Bears notes: WR Chase Claypool, RB David Montgomery miss practice
A team with a diminished list of notable players could be without two more when it hosts the NFL-leading Eagles on Sunday.
The Bears don’t have many stars, or even semi-stars, but one of those precious few is in question for the game against the Eagles on Sunday.
It could have been viewed as precautionary when wide receiver Chase Claypool missed practice Wednesday, but he was out again Thursday because of a knee injury. Bears coach Matt Eberflus has mostly avoided playing players who don’t practice.
The odd part about Claypool’s injury is that he finished the game in which he suffered it. His right knee got twisted on a catch in the second quarter against the Packers two weeks ago, but he came back and played with a brace on it.
It’s yet another hindrance to the Bears fully incorporating him into their offense. Since trading a second-round pick to the Steelers for him Nov. 1, Claypool has just 12 catches for 111 yards in five games. He has averaged fewer targets (4.4) with the Bears than with the Steelers (6.3), and his main frustration in Pittsburgh was the lack of opportunity.
The Bears are severely diminished at the position after Darnell Mooney’s season-ending injury. If Claypool is out Sunday, the Bears’ top three wide receivers likely would be Equanimeous St. Brown (17 catches this season), Dante Pettis (14) and Byron Pringle (five).
The missed practice time itself is -problematic for Claypool given that -Eberflus said this week he wasn’t fully up to speed on the offense, and offensive coordinator Luke Getsy agreed Thursday.
“He’s probably not where the other guys are, but as far as knowing what to do and how to do it, he’s in pretty good shape,” Getsy said. “He can handle most of the -offense. Now, how fast that absorbs when he hears the play call, I’m sure that’s not up to the [necessary] level.”
Montgomery out sick
Another notable player in question is running back David Montgomery.
He missed practice because of an unspecified illness, leaving the Bears staggeringly short-handed at that position because Khalil Herbert is still on injured reserve. Herbert is eligible to return against the Bills next week.
Sixth-round pick Trestan Ebner is next in line. In three games without Herbert, Ebner played 17 snaps on offense and ran six times for eight yards.
In that same span, Montgomery ran for 207 yards and two touchdowns on 45 -carries and caught 10 passes for 94 yards. He is second on the team to quarterback Justin Fields in total offense with 885 yards.
Leatherwood or Reiff?
The Bears stayed secretive about their plans at right tackle, though there would be good reason for them to give Alex Leatherwood his first start. They opened the season with Larry Borom in that spot, then switched to veteran Riley Reiff in Week 8 but worked Leatherwood in for 10 snaps against the Packers.
“We’re always going to do what we feel gives us the best opportunity to win, but I’m extremely interested to see where he can go,” Getsy said. “We’ve seen him get better each and every week, so the opportunities will continue to grow for him.”
Leatherwood, 23, was the No. 17 overall pick last year by the Raiders, and the Bears claimed him off waivers in August. He’s under contract through 2024.