Bears Rumors

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/20/20

Here are Friday’s minor moves:

Baltimore Ravens

Chicago Bears

  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: OL Lachavious Simmons

Indianapolis Colts

Las Vegas Raiders

New York Jets

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • Placed on reserve/COVID-19 list: RB T.J. Logan; Logan remains on IR

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/19/20

Here are the most recent NFL minor moves:

Buffalo Bills

Chicago Bears

Cleveland Browns

Jacksonville Jaguars

  • Placed on IR: CB C.J. Henderson

Kansas City Chiefs

Minnesota Vikings

  • Placed on reserve/COVID-19 list: FB C.J. Ham

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/18/20

Here are Wednesday’s minor moves:

Baltimore Ravens

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Miami Dolphins

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

  • Activated from IR: OL Phil Haynes
  • Placed on IR: CB Neiko Thorpe

Tennessee Titans

Bears To Work Out QB DeShone Kizer

In a tight spot at quarterback, the Bears are reaching out to a former starter-turned-multiyear backup for potential help. They are hosting DeShone Kizer for a workout, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets.

Nick Foles suffered a hip injury Monday, and with Mitchell Trubisky already out, the Bears turned to the seldom-used Tyler Bray on a last-ditch drive. That march did not materialize, leading to Chicago losing a fourth straight game. The Bears have a bye in Week 11.

The Raiders cut Kizer in May but brought him back on their practice squad. A former second-round pick out of Notre Dame, Kizer started 15 games for the Browns’ 0-16 squad in 2017. The Raiders carried him as one of their backups in 2019, doing so after the Browns traded Kizer to the Packers in 2018. Kizer worked out for the Lions and Titans earlier this year.

It is not certain Foles will miss Chicago’s Week 12 game, but Tribisky appears unlikely to dress for it. That would make insurance important. Despite being an NFL quarterback since 2013, Bray entered Monday night having thrown just one regular-season pass. He does have extensive experience in the system Matt Nagy uses, having worked with him for multiple seasons in both Kansas City and Chicago.

Wideout J.J. Nelson also participated in the Kizer workout, according to the Chicago Tribune’s Brad Biggs (on Twitter). A teammate of Kizer’s in Oakland, Nelson played four seasons with the Cardinals and one with the Raiders.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Injury Notes: Stafford, Bridgewater, Bears

Matthew Stafford is dealing with a hand injury, but there’s hope the ailment won’t sideline the veteran. NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero reports (via Twitter) that the Lions quarterback suffered a “partial tear in a ligament in the thumb on his throwing hand.”

The team will evaluate Stafford’s ability to throw the ball throughout the week, but it’s expected that Stafford will ultimately be in uniform on Sunday against the Panthers.

2019 aside, Stafford has been remarkably durable throughout his NFL career. Prior to his season-ending injury last season, Stafford had appeared in 136 consecutive regular season contests, the sixth-longest mark in NFL history. The 32-year-old has had a solid comeback season for the 4-5-0 Lions, completing 63.7-percent of his passes for 2,403 yards, 17 touchdowns, and seven interceptions.

If Stafford were to miss any time, the Lions would likely turn to backups Chase Daniel or David Blough.

Let’s check out some more injury notes from around the league…

  • Speaking of Lions/Panthers, Teddy Bridgewater‘s MCL sprain “is consider minor,” according to Pelissero (via Twitter). The Panthers quarterback is expected to practice on a limited basis at tomorrow’s practice, and as the reporter notes, head coach Matt Rhule had previously expressed optimism that Bridgewater will play against the Lions. Bridgewater suffered the injury during the fourth quarter of his team’s loss to the Buccaneers on Sunday.
  • Despite being carted off the field yesterday, Bears quarterback Nick Foles could be available following his team’s bye. While the veteran is dealing with both hip and glute injuries, coach Matt Nagy said Foles should be alright. “It wasn’t as bad as we once thought,” Nagy said (via Gene Chamberlain of the Associated Press). “He’ll be working through that here as we go, keeping an eye on that, kind of day to day.”
  • While Foles could play against the Packers in two weeks, Nagy wasn’t so confident that backup Mitch Trubisky will be in uniform. “I think there’s a possibility, but I don’t know that for sure,” Nagy said. “I think it’s going to be day by day. I don’t know if he knows that. So we’ll just keep an eye on that.” The former second-overall pick has seen only one snap since Week 3.

Jets Beat Dolphins, Ravens, Others For Pat Elflein

The Jets, at least, have achieved something this year. On Monday, the Jets beat out five other NFL teams on the waiver wire when they picked up former Vikings offensive lineman Pat Elflein, a source tells Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The Jaguars, Bears, Dolphins, Ravens, and the Washington Football Team all tried to claim the veteran, but the Jets’ 0-9 record gave them the upper hand. 

Elflein started 15 games at guard in 2019, and he started the 2020 season opener before suffering a torn thumb ligament. That injury forced him to the injured reserve list. And, after returning to practice three weeks ago, his IR-DTR window had recently come to an end. Therefore, the Vikings had no other choice than to activate Elflein. One day later, they released the 26-year-old lineman.

The former third-rounder earned a spot on the All-Rookie Team in 2017 after starting 14 games at center for the Vikings. He played the same role in 2018, but he was switched to guard in 2019 after Minnesota drafted Garrett Bradbury in the first round of that year’s draft.

