Bears inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman has chest injury
The Bears could least afford to lose a receiver. But the position at which they likely feel most comfortable with their depth is about to be tested, too.
Inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman has a chest injury in addition to a self-reported concussion suffered Sunday, coach John Fox said Monday. His injury still was being evaluated.
Losing Freeman for a long period time would be a significant blow — he’s one of the Bears’ two defensive captains — but the team believes in his backup, second-year player Nick Kwiatkoski. Kwiatkoski started seven games last season after Freeman was suspended for using performance-enhancing drugs and Danny Trevathan tore the patellar tendon in his right knee.
‘‘He’s a good athlete,’’ Fox said. ‘‘He understands our defense a lot better. He had some good games in the preseason. I know our coaching staff is very confident in him.’’
Fox wondered aloud whether Freeman’s concussion contributed to the confusion — and broken coverage — on Falcons tight end Austin Hooper’s 88-yard touchdown catch Sunday.
‘‘We actually had the [defensive] call in early,’’ Fox said. ‘‘I’m not sure if that might have been a result of Jerrell with the concussion or not, but we just didn’t get it communicated.’’
The Bears played a different defense, Fox said, and ‘‘just didn’t execute the call we played very well.’’
Tampa trip likely
The Bears are 95 percent sure they’ll travel to Tampa, Florida, this weekend to play the Buccaneers in the wake of Hurricane Irma, Fox said.
On the small chance that Raymond James Stadium is unable to host a game, Fox said the Bears would play the game on the road somewhere else.
Fox owns a waterfront home on Marco Island, where the hurricane touched down Sunday, but said it emerged fine, with damage only to the roof tiles and pool cage. He feared 10 to 15 feet of storm surge, but the home got only about 3 feet.
‘‘We got plenty of wind damage,’’ Fox said. ‘‘But at the end of the day, I think it was all pretty good for all of South Florida.’’
Jordan Howard ‘‘landed on his shoulder funny’’ when he scored a touchdown at the end of the first half Sunday, Fox said, but he should be fine.
‘‘I think he’ll be all right,’’ Fox said. ‘‘It’s a tough game.’’
Howard, who dropped a pass at the pylon that could have given the Bears a lead in the final seconds, didn’t meet with the media Sunday.
• Benny Cunningham was diagnosed with a high ankle sprain, Fox said.
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