Bears returner Velus Jones’ path to return: ‘Keep developing’

The Bears made Jones a healthy scratch Thursday, five days after he was whistled for a facemask penalty while covering a punt against the Saints.

SHARE Bears returner Velus Jones’ path to return: ‘Keep developing’
Chicago Bears v Los Angeles Chargers

Bears receiver Velus Jones falls while trying to catch a touchdown against the Chargers.

Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images

Receiver/returner Velus Jones has a path toward returning to the Bears’ game-day roster — eventually. The Bears made Jones a healthy scratch against the Panthers, five days after he was whistled for a face-mask penalty while covering a punt against the Saints.

“He’s got to just work his tail off in practice,” special-teams coordinator Richard Hightower said. “He’s got to keep developing, and he’ll have a chance out there to compete. We’re always going to try to put the best guys out there for that game to win that week. It can change week-to-week. He’s just to keep going about his business the right way.”

Hightower said his practice performance Wednesday was one of his best of the year.

The Bears had hoped Jones would continue his above-average kickoff returns, and he has, averaging 27.2 yards. He has returned only six kicks, though. He has caught three passes for nine yards, dropping what would have been a touchdown pass against the Chargers, and has run four times for 22 yards. That’s not the production the Bears envisioned when they used a third-round pick on him last year.

Hightower has other problems to worry about, though — the Bears gave up a 79-yard punt-return touchdown to the Panthers.

“You lose a lot of sleep over it,” he said.

Josh Blackwell, one of the Bears’ best special-teamers, had a shot to tackle returner Ihmir Smith-Marsette. Hightower said Blackwell should have used shorter strides when he got closer to the returner to have more control when he went for the tackle.

“I think if we do that, we make the ball go east and west,” he said. “And when you make the ball go east and west, you buy the time for the rest of the coverage to come downfield.”

Herbert full-go

Running back Khalil Herbert took the next step toward returning to game action when he was a full participant in practice Thursday. The Bears seemed to make room for him to come off injured reserve Friday or Saturday when they later cut running back Darrynton Evans.

Splitting carries between Herbert and D’Onta Foreman on Sunday would be a “fortunate position to be in,” offensive coordinator Luke Getsy said. Herbert has been out since injuring his ankle in Week 5.

“We’re excited to get him back on the field,” Getsy said. “And exactly how much or all that looks like, I think . . . we’ve got to figure that out.”

Foreman — who was limited Thursday because of the ankle injury he suffered a week earlier — has earned carries, too.

“We love the downhill style that he’s been playing with and the physicality that he’s been playing with,” Getsy said.

Jefferson vs. Bears?

Vikings star receiver Justin Jefferson was limited in practice for the second straight day and could return from a hamstring injury Nov. 27 against the Bears.

“It’s tough that I’ve been out for a while now, but I’m ready to get back out there,” he told Vikings reporters.

Jefferson — who led the NFL with 128 catches and 1,809 receiving yards last season — said he’ll have the final say in his return. He returned to practice last week after going on injured reserve.

“I’m the one going out there and putting my body on the line,” he said.

This and that

Middle linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, who injured his knee two weeks ago against the Chargers, remains out. Jack Sanborn (ankle), who took Edmunds’ place the last two weeks, was upgraded to full practice participation.

• Linebacker Noah Sewell (knee) was limited, and tight end Marcedes Lewis got a veteran’s day off.

• Getsy sounded confident Teven Jenkins’ switch from right to left guard will go well, saying he has done so before and it “speaks to the type of player he is.”

• Lions center Frank Ragnow (toe/back), defensive tackle Isaiah Buggs (illness) and guard Jonah Jackson (wrist/ankle) did not practice.

The Latest
A 22-year-old woman and 55-year-old man were in a verbal altercation at the Jackson Blue Line stop in the 300 block of South Dearborn about 3:30 p.m. Sunday when the man allegedly cut her forearms and hands with an object, police said.
To say that the sports-video gaming world has been in a decade of darkness is an understatement. Eleven years to be exact.
While some Democrats issued statements of strong support for the vice president, others stayed mum, for now — with just weeks to go before the Democratic National Convention kicks off in Chicago on Aug. 19.
Thorpe lowers ERA to 3.03 in fifth straight start with 2 or fewer runs allowed.