Bears Could Really Use Byron Pringle About Now
The passing game is at the forefront in the mind of Bears coach Matt Eberflus.
It’s not quarterback Justin Fields or even the game Saturday with Cleveland he’s concerned about. It’s the regular-season opener, and it’s his receivers.
In particular, it’s Byron Pringle he would like to see practicing soon.
“Obviously, the sooner the better,” Eberflus said. “The sooner the better, we’ll feel more comfortable.”
Pringle has been out since early in the month with a quad injury. Pringle has been visible at times with a group of players working off on the side on stationary bikes, but he hasn’t started practicing.
“He’s gotta get in there and get the game plan and get ready to go,” Eberflus said. “We’re hopeful that he can do that. We’ll see where he is and we’ll see what the training staff says.”
It was unusual to hear Eberflus so forthcoming about an injury situation and anxious about a player. His M.O. so far has been not to talk about injuries, or out of sight and out of mind.
Pringle was expected to be the No. 2 receiver. Equanimeous St. Brown has inherited that rank without Pringle able to practice.
Scroll to Continue
Wide receiver N’Keal Harry remains out, as well, but Harry had surgery and is not expected back until near the end of September. They’re also without receiver Tajae Sharpe for what is an unspecified day-to-day injury.
Some positions could be easier for players to come back and play after being away a while, but if they are no one has told Eberflus. In his mind, it’s definitely not receiver.
“I think they’re all hard,” Eberflus said. “I think when you lose time (working) on the grass, I told the guys that are out, even Harry, that, ‘hey, you’ve got to stay locked in to the game plan.’
You really do.
“You have to have visualization during the course at night to go through the plays to make sure you know how to align, how to assign and how to do your job on that particular play. Those guys have gotta be on it mentally when they’re here in the building, but also at night to do the plays at night, too, in their mind.”
The Bears have next week when they make their cuts, following the preseason finale. It’s a bye week made available when the league eliminated the fourth preseason game last year.
Then, they’ll be in game week. Sometime between now and then is when Eberflus would like to know he can count on his No. 2. They had only seven wide receivers on the field at Thursday’s final preseason practice.
Against the Browns, Eberflus is expecting specific things from Fields during his one half of play.
“Just poise, execution, running the offense, having command, presence out there, him doing his thing and then we’re just excited to get him more (plays) in there, more comfortable,” Eberflus said. “He’s a young player. This is a big-game experience for him that he’s gonna have prior to the start of the season, and he’s excited about it.”
The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.