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Eberflus: Bears 'have to improve' red-zone execution | Quick Hits

Bears coach Matt Eberflus
Bears coach Matt Eberflus

The Bears offense made three trips to the red zone against the Giants last Sunday, but were unable to reach the end zone, coming away with only four field goals in a 20-12 loss.

The unit showed improvement in driving down the field—highlighted by quarterback Justin Fields' 56-yard pass to receiver Darnell Mooney and 23-yard completion to tight end Trevon Wesco—but coach Matt Eberflus knows the offense needs better execution at the end of drives.

"We certainly have to improve on that," Eberflus said. "It's about scoring. This league is about scoring touchdowns and defensively we're doing OK right now. But offensively, we need to improve that percentage. But again, the practices just have to translate. It's been good red-zone practices. We've got good schemes down there. It just has to translate to the game now."

Rookie tackle Braxton Jones said success in the red zone ultimately comes down to every player executing their assignment.

Jones cited receiver Equanimeous St. Brown and running back Khalil Herbert touchdowns in the Week 1 win over the 49ers as examples of the entire offense doing its job. Jones said the key to those drives was taking it one play at a time and "clueing in."

"There's nothing else to really put it on, besides all 11 not doing our jobs," Jones said. "It's obviously a little bit more of an emphasis. But we haven't been terrible in the red zone, except for last week, so I think we've just got to execute better. I know a few times for me, I think we're in the high red zone and I had one bad play, and then it led to a fumble, and then the false start that killed it. So certain things like that, just gotta clue in better and not really hurt the drive and kill the drive. But that's all it is."

Prepping for Harry's return

Receiver N'Keal Harry's 21-day window to return from injured reserve began Wednesday as he will begin individual work at practice. Harry has been out since Aug. 6 when he injured his ankle in practice.

Eberflus said Harry has been working with the strength staff to prepare for his return and the team likes where the receiver is at with his movement.

Harry's potential return to the active roster would add another dimension to the receiver room, given his size and unique skillset.

"Obviously when you have a big-bodied receiver like that that's open and has got a good catch radius and can big-body guys, that's an important thing to have," Eberflus said. "Situational football, third down and red zone, those are all important things to look at when you're looking at catchers, and he certainly has that."

While Fields spent limited time with Harry in training camp, he felt the early stages of a connection forming. Fields also believes Harry's larger frame will provide different opportunities for the offense.

"He would of course be a good matchup for smaller DBs," Fields said. "One-on-one, especially red zone, just throwing up a jump ball to him, that's one of the things he does really well. So just being able to throw more 50-50 balls."

Injury Update: The Bears listed six players on Wednesday's injury report. Cornerback Jaylon Johnson (quad), running back David Montgomery (ankle) and safety Dane Cruikshank (hamstring) continued to be non-participants in practice. Cornerback Jaylon Jones also did not practice due to illness.

Linebacker Matt Adams (hamstring) and tight end Ryan Griffin (achilles) were both limited Wednesday after missing the last two games.

Santos excited to get back to work

After missing last Sunday's game with an undisclosed personal issue, kicker Cairo Santos is back at Halas Hall and ready to go for Week 5. Santos expressed his gratitude to his coaches and the Bears staff for supporting him over the last week.

"I want to thank the Bears organization, Flus, Hightower, Poles, George McCaskey and the guys I was talking to when I was away," Santos said. "The support I got was comforting. It was difficult to be away from my teammates, my family here inside the building. It's hard to be away from something that you love, but it was something that it was important for me to take the time and get it all good."

Santos credited kicker Michael Badgley for an "impressive" performance "on such a short week." Badgley signed with the Bears Saturday, then made 4-of-4 field-goal attempts in New York.

The Bears hit the Halas Hall practice fields Wednesday afternoon as they get ready for Sunday's NFC North matchup with the Vikings.

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