Elflein’s injury has hindered him, but he now says that he’s fully healthy. And, although his rookie contract will expire at the end of the year, the Jets will have the opportunity to evaluate him and potentially lock him up before he can reach the open market in March. The advanced metrics have never been fond of Elflein’s work, but quality linemen are in short supply, and plenty of teams were eager to take the low-cost risk before the Jets won out.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bears To Promote RB Lamar Miller

After missing the entire 2019 season and the first half of the 2020 campaign, Lamar Miller will return to regular season action. Per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, the Bears plan to promote the veteran RB from the practice squad for tomorrow night’s game against the Vikings (Twitter link).

Miller, who has put together 1,000-yard seasons for both the Dolphins and Texans in his career, earned his first Pro Bowl nod after his 2018 season with Houston, when he amassed 973 yards in just 14 games on a 4.6 YPC average. Unfortunately, he suffered an ACL tear during the 2019 preseason and was not re-signed the following year.

He hooked on with the Patriots in August, but he was released before the season began. He took visits with several clubs, including the Bears, before signing with Chicago’s taxi squad in October.

The Bears already lost Tarik Cohen for the season due to a torn ACL, and David Montgomery‘s concussion will sideline him for the matchup with Minnesota. So Miller suddenly finds himself as the top option in a backfield that needs a jolt, as Chicago is averaging a league-worst 82.3 yards per game on the ground this season.

But while the Bears are in the midst of a three-game losing streak, they are still 5-4 and in contention for a playoff berth. If Miller can replicate his 2018 performance with Houston, that will be a big boost to the Bears’ postseason push.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Coaching Rumors: Crennel, Quinn, Fitzgerald

The Texans fired head coach/general manager Bill O’Brien last month following an 0-4 start, and interim HC Romeo Crennel has righted the ship a bit. Under Crennel’s watch, Houston is 2-2, and while those two wins came against the lowly Jaguars, the Texans came within an eyelash of toppling the Titans in Week 6.

Crennel, 73, has been viewed as a placeholder for 2020, but he could retain the gig through the 2021 season, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com writes. COVID-19 restrictions will probably not permit a traditional in-person search this offseason, so teams hiring a new HC could be committing a boatload of money to a person they have never even met. As such, the Texans might stick with Crennel next season and seek their long-term answer the following year. If that happens, VP of football operations Jack Easterby may continue serving as GM.

Of course, the team has been connected to Chiefs OC Eric Bieniemy, who is a favorite of QB Deshaun Watson. Bieniemy is widely expected to secure a head coaching job this offseason regardless of travel restrictions, so if Houston wants him, it might need to take a leap of faith. And John McClain of the Houston Chronicle says the Texans will indeed hire a new GM and HC at season’s end, while fellow Houston Chronicle scribe Aaron Wilson says the search remains active (Twitter links).

Now for more a few more coaching rumors:

  • The Falcons parted ways with HC Dan Quinn earlier this season, but it doesn’t sound like Quinn will be out of work for long. Per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, several teams have made it known that they would like to have Quinn on their staff in 2021, and coordinators who might become head coaches next season have tapped Quinn as their first choice for defensive coordinator. La Canfora says Quinn could rejoin the Seahawks given Seattle’s defensive struggles this year, and he could also end up as the 49ers‘ DC if Robert Saleh gets a head coaching job.
  • Given the financial toll that the pandemic has taken on college athletic departments, top college coaches have become increasingly receptive to a jump to the NFL, as La Canfora details in a separate piece. Names like Lincoln Riley, Jim Harbaugh, and Brian Kelly, who frequently come up in offseason coaching rumors, will again be at the forefront of the discussion in 2021.
  • Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald has drawn interest from NFL teams in the past, and as of January 2019, he indicated he was not interested in NFL opportunities. However, COVID-19 might make him more receptive to an HC job in the pros, and his hometown Bears could come calling. La Canfora says Bears ownership is high on Fitzgerald, and if Chicago moves on from Matt Nagy, Fitzgerald might be on the top of the team’s wish-list.

Bears OC Bill Lazor To Call Plays

Matt Nagy will make a notable change to help jump-start the Bears’ offense Monday night. The third-year Chicago head coach is handing off play-calling responsibilities to offensive coordinator Bill Lazor.

Lazor is in his first season with the Bears, coming over after a season at Penn State. Previously, Lazor served as Bengals OC. He called Cincinnati’s plays from 2017-18. Nagy did not say Lazor would keep the play-calling reins beyond Week 10, however. The Bears HC will reassess during the team’s Week 11 bye.

The Bears have lost three straight and are careening toward slinking out of the NFC playoff race despite starting 5-1. Chicago holds a minus-12 point differential and ranks 28th in offensive DVOA. The team’s switch to Nick Foles has not made a major difference, and the Bears’ defense has been tasked with carrying a low-end offense — as it did last season when Mitchell Trubisky declined considerably.

In Lazor’s two seasons running the Bengals’ offense, they ranked 22nd and 21st in DVOA. The second mark came in just one spot behind Nagy’s first Bears offense, which went to the playoffs after the team won the NFC North that season.

The 2018 NFL Coach of the Year, Nagy came to the Bears after enjoying the opportunity to call the Chiefs’ plays for part of the 2017 season. But he will turn to Lazor, whom the Dolphins employed for barely a season as their OC from 2014-15, to help stop the Bears’ skid this week.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/12/20

Here are Thursday’s minor moves:

Chicago Bears

Indianapolis Colts

New York Jets

  • Placed on reserve/COVID-19 list: TE Travis Ross

Tennessee Titans