Bears search for boost on offense vs. Steelers
Chicago Bears coach Matt Nagy is set to return to the sidelines Monday night following a one-game absence in the NFL’s COVID-19 protocol.
A bigger boost to the Bears’ offense for their game against the host Pittsburgh Steelers, however, may arguably come in the potential return of running back David Montgomery, who was back at practice this week after mending from a knee injury he sustained in Week 4.
“He’s so eager to get back,” Nagy said. “We’ll keep an eye on where he is and we’ll see how he looks. That will be key, to see how he looks. He’s gotta tell us how he feels and then we’ll just get a feel for it’s the best thing for us and him, and if it is, and if he’s able to go and we feel good about it, he will be up and ready to rock and roll.”
Montgomery is averaging 4.5 yards per carry this season, rushing for 309 yards and three touchdowns before his injury. While Khalil Herbert (351 yards on 81 carries, 4.3 ypc) has provided similar contributions in place of Montgomery, the Bears certainly would welcome Montgomery to the fold, especially as mobile rookie quarterback Justin Fields continues his progression.
Chicago (3-5) has lost three straight following a promising start to the season, sandwiching separate, two-score home defeats around a lopsided road rout at the hands of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Steelers (4-3) have outscored opponents 65-49 during a three-game winning streak and showed resilience in rallying last week for a 15-10 victory at Cleveland. Pittsburgh placekicker Chris Boswell missed the entire second half with a concussion, and he was limited in practice Thursday.
Per the Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin is 24-4 against rookie quarterbacks since taking the reins in 2007. Fields, however, is coming off a breakout performance in Sunday’s loss to San Francisco, running for 103 yards and a touchdown while passing for 175 yards and a score.
“We’ll do our best to keep him from running the ball and then putting him in situations he’s not used to,” Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler said. “We’re going to try to make him a little uncomfortable if we can.”
Pittsburgh this week traded outside linebacker Melvin Ingram III to the Kansas City Chiefs in exchange for a sixth-round draft pick. Ingram played a limited role after signing with the Steelers in the offseason, and didn’t travel with the team to Cleveland as he battled a groin injury. He contributed one sack and 10 tackles in six games.
The Bears will aim to exploit the Steelers’ lack of depth at the position. Apart from starters T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith, rookie Derrek Tuszka was the only other outside linebacker on the active roster entering the week.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was limited in practice Thursday with pectoral and hip injuries but is expected to play. Roethlisberger threw for 266 yards and one touchdown against the Browns.
Center Kendrick Green said the offensive line in front of Roethlisberger keeps jelling.
“We do kind of see the progress coming to life,” Green said. “We’re going to keep pushing.”
Safety Eddie Jackson (hamstring) and linebacker Khalil Mack (foot) missed practice for the Bears Thursday.
–Field Level Media