Bears WR Chase Claypool doubtful vs. Bills; several starters out or questionable

After the offensive line struggled against the Eagles, it’ll likely go without Teven Jenkins and Cody Whitehair this week.

SHARE Bears WR Chase Claypool doubtful vs. Bills; several starters out or questionable
A photo of Bears wide receiver Chase Claypool making a catch during a game.

Claypool has 12 catches for 111 yards in five games.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

It’s hard for the Bears to know what they have in wide receiver Chase Claypool if they don’t get to see him play.

Claypool, who hasn’t practiced since injuring his right knee against the Packers on Dec. 4, probably will miss his second game in a row when the Bears host the Bills on Saturday. The Bears listed him as doubtful on their final injury report Thursday.

“We’re just leaving it open like that in case he does feel better and he does have better movement in the next 48 hours,” coach Matt Eberflus said.

The Bears traded a second-round pick to the Steelers for Claypool last month, thinking he’d quickly boost their underwhelming pass attack and become a pillar of their future. Instead, he has 12 catches for 111 yards and has played just 145 snaps over five games. While the Bears can analyze his 2½ seasons in Pittsburgh, they surely wanted a better first-hand look at him, given that he’ll be seeking a major contract extension after the season.

“You always want to see what they can do,” Eberflus said. “You want to see their skill sets. You want to be able to evaluate those things, and when a player’s out, you don’t get to do that.”

Claypool’s expected absence is merely one part of the problem for quarterback Justin Fields as he tries to make the most of the final three games. He’s already down Darnell Mooney, who suffered a season-ending ankle injury a month ago, and Equanimeous St. Brown is out with a concussion he suffered in last week’s loss to the Eagles.

If Claypool is unable to play, Fields’ best receiver options will be Dante Pettis (15 catches this season), Byron Pringle (seven) and N’Keal Harry (five).

Secondary concerns

With Bills superstar receiver Stefon Diggs coming to town, the last thing the Bears need is to be missing top cornerback Jaylon Johnson. Although Johnson practiced in full Tuesday and Wednesday and talked excitedly about taking on Diggs — who’s third in the NFL with 99 catches, 1,299 yards and 10 touchdown receptions — he was limited in practice Thursday with rib and finger injuries and is listed as questionable.

Eberflus said the finger is the main issue. He wouldn’t say whether it’s broken.

Additionally, Bears backup cornerback Kindle Vildor will miss his third consecutive game with an ankle injury.

Nothing special

The Bears rank last in the NFL with 17 sacks. Eberflus said there’s no excuse for it, other than players not delivering. Opponents’ offensive lines are content to take on the Bears’ defensive front with single blockers, which is what every pass rusher craves.

“They’re just playing us straight-up,” Eberflus said. “It’s pretty much normal protection. . . . A lot of 1-on-1’s on the edge, not as much chipping, not a lot of banging on the edge with the tight ends and the backs. We’re getting our looks that we need, and we’ve got to take advantage of those.”

The Bears dealt their best pass rusher, defensive end Robert Quinn, to the Eagles in October and have just five sacks in six games since. Rookie safety Jaquan Brisker leads the team with three.

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