Tashaun Gipson: ‘No quit in this locker room’
Cornerback Jaylon Johnson said on a podcast that some players “are starting to go in the tank” as the Bears stumble out of contention. But Gipson, who knows end-of-season dissension when he sees it, disputed that. “Nobody’s packed it up,” he said.
Are the Bears starting to crack? Cornerback Jaylon Johnson said on a Barstool Sports podcast that a split was developing in the locker room, with some players checking out as the Bears stumbled out of contention at 4-9.
“You have the side of the locker room that is starting to go into the tank,” Johnson said, “and you have the guys that are still trying to fight and figure out how we can get better.”
But veteran safety Tashaun Gipson refuted that, saying, “I don’t see no quit in this locker room.”
Gipson, a 10-year veteran and a Pro Bowl safety on the 7-9 Browns in 2014, is an expert witness. He was on teams that fired the coach in four of his first five seasons in the NFL. The 2013 Browns (4-12) lost their last seven games. The 2015 Browns (3-13) and 2016 Jaguars (3-13) lost 10 of their last 11. And the 2018 Jaguars (5-11) lost 10 of their last 12.
“Nobody’s packed it up; I’d be the first guy to tell you [if they did],” Gipson said. “I’ve been on teams where guys are shipping their cars [home]. Right around this time, cars are getting shipped back home. That’s not the case [with the Bears]. I’m still driving my same car here. So I ain’t shipped my car home. I still feel like we have a lot to play for.”
Defensive coordinator Sean Desai said he has not seen players quitting on the season and pointed to the Bears’ game against the Packers last week as evidence. The Bears allowed 38 points in the second and third quarters, but only seven in the fourth in a 45-30 loss at Lambeau Field.
“I think you saw in that game our guys are competitors, and they’re going to fight and claw for everything they’ve got,” Desai said.
Don’t shoot — great shot
Bears kick returner Jakeem Grant seemed to commit a cardinal sin when he fielded a punt inside the 5-yard line against the Packers — but after running into trouble to his right, he reversed direction for a 97-yard touchdown. It’s the longest punt return in franchise history.
Bears special-teams coach Chris Tabor was OK with Grant fielding the punt in that situation — and not just because of the outcome.
“Probably to normal football fans, I think they’d say, ‘Why would you catch the ball inside the 5-yard line?’ because I think that is what everybody is taught,” Tabor said. “But in a special-teams world, if you have a special, dynamic returner, you can stretch it a bit further.
“I think when he caught the ball, players were still 15-16 yards away from him. So if players are going to be that far away, we want to take a shot on goal. And he did.”
Linebacker Roquan Smith (hamstring) and tight end Jimmy Graham (knee) were limited in Friday’s walkthrough practice. Defensive lineman Akiem Hicks (ankle) practiced in full for a second consecutive day.
Left tackle Jason Peters (ankle), cornerback Xavier Crawford (concussion) and wide receiver Marquise Goodwin (foot) did not practice. Peters has a high ankle sprain and is not expected to play against the Vikings on Monday night.