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Chalk Talk

Will young players get more reps?

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Wondering about a player, a past game or another issue involving the Bears? Senior writer Larry Mayer answers a variety of email questions from fans on ChicagoBears.com.

Now that the Bears basically have no chance to make the playoffs this season, do you think they will start giving their young players more chances to play in the final four games?

Terrence P.
Chicago

The Bears are already playing a whole lot of young inexperienced players. I remember looking at the defense at one point on Thanksgiving against the Lions and counting six rookies on the field in defensive tackles Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton, linebacker Christian Jones, cornerbacks Kyle Fuller and Al Louis-Jean, and safety Brock Vereen. I expect all of them except maybe Louis-Jean to continue to get a lot of reps the remainder of the season. There aren't as many rookies on offense, with the exception of running back Ka'Deem Carey and tackle Charles Leno Jr., Jr. While both have seen some spot duty in recent weeks, I don't expect either of them to get significant playing time barring an injury over the final month of the season, primarily because the Bears aren't going to take running back Kyle Long or tackles Jermon Bushrod and Jordan Mills off the field.

I see that Robbie Gould hurt his quad and may not play against the Cowboys. Will punter Pat O'Donnell fill both roles for the Bears?

Robert F.
Oak Forest, Illinois

I don't see that happening. I can't remember the last time a player served as both a team's punter and place-kicker in an NFL game (not counting when one of the specialists is actually injured during the game). It's far too much to ask of anyone, especially a rookie, because the jobs are so different. If Robbie Gould can't go Thursday night against the Cowboys, I would expect the Bears to sign a kicker off the street. UPDATE: Later Wednesday, the Bears announced that Gould is doubtful for the game and they signed veteran Jay Feely.

What is the Bears record on Thursday Night Football?

Peter O.
Glenview, Illinois

The Bears are 5-4 on Thursday Night Football, including 2-0 at home. They will have played one Thursday night game in six of the last seven seasons, beating the Saints 27-24 in overtime in 2008, the Dolphins 16-0 in 2010 and the Giants 27-24 in 2013, while losing to the Redskins 24-16 in 2007, the 49ers 10-6 in 2009 and the Packers 23-10 in 2012. The only year they didn't play a Thursday night game during that span was 2011.

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