Safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix was known mostly as a ballhawk when he signed with the Bears in free agency this year. But the sixth-year pro showed Sunday against the Giants that he also can be a physical tackler.
Clinton-Dix made three impressive open-field stops—including two on bruising running back Saquon Barkley—to help the Bears record a 19-14 victory at Soldier Field.
First, Clinton-Dix dropped Barkley for a 1-yard gain in the first quarter. Late in the first half, the veteran safety tackled Barkley in the open field after a 5-yard gain on second-and-six. On the next play, Leonard Floyd and Eddie Jackson teamed up to throw Barkley for a 4-yard loss, and Aldrick Rosas then missed a 43-yard field-goal attempt.
“We knew coming in that he had experience and had played at a really high level,” said defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano. “He’s done a great job ever since he’s walked into this building. He’s a veteran guy. He takes his job very, very seriously. He’s a great communicator. Prepares really well. You see him going out and playing week-in and week-out and being productive and that’s because of his preparation.”
Clinton-Dix produced another excellent open-field tackle early in the fourth quarter, forcing the Giants to turn the ball over on downs when he held receiver Sterling Shepard to a 1-yard reception on fourth-and-four from the Bears’ 44-yard line.
“He’s doing a great job tackling for us,” Pagano said. “He’s getting guys on the ground. That’s not an easy task. Guys that you've got to get on the ground, whether coming out of the backfield or receivers, tight ends, it doesn’t matter. He did a great job last week. He made a couple critical stops, especially fourth-and-four on a man-coverage deal; took a great angle, got the guy on the ground, got us off the field. He’s doing a great job.”
A fluid situation: Lions quarterback Jeff Driskel, who replaced the injured Matthew Stafford as the team’s starter three weeks ago, was limited in practice again Tuesday with a sore hamstring he sustained in Sunday’s road loss to the Redskins.
Asked about Driskel’s potential availability Thursday against the Bears, Lions coach Matt Patricia said: “It really is day-by-day for us because of [the] short week.”
With Stafford still sidelined with broken bones in his back, the only healthy Lions quarterback is rookie David Blough. Blough signed with the Browns as an undrafted free agent this year and was traded to the Lions Aug. 30. He appeared in 43 games with 36 starts the past four seasons at Purdue, passing for 9,550 yards with 64 touchdowns and 41 interceptions. He has yet to play in an NFL regular-season game.
The Bears expect Driskel to start but are also preparing for Blough. The last time the two teams played Nov. 10 at Soldier Field, an injured Stafford was scratched the morning of the game in favor of Driskel, who completed 27 of 46 passes for 269 yards with one touchdown, one interception and a 73.6 passer rating in a 20-13 Bears victory.
“We’re planning on Driskel going,” Pagano said. “I think we all understand and know why he made the injury report. He played the whole game. Our advanced scouting watched the whole game. They were there. They saw him pre-game. They saw him post. This, that and the other. We’ve looked at the other guy. It’s like the first game. They trotted No. 2 out there and we had to line up and play against him. We’ll show our guys enough tape on the other guy and make sure we’re ready for whoever lines up there.”
Injury update: The Bears are dealing with some injuries of their own. For the second straight day Tuesday, players who did not practice included tight ends Ben Braunecker (concussion) and Adam Shaheen (foot), receiver Taylor Gabriel (concussion), right tackle Bobby Massie (ankle), linebacker Danny Trevathan (elbow) and defensive back Sherrick McManis (groin).
Braunecker and Gabriel both suffered concussions in Sunday’s win over the Giants. Asked whether they’ll be able to play against the Lions, coach Matt Nagy said: “It would probably be a stretch with both of them. They’re in the protocol, so we’re kind of taking it day-by-day.”
This is the second concussion that Gabriel has sustained this season.
“Any time you deal with the word concussion it’s always a concern,” Nagy said. “When you deal with multiples, you just hope that these guys are OK. It’s a violent game. You want to make sure that whatever you’re doing that they’re taken care of health-wise.”