The Bears are starting to get used to prime time.
On Wednesday, the NFL changed the kickoff time for the Dec. 9 game against the Rams at Soldier Field from noon to 7:20 p.m. The game will air on “Sunday Night Football” on NBC.
It’s the second time in as many weeks that NBC decided to “flex” a Bears game into prime time. The Bears’ NFC North contest against the Vikings this Sunday also was originally scheduled to start at noon.
NBC was no doubt intrigued by the market size of the Rams and Bears. The Rams, at 9-1, are one of the NFL’s premier teams. The network is also betting that the Bears, who are currently in first place in the division, are still in the playoff chase in December.
The Bears opened the season on “Sunday Night Football” in Green Bay with a loss to the Packers. Their three Sunday night games will match a franchise record.
“Anytime you’re getting flexed, man, you’re in a good situation,” defensive end Akiem Hicks said last week. “Whether it works with your schedule or not, getting flexed is awesome. I think we take a great deal of pride in people wanting to see us on national TV and wanting to see us play in those prime-time spots. You’re really humbled by it because you’re getting an opportunity other teams aren’t getting.”
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer admits maybe he’s the wrong person to ask about kicking. The Vikings have struggled with it, trading up to draft Daniel Carlson in the fifth round this year before cutting him in September after he missed three kicks in a tie against the Packers.
In the wake of Cody Parkey’s struggles on Sunday — he missed two extra points and two field goals by hitting the upright four times in the Bears’ win over the Lions — Zimmer was asked how Soldier Field affects his own kicking strategy.
“Obviously, the night game will be a little bit different with the weather, how far the ball carries,” Zimmer said. “You have to think about it on both sides of the ball, when they’re on offense and when we’re on offense as well. And trying to do that depending on the grass, how the footing is for the kicker. And then, obviously, the wind conditions. And then the clock.”
Tight end Dion Sims (concussion) was the only Bears player on the injury report Wednesday. He did not practice.
• Tight end Adam Shaheen, who is practicing as he recovers from a right foot/ankle injury, was not included on the injury report because he has yet to be placed on the active roster.