10 Bears questions: On dinosaurs, a Dan Quinn what-if, Nerf and more
For only the second time, the Field Museum put a Walter Payton jersey on its 75-foot brachiosaurus skeleton Thursday.
While we wonder if the dinosaur’s neck gives him a better view of his receivers — see Glennon, Mike — here are 10 questions before the Bears’ home opener Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons:
1. What if?
Before hiring general manager Ryan Pace in January 2015, Bears chairman George McCaskey and consultant Ernie Accorsi interviewed two head coaching candidates: Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase and Seahawks defensive
coordinator Dan Quinn, now the coach of the Falcons.
“There was kind of a history of toughness that’s associated with the organization, from years and years ago, before I was born,” said Quinn, who took the Falcons job the day after the Seahawks lost the Super Bowl that February.
“I wanted to make sure I showed that respect for who they were and what they stood for and had that kind of toughness.”
2. But he was tempted?
Quinn’s father, Jim, grew up in Evanston and played baseball at Northwestern, where he met Quinn’s mom. Quinn’s older siblings were born in Evanston.
Jim, who died in 2016, took his family to Pasadena, California, for the Rose Bowl in 1996, when the Wildcats finally made it there.
3. Who’s playing Sunday?
Cornerback Prince Amukamara, who injured his ankle in the Bears’ third preseason game and hasn’t practiced since, is doubtful. Kyle Fuller should start in his place.
Guard Kyle Long (ankle), receiver Markus Wheaton (pinkie surgery) and outside linebacker Pernell McPhee (knee) are questionable. McPhee seems like the most likely to play — coach John Fox said he had a great week of preparation — though his snaps will be limited.
4. What about Wheaton?
He was only able to catch Nerf balls until mid-week, when he graduated to pigskin. He discovered the Bears own a pitching machine that fires only soft footballs.
“I’m thinking of buying one for my son,” he said. “He’s 3.”
5. Injuries, again?
The Bears, who finished last season with 19 players on injured reserve, started the week with nine.
But Pace called that number “a little misleading”; running back Ka’Deem Carey and quarterback Connor Shaw were the latest players to be cut off the IR on Friday, while only defensive back Deiondre’ Hall is eligible to rejoin the team this year.
The training staff spent the offseason tweaking players’ routines to try to keep them healthy. Pace still believes in what they’ve done.
“Coaches have bought in. I’ve bought in,” he said. “And I think we’re going to see that pay dividends this year.”
6. Wanna bet?
The over/under Sunday is 48.5 points. Seven of the last eight Bears-Falcons games were under.
7. Watch Roberts?
The Bears gave up one return touchdown last season — an 85-yarder by the Lions’ Andre Roberts off a punt. Roberts will return kicks and punts for the Falcons.
“He’s got production,” Bears special-teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers said. “He’s got good speed. I think he’s a really good decision maker, and I think he has outstanding vision.”
8. Best free-agent signing?
One of their own. Pace said giving tackle Charles Leno a contract extension last month was a good lesson for his teammates.
“He does things the right way, he’s a true pro, and I think he’s gotten better and better and he’s going to continue to ascend,” Pace said. “The locker room’s paying attention to who we’re rewarding.”
9. Is everyone safe?
Safety Deon Bush, one of six Florida-born Bears, went to Miami after growing up mere miles from the campus. He can rattle off hurricanes he has lived through — Frances, Ivan, Katrina, Wilma — but he’s worried about Irma, which is on track to strike Florida on Sunday.
His family back home has boarded up their house and gone to a shelter.
“That’s no joke, man,” he said.
10. Floyd’s hometown team?
Outside linebacker Leonard Floyd, born in Atlanta, says he didn’t grow up a Falcons fan.
“Hell no,” he said. “I was a Georgia Bulldog fan.”
Floyd will see plenty of those in town this weekend; his alma mater is playing at Notre Dame for the first time.
“Every traveling fan Georgia has is going to be in the building,” he said. “I wish I could go, but I’ve got to get ready for Atlanta.”
Follow me on Twitter @patrickfinley.