Bears right guard Teven Jenkins returned to practice Wednesday and was a full participant just 10 days after injuring his neck Dec. 18 against the Eagles at Soldier Field. The injury immediately caused him to be immobilized, carted off the field on a stretcher and taken to a hospital.
Jenkins told reporters Wednesday he knew he avoided a serious injury a few hours after it occurred. He recalls the doctors letting him put on a softer collar that allowed him to gain some mobility back. Jenkins was back at Halas Hall the following day, but didn't practice last week and was inactive Saturday against the Bills.
"It was a counter," Jenkins said of the injury. "I came around to pull. It was 94 I believe, came around and just hit me in the sweet spot where I was just most vulnerable. It just pushed my neck back. It just hit that in that sweet spot and as soon as that happened, like a big shock of pain happened. It was just like a lot of pain and a lot of nerves as well. It was just like stretching the nerves. Just a lot of things happened."
Including Jenkins, the Bears listed nine players on the Wednesday injury report. Receivers Chase Claypool (knee) and Equanimeous St. Brown (concussion) were the only players that did not participate. Claypool has missed the last two games after injuring his knee Dec. 4 against the Packers, while St. Brown left the Eagles game after being evaluated for a concussion, then remained out against Buffalo.
Defensive lineman Justin Jones (eye), receiver Dante Pettis (ankle), offensive lineman Cody Whitehair (knee), tight end Trevon Wesco (calf), linebacker Sterling Weatherford (illness) and defensive lineman Andrew Brown (ankle) were all limited participants Wednesday.
While quarterback Justin Fields told reporters after the Bills game that his foot was stepped on late in the fourth quarter, he was not listed on the injury report. Fields said Wednesday he was "feeling good," adding: "It was just swollen for a couple days, bleeding a little bit, but it's fine."
The left shoulder injury that Fields sustained Nov. 20 against the Falcons in Atlanta also isn't much of an issue.
"It hasn't affected me much," he said. "Throwing-wise, I felt fine after the incident happened. I think the biggest thing with it is just sprinting full speed and being able to use that arm to produce more power with running. But other than that, it's been fine."
End of season adjustments: While only two games remain in the Bears' season, Eberflus said there is still plenty of development to be done across the young roster. Eberflus and the coaching staff will also take these last two games to continue evaluating the roster which could lead to some minor lineup shifts against the Lions and Vikings.
"When you're at where our roster is at right now at the end of the year, we've got a lot of guys on IR so the combinations really aren't that many that you can do," Eberflus said. "But certainly we're going to move guys around a little bit, you know, potentially offensive line, defensive line. But it's not any big shift, you know, for example we might look at Justin Jones, might be a three technique and we might put him out at end. That's an example we might have. We've talked about doing that before. Just a couple things like that."
The Bears are also looking to finish the season on a strong note. Eberflus has repeatedly said the group needs to learn how to finish games and execute during crucial moments like end-of-game or two-minute situations. Aside from individual talent, Eberflus believes finishing comes down to the type of schemes implemented by the coaches.
"It's about having the right scheme, having the right players in the right position — and that's really the coaches' responsibility," Eberflus said. "So it's not just the player. It's certainly us — offense, defense and kicking — that's No. 1. And it's about executing. It's about having the execution there. You have to make those plays. You have to do them in practice first. Those are game-defining moments that you have."
Honorary Captain: Eberflus announced linebacker Nicholas Morrow as the Bears' honorary captain this week for the Lions game.
Morrow, who wears the green dot on the back of his helmet, signifying that he's the player who receives the calls from defensive coordinator Alan Williams and shares them with the rest of the defense, started the season as the Bears' middle linebacker, but moved over to the weakside when Roquan Smith was traded to the Ravens. The veteran linebacker now leads the Bears in total tackles (103), solo tackles (72) and tackles-for-loss (10). Morrow also recorded his first interception of the season against Buffalo, picking Bills quarterback Josh Allen off in the fourth quarter.
"He's done a nice job," Eberflus said, "Obviously, going through a little bit of a position change and all that during the middle of the year. My hat's off to him. He's certainly deserving of the honorary captain, and he's done a good job, since that switch, since moving to WILL linebacker and he's been productive. He's been our green dot guy and calling the defenses and keeping everybody lined up and all that, so it's good that he's our honorary captain."