Bears notebook: New WR Chase Claypool’s role to expand vs. Lions

Plus, a look at tight end Cole Kmet as a short-yardage runner and Roquan Smith’s goodbye to Chicago.

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A photo of Bears WR Chase Claypool on the sideline during the Dolphins game.

Claypool caught two passes for 13 yards in his Bears debut.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

New Bears receiver Chase Claypool had a quiet debut Sunday with two catches for 13 yards against the Dolphins, but his role should grow rapidly.

Claypool arrived last Wednesday after the Bears traded a second-round pick to the Steelers for him. Based on his limited grasp of the playbook, he got just 26 snaps against the Dolphins. Coach Matt Eberflus wouldn’t put a number on it, but it’s likely the Bears are looking to double that Sunday against the Lions.

“Just keep building more and more and more, and what he can handle in the game plan, we’re gonna give it to him,” Eberflus said. “He’s an exciting guy for our future here, and we’re excited for where he is.”

Claypool played 86% of the Steelers’ snaps before being traded.

Despite minimal production, his first game with the Bears was eventful. He drew a pass-interference penalty on the opening drive to gain 28 yards and take the Bears into scoring range. Quarterback Justin Fields also threw deep to him with the game on the line in the final minutes, although Claypool couldn’t make the catch as Dolphins cornerback Keion Crossen wrapped him up before the ball arrived.

“The whole stadium saw the tug and all that before the ball came in there” and thought it was an obvious pass-interference penalty by Crossen, Eberflus said.

Kmet sneaks

The Bears opted for a direct snap to tight end Cole Kmet on a third-and-one Sunday rather than send Fields through the pile on a quarterback sneak. There’s a good chance they’ll do more of that going forward. Not only is it a way to get Kmet the ball more — a struggle this season — but it saves Fields some wear. It’s also a decent idea given that Kmet is 6-6, 260 pounds, compared to Fields’ leaner-framed 6-3, 228.

“It’s fun,” Kmet said. “Now I realize what Justin goes through on those sneaks. You get popped on those things. So anytime you can take some hits off Justin in those situations, that’s a good thing, as well.”

Kmet had a season-high five catches for 41 yards and two touchdowns. He has 19 catches for 200 yards and three TDs this year.

Eberflus: Jackson play was clean

In addition to disagreeing with the non-call on Crossen, Eberflus reiterated his frustration with the pass-interference penalty against safety Eddie Jackson that handed the Dolphins 47 yards in the fourth quarter. Tua Tagovailoa chucked the ball deep for Jaylen Waddle down the right sideline; Jackson was penalized for bumping into Waddle as both players went for the ball. 

Eberflus brought it up unprompted.

“Eddie played that really nice,” he said. “I can’t really coach him up any better than that. . . . He’s got a right to play the ball, and he did play the ball.”

He said the Bears would contact the NFL about both plays in question.

Roquan’s farewell

Linebacker Roquan Smith debuted for the Ravens on Monday night, a week after general manager Ryan Poles dealt him for a second-round pick. Before the game, Smith released a letter thanking Bears fans and the organization. He mentioned chairman George McCaskey, former general manager Ryan Pace, Bears icon Dick Butkus and even the Halas Hall cafeteria staff — but not a word about Poles and Eberflus.

“When my career is over, we’ll reminisce on all the good times we shared together in Chicago,” Smith wrote to fans. “I’m forever grateful for those memories.”

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