New Bears wide receiverChase Claypoolhad a quiet debut with two catches for 13 yards against the Dolphins, but his role should grow rapidly.
Claypool arrived Wednesday morning after the Bears traded a second-round pick to land him from the Steelers, and based on his limited grasp of the playbook, he got just 26 snaps. CoachMatt Eberfluswouldn’t put a number on it, but it’s likely the Bears are looking to double that Sunday against the Lions.
“Just keep building more and more and more, and what he can handle in the game plan, we’re gonna give it to him,” Eberflus said, “He’s an exciting guy for our future here, and we’re excited for where he is.”
Claypool played 86% of the Steelers’ snaps before being traded.
It was an eventful first game with the Bears despite minimal production.
Claypool drew a pass-interference penalty on the opening drive to gain 28 yards and take the Bears into scoring range.Justin Fieldsalso threw deep for him with the game on the line in the final minutes, and Claypool couldn’t make the catch as Dolphins cornerbackKeion Crossenwrapped him up before the ball arrived.
Eberflus said “the whole stadium saw the tug and all that before the ball came in there,” and thought it was an obvious penalty by Crossen.
The Bears opted for a direct snap to tight endCole Kmeton a third-and-one against the Dolphins rather than send Fields through the pile on a quarterback sneak, and there’s a good chance they’ll do more of that going forward.
Not only is it a way for the Bears to get Kmet the ball more, which has been a struggle this season, but it saves Fields some wear. It’s also a decent idea given that Kmet is 6-foot-6, 260 pounds, compared to Fields’ leaner frame at 6-foot-3, 228.
“It’s fun,” Kmet said. “Now I realize what Justin goes through on those sneaks. You get popped on those things. So, anytime you can take some hits off Justin in those situations, that’s a good thing as well.”
Kmet also had a season-high five catches for 41 yards and two touchdowns. He has 19 catches for 200 yards and three touchdowns this season.
In addition to disagreeing with the non-call on Crossen against Claypool, Eberflus reiterated his frustration with the pass-interference flag against safetyEddie Jacksonthat handed the Dolphins 47 yards in the fourth quarter.
Tua Tagovailoachucked it deep forJaylen Waddledown the right sideline, and Jackson was penalized for bumping into Waddle as both players went for the ball. Eberflus brought it up unsolicited Monday.
“Eddie played that really nice,” he said. “I can’t really coach him up any better than that… He’s got a right to play the ball and he did play ball.”
He said the Bears would contact the league about both plays in question.
Former Bears linebackerRoquan Smithdebuted for the Ravens on Monday, a week after general managerRyan Polesdealt him for a second-round pick.
Before the game, Smith released a letter thanking Bears fans and the organization. He mentioned his appreciation for former chairmanGeorge McCaskey, general managerRyan Pace, legendDick Butkusand even the cafeteria staff — not a word about Poles and Eberflus.
“When my career is over, we’ll reminisce on all the good times we shared together in Chicago,” he wrote to fans. “I’m forever grateful for those memories.”