Bears notebook: WR Chase Claypool’s role expands in 31-10 loss to Jets

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — One of the Bears’ most urgent projects is getting relatively new wide receiver Chase Claypool more involved in the offense, but they haven’t seemed to be in much of a hurry to do it.

By the way, how long can someone be called the new guy? Claypool is almost a month into his Bears career and played his fourth game for them Sunday as they fell 31-10 to the Jets.

Claypool appeared to be a bigger part of the game plan and got a team-high five targets. He turned that into two catches for 51 yards, which wasn’t bad considering quarterback Trevor Siemian managed to complete just 14 of 25 passes for 179.

Claypool had just 32 yards on five catches over his first three games.

“I’m feeling more comfortable in the offense, and they’re getting me some looks, like they always have been,” he said. “Sometimes it works out, and sometimes it doesn’t.”

It worked out very well for him on the Bears’ second possession of the game. On first down from their own 29-yard line, they got the Jets to bite on play action, and Claypool slipped uncovered into the second level of the defense for a 20-yard catch.

Siemian went back to him on a deep shot down the right sideline a few plays later, and Claypool made a terrific catch over rookie cornerback Sauce Gardner. The ball was underthrown, but Claypool turned back for it, bobbled it for a moment, then secured it for a 31-yard catch despite the rain and Gardner committing pass interference.

That got the Bears to the Jets’ 9-yard line, and they scored a touchdown a few plays later to take a 10-7 lead.

That was it for Claypool — and for the offense as a whole. Siemian completed 7 of 16 passes for 59 yards the rest of the way.

Claypool also had a scare in the fourth quarter with an apparent knee injury, but said it was just a “tweak” and he could’ve stayed in the game if needed.

“It could’ve been the turf,” he said. “We’re gonna see how it feels [Monday]. It could just be sore.”

Pringle’s play

Wide receiver Byron Pringle was one of the Bears’ more notable free-agent pickups, but they haven’t gotten much from him because of injuries.

Pringle had two catches for 12 yards, including a tough one in the end zone for his first touchdown. Siemian threw a wobbly ball that looked like it was going to be broken up by cornerback D.J. Reed, but Pringle reached over him to wrest the catch.

Pringle has five catches for 57 yards in six games.

Injury concerns

The Bears dealt with injuries all day, but their trouble went beyond losing Darnell Mooney and Eddie Jackson.

Claypool’s situation merits monitoring, and so does fellow receiver Equanimeous St. Brown’s. St. Brown appeared to hurt his right leg late in the game, though the Bears did not report an injury. St. Brown has played the second-most snaps among wide receivers and has 14 catches for 195 yards and a touchdown.

The Bears also lost starting right tackle Riley Reiff to a shoulder injury, which sent them back to Larry Borom. Borom also missed time with a leg injury and was replaced briefly by guard Michael Schofield.

Bears special teamer Dane Cruikshank also reinjured the hamstring that has been hindering him.

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