LAKE FOREST — The Chicago Bears offensive line was banged up in last Saturday’s 35-13 loss to the Bills.
Cody Whitehair and Teven Jenkins were forced to miss the Week 16 matchup due to injuries. Throughout the game, Dieter Eiselen filled in for Micheal Schofield for a few snaps at right guard when he hurt his thumb, and then rotated with Larry Borom at left guard.
Simply put, it wasn’t an ideal situation for Justin Fields.
But against the Lions at Ford Field this Sunday, the line will have Whitehair and Jenkins back at their respective guard positions.
“Relative to the health of our offensive line, Cody’s been going all week, he’s done a really nice job,” Bears coach Matt Ebeflus said. “Teven’s done a really good job. So it’s good to be back to full strength in there.”
The timing couldn’t be better, especially since the Bears will face a Lions defense that gave up 320 yards rushing to the Carolina Panthers a week before. From Eberflus’ perspective, the Panthers’ rushing success was a byproduct of a few simple things.
“Yeah, I think the Panthers did a good job of executing,” Eberflus said. “You know they really did a nice job. They had some good schemes in there. You know and again it comes down to fundamentals. I’m sure that the other coach would say, ‘hey, it’s all 11. It comes down to the fundamentals.’ And that’s what I saw.”
Eberflus also mentioned the Lions have been playing well against the run outside of last week and that Detroit should be able to make some adjustments going into Sunday’s game against the Bears.
In the last three wins for the Lions, Detroit has only given up a combined 167 rushing yards. But in last week’s loss to Carolina, Panthers running back D’Onta Foreman had a career day against the Lions — rushing for 165 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries.
Bears fullback Khari Blasingame was Foreman’s teammate while they were with the Titans. Blasingame and other members of the Bears running back room watched the cut ups of Foreman’s performance against the Panthers.
“When you watch him, I mean did a really good job of pressing his blocks,” Blasingame said. “He’s running hard. He’s explosive. I mean they just played really well and executed their plans.”
The Bears will strive to do the same against the Lions. In the first meeting in Week 10 at Soldier Field, the Bears finished with 258 rushing yards in the 31-30 loss. Fields finished with 147 rushing yards and two touchdown runs, including a career-long 67-yard rushing score.
With Chase Claypool and Dante Pettis listed as questionable going into Sunday’s game, this should mean the trio rushing attack of David Montgomery, Khalil Herbert and Fields will be on full display. Against the Bills, the Bears finished with just 80 yards rushing. Montgomery had 62 himself, while Field was held to a season-low 11 yards.
But that ground game should become a lot more effective now that the Bears will be back to full strength on the O-line, which brings confidence to the entire offensive group.
“I mean it does a lot, man,” Blasingame said. “We got good guys coming back. We’re glad to have everybody back there and everybody healthy.”