Wondering about a player, a past game or another issue involving the Bears? Senior writer Larry Mayer answers a variety of questions from fans on ChicagoBears.com.
I haven't heard much about running back Lamar Miller since the Bears signed him to their practice squad last week. What is his status and do you expect the Bears to put him on their active roster soon?
With their Thursday night game against the Buccaneers, the Bears didn't have any regular practices last week and then were off during the weekend. So this week was the first time they could really evaluate Lamar Miller, who is rebounding from a torn ACL he suffered last year in a preseason game. Based on what coach Matt Nagy said about Miller, it seems the Bears are easing him back into practice with plans to eventually add him to the active roster. Here's what Nagy said: "Right now, being able to see him get back to where he wants to be, where we want to be is important. And when he gets to that point, now you're looking at just being able to strengthen that running back room and [it] gives you a guy who can run between the tackles. I think he fits well into our scheme and what we do. He can catch the football … and he's got experience, so we've just got to take it day-by-day, week-by-week and really see where his strength is at with his injury and kind of coming back from that. And I think so far, so good. So we're going to keep that going."
Miller has appeared in 105 NFL games with 89 starts over seven seasons with the Dolphins (2012-15) and Texans (2016-18), rushing for 5,864 yards and 32 touchdowns on 1,354 carries and catching 209 passes for 1,565 yards and 8 TDs. He was voted to the Pro Bowl with Houston in 2018. Miller has previously worked with two Bears assistants: Offensive coordinator Bill Lazor served in the same role with the Dolphins in 2014-15 and running backs coach Charles London was Miller's position coach in Houston in 2016-17. Said Lazor: "I have very good memories and great experience with Lamar. He ran for over 1,000 yards in 2014. Very explosive player. He has explosive speed and acceleration. He's very decisive, in my experience with him, when the ball's in his hand. I think over time, being around a lot of places and a lot of running backs, you want running backs in this league who don't stutter their feet, who are decisive. Lamar has done that. He can accelerate through a hole."
I don't think there's a player in the NFL who takes kickoffs out of the end zone more than Cordarrelle Patterson. Is he given any criteria in terms of when it's OK or does he have the freedom to bring every kick out of the end zone?
If the ball lands in Cordarrelle Patterson's hands in the end zone, he's pretty much always bringing it out. I relayed your question to him during a Zoom interview with the media this week and here's what he said: "Honestly, man, I'm for sure 100 percent coming out. Coach Tabes (Chris Tabor), he gave me the green light. He tells me, 'Bring it out no matter what because sometimes you'll return it to the 15 or 20, [but] next time we could make a big play. Tabes gives me the green light each and every week, so I've just got to keep being aggressive and trusting those 10 guys out there blocking for me."
Patterson remains one of the best kickoff returners in NFL history; he enters Week 6 ranked third in the league with a 31.2-yard average and is second all-time behind Bears Hall of Famer Gale Sayers with a 30.0-yard career average.
With how well Cairo Santos is playing, do you see him getting bumped out if and when Eddy Piñeiro is ready to kick again? I think if your kicker is playing well, why change it up?
It certainly seems like Cairo Santos is beginning to earn the benefit of the doubt, especially after he made two go-ahead field goals, including the game-winner, in the fourth quarter last Thursday night against the Buccaneers. Santos is now a respectable 7-of-9 on the season while also making all 10 extra-point attempts. It promises to get more challenging as the temperature drops in Chicago. I'm not sure when Eddy Piñeiro will be able to return from the groin injury that has kept him from kicking since before training camp, but I know that the Bears are pleased with Santos. Said special-teams coordinator Chris Tabor: "I think he's growing with the Chicago weather and I think his confidence is high and I really like where he's at. Those are two big kicks [against the Buccaneers] and [I'm] really proud of him. He has that ability and the offense did a great job of getting us in position there."
Chalk Talk features fan questions multiple times each week. Email your question to Larry.