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Pace talks Bears-Cardinals on radio pregame show


General manager Ryan Pace spoke with Jeff Joniak Sunday on the Bears pregame radio show on WBBM Newsradio 780 AM and 105.9 FM. The following is a transcript of Pace's comments:

On feeling relaxed and invigorated like coach Matt Nagy following the Thanksgiving win over the Lions:

"I really do. I think coming off some tough close losses in the prior weeks and getting a win like that on Thanksgiving feels good. I thought it was good also for us to have a couple additional days to recover and reset for really an important stretch as we go forward. But the vibe and the mood in the building has been good, and that starts with Matt and really the leaders throughout our team."

On his day-in and day-out approach with Nagy:

"As you know, Matt and I are constantly talking. In the middle of the season like this, it's just constant talk about the solutions in-season and adjusting to injuries that we've had, building on areas we're doing well, adjusting in areas we need to improve, and that's really the primary focus."

On whether facing the NFC's top two teams back-to-back in the Cardinals and Packers is a critical part of the season:

"For sure, and I think we all recognize that. It's a great opportunity for our organization, but really the focus for us has really been more on us and executing internally and locking in on the details that honestly affect wins and losses in our league."

On progress being made:

"From a personnel perspective, I see obvious growth. There's young guys playing really well: Roquan [Smith], Jaylon [Johnson], [Darnell] Mooney, [Cole] Kmet; those names come to mind, our running backs. I also think it's great to see some of these vets step up and perform at a high level. I think a good example of that would be Robert Quinn this past month, and he's been recognized for that [as NFC Defensive Player of the Month for November]. So, I see growth among our personnel."

On Quinn being a stabilizer and a strong voice on defense:

"We're so proud of him, and it's the way he works, the way he practices. It's the type of teammate that he is, it's his approach and outlook on life in general. It's just awesome to see him get recognized. I know his teammates are all happy for him. He got a little standing ovation when he walked into the training room the other day. It's well-deserved because of all the work that he puts in and the person that he is."

On Jaylon Johnson being comfortable in speaking up and a hard-nosed attitude:

"One of the many reasons we loved him coming out of Utah was because of his personal and football character makeup. So, beyond the high-end physical talent, it's the intangible and leadership that he has. I thought our college scouts did a good job of illustrating that in the pre-draft process as we went into that. And now as we get into Year 2 with Jaylon, and he really gets settled in, I think you're starting to see those qualities come to light with his makeup."

On Darnell Mooney having a presence that's similar to Johnson:

"For sure. It's really our young core in general. I think beyond the talent it's the type of people and teammates they are: High-end work ethic, obsessed with being great. With Mooney, you see it consistently with his daily approach. There's a common denominator amongst these guys. Mooney's had back-to-back 100-yard receiving games, and it's a product of all that hard work, a lot of times when no one's watching, no one's looking, it's a product of all that paying off."

On the defense performing well despite a rash of injuries:

"There are a lot of guys who have stepped up, and that's good to see. But I also think about our coaches. Sean Desai and his staff have done a really good job of adjusting and adapting to personnel changes within the season and really playing players to their strengths and getting creative with how those guys are deployed, and that's been good to see."

On the return of rookie tackle Teven Jenkins following back surgery:

"We activated Teven yesterday. We're excited; he's excited. It goes back to all the hard work he's done behind the scenes. He's really practiced well the last three weeks. I think [offensive line coach] Juan [Castillo] and [assistant line coach] Donnie [Raiola] have done a great job with the process and I would say this, too: You look at our O-line room in general, it's loaded with a lot of high character guys who help each other out. I think the room epitomizes unselfishness and doing whatever's necessary. I see the vets bringing Larry Borom along, too. Teven's worked hard; it'll be good to get him up for this game and just get him in the mix."

On Jenkins' role:

"I think there will be a way to work him in. A lot of those guys are playing well, but just take it step-by-step, and him having a jersey and being dressed and being out there is a good first step, and we'll take it from there."

On how quarterback Andy Dalton is navigating his opportunities:

"It's been great to see. Andy's a true pro. You saw it in his performance last week on Thanksgiving. He was prepared, he was ready to go. Andy's talent, his experience, his overall makeup, it's something we feel fortunate to have. And I look at Justin [Fields]. He's been working hard. Even though he's been out [with a rib injury], he's been fully engaged. He practiced this entire week. We all know how tough he is. It's just taking it day-by-day with him and getting him ready to go."

On veteran linebacker Bruce Irvin being flexed from the practice squad:

"He's looked good in practice. He's got an awesome attitude. It took some time for him to recover from [a torn ACL he suffered in Week 2 last year], but we feel he's fully recovered. So, we're excited to get him out there. I think our pro scouts did a good job of kind of staying on that all the way back from basically training camp on. To get him in the building, we've got some players on the team who know him from Khalil [Mack] to Mario Edwards Jr., we've got a handful of guys who have played with him in the past. He's looked good, and it'll be good to get him in the mix."

On Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray:

"Big-time player. First overall pick. It's his third year in the league. He's progressively gotten better every year. As a young quarterback, you've seen his personal won/loss record as a starter, he went from 5-10 as a rookie to 8-8 last year and I think his personal record now is 7-1. He's an elite-level athlete, high-end arm talent. He gets the ball out fast. He's got such an impressive throwing motion, just the way the ball zips off his hand with that velocity is unique. He's one of the top young quarterbacks in our league who can win multiple ways, so it's a big-time challenge."