LAKE FOREST – Chase Claypool arrived in Chicago around 7:45 on Wednesday morning and there was already a buzz at Halas Hall around the newly-acquired wide receiver.
At 6-foot-4, 238 pounds, Claypool provides the Bears offense with a big-bodied target for quarterback Justin Fields.
“I was excited of course,” Fields said about his reaction to Tuesday’s big trade. “He’s a play-maker, a big body, athletic, fast. A great 50/50 ball catcher. I was excited of course. And just seeing what he can do at practice, the different things that we do at practice, the routes that we give him. Just practicing with him and getting to throw with him a little bit, that will just help me find out what he’s best at doing.”
Bears coach Matt Eberflus said that he and his coaching staff were excited about the versatility that Claypool can bring to the offense.
“We like big targets because they’re viable on third down, situations, gold zone, those guys are viable and they’re always open because of their catch radius,” Eberflus said. “So we were certainly like that with a lot of other guys, so you have bigger targets in the gold zone, so we’re excited about that.”
Another area that should create some excitement is Claypool’s ability to make explosive plays, specifically on vertical routes down the field.
The Bears this season have had only 19 explosive pass plays (20+ yards), which is tied for the third-fewest in the league.
Claypool has created multiple explosive plays in seven of his 39 career games. But in 14 games he didn’t create a receiving play that went over 20 yards and four of those have come this season. Claypool did mention that he was playing more in Pittsburgh’s slot in 2022 and mentioned “it wasn’t quite the best fit,” but it did help him “in terms of playing all three positions on the field.”
For this Bears offense, Claypool most likely will be playing in several different positions, which is what offensive coordinator Luke Getsy has been asking all his receivers to do this season. And the faster Claypool can get the playbook down, the sooner Fields will get to utilize his new weapon.
Eberflus won’t put any lofty expectations for the new wide receiver and will just “let it play out” with nine games remaining this season. As for Claypool, he is looking forward to capitalizing on this new opportunity.
“I’m a playmaker and I’m excited to make plays,” Claypool said. “I feel like I didn’t have the full opportunity to show what I can do this year, but I think I’ve been able to show that in the past. I’m excited to be able to gain that trust with Justin, too, where he knows if he needs a play he can come to me and, frankly, any receiver out there. So … a dynamic playmaker is the guy that the Bears are getting.”
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