the end of the season and really just finishing strong," Gordon said. "All the goals and everything I've been trying to do, building up and all the experience, obviously just trying to go out and make more and more plays as I go on. I just want to play to the best of my ability that I know I can, and that's what I plan on doing."

For Brisker, producing more takeaways and putting additional pressure on opposing quarterbacks are two defining factors of a successful end to his rookie campaign. Racking up more sacks is something coach Matt Eberflus also wants to see out of Brisker but is pleased with the rookie's production so far.

"It's about continuing to improve and do a really good job with his blitzing," Eberflus said. "He's a really good blitzer. We like to send him a lot. We're pleasantly surprised where he is, where he's grown to. Every time we've asked him to do something to get better at, he's done it. We're excited to see where this is going here the next four games."

When Brisker and Gordon get back into the lineup this weekend, the Bears secondary will look different from the last time the pair were on the field. A week after the rookies suffered concussions, veteran safety Eddie Jackson injured his foot against the Jets and was placed on injured reserve, ending his 2022 season.

"It's different, but everybody still works hard, and everybody still has the same goal," Brisker said. "These guys, they all work hard, we're all in the same room, we all know each other. Just life. It's obviously different because BoJack was a leader and people like that are sitting out, so that's tough."

Without Jackson, the rookie defensive backs will play an even larger role in trying to stop an Eagles offense led by dynamic quarterback Jalen Hurts, who is among the top 10 in the NFL with 3,157 passing yards and has the fourth-best completion rate with 68 percent. Hurts has thrown 22 touchdown passes while rushing for 686 yards and 10 TDs.

While the entire defense will be tested on Sunday, Gordon and Brisker will face a tougher challenge having not played in nearly four weeks. However, the rookies feel prepared for a large workload and are eager to share the field with their teammates again.

"I take it like the same way like I came in, being thrown in the fire," Gordon said. "I mean, it's the same thing. This is a good team at the end of the day. You just go and prepare to the best of your abilities, so you give yourself a chance to win. That's what I want to do. I'm going to do my preparation, everything I've been doing a little more, whatever I got to do to get the edge on the opponent. Just be more detailed and intentional on the things I see and prepare myself the best way to be successful."

The Bears returned to practice Wednesday afternoon as they continue preparing for Sunday's game against the Philadelphia Eagles.