Sat, 03 Dec 2022

Gabby Hajduk

Kicker Cairo Santos rejoined the Bears at Halas Hall Monday after missing Sunday's game due to an undisclosed personal issue.

"He's squared away," said coach Matt Eberflus. "His personal matter is all set and I'll let him talk about that, but everything looks good in that regard, which is outstanding."

Santos was excused from practice Thursday and Friday and was listed as questionable heading into Sunday before being ruled out hours before the game.

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To prepare for the possibility of being without Santos, the Bears signed kicker Michael Badgley to the practice squad Saturday and elevated him to the active roster the same day.

Badgley was responsible for all of the Bears' points against the Giants, making all four of his field-goal attempts at a windy MetLife Stadium.

"Badgley, what a great job by him coming in, filling in in a short notice," Eberflus said. "Obviously, you know I had him at the last place we were at for a little bit (Indianapolis). He was steady then and he was certainly steady yesterday. Credit to him, so I just want to give him that shoutout there, because he did an awesome job for our football team."

With Santos back with the team, the Bears on Monday released Badgley from the practice squad.

"We're appreciative of Michael's contributions and performance last week against the Giants," said general manager Ryan Poles. "Coming in on short notice and delivering for us the way he did was nothing short of impressive."

Knee injury will cause Whitehair to miss time

Eberflus also told reporters Monday that left guard Cody Whitehair will miss "a little bit of time" with a knee injury he sustained in the second quarter of Sunday's game. However, Eberflus expects the veteran to return at some point this season.

Lucas Patrick, who started the game at right guard, moved to Whitehair's position following the injury. Teven Jenkins, who has been rotating with Patrick at right guard the last three games, took over the spot for the remainder of the game. Eberflus said Patrick and Jenkins will stay in those spots while Whitehair is out.

Since being drafted by the Bears in 2016, Whitehair has started all but two games for the team. He is also the longest tenured offensive lineman on the team.

"The guy started 99 games and has missed two during that career, so you talk about tough, and a guy that really shows Chicago Bear toughness," Eberflus said. "That's Cody Whitehair. We're going to miss him for a little bit of time."

Run defense endures setback

The Bears defense allowed the Giants to rush for 262 yards on Sunday, the most the unit has given up this season. Saquon Barkley accounted for 146 yards on a season-high 31 carries. It was his second game this season eclipsing 100 yards on the ground.

Struggling to defend the run has been an ongoing issue for the Bears through the first four weeks of the season, ranking last in the NFL in run defense.

After the 49ers and Packers rushed for 176 and 203 yards, respectively, the Bears limited the Texans to just 92 yards on the ground. While the group showed improvement in Week 3, it took a step back in New York.

"It's technique. It's tough," Eberflus said. "The NFL's tough now. If you show something that you had, they're going to keep attacking it. So you gotta make sure that you shore those things up, and that's how the NFL is. That's what makes it so great. So we've got some work to do. We've got some work to do there."

Jackson continues to provide spark

With just under 14 minutes to play on Sunday, Giants backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor launched a deep ball down the left side of the field, targeting receiver Darius Slayton. While cornerback Kyler Gordon was in coverage, safety Eddie Jackson tracked it down and intercepted the pass at the Chicago 7 before being tackled at the 4.

"I thought that play he made was a crazy play," safety Jaquan Brisker said. "I was watching it. Watching him track it the whole way, and the catch it, I was like, 'yeah that's a great play.' Not too many people can make that play. Not too many safeties actually can make that play. That's different. Him tracking it like he's in center field playing baseball, him catching it even with the receiver right there and giving the ball back to our offense. That's a huge play. No matter what nobody says. That's great. That's great safety play."

Jackson now has three interceptions through four games, with picks against the 49ers, Texans and Giants. The veteran safety is tied with Baltimore's Marcus Williams and Pittsburgh's Minkah Fitzpatrick for the second most interceptions this season. The only player ahead of them is Buffalo's Jordan Poyer, who has four interceptions.

Brisker, who formed a close bond with Jackson when the rookie first arrived in Chicago, said the veteran's production this season has elevated the entire defensive backs group.

"For the backend, as I said, that just gives us more momentum and more swagger and things like that," Brisker said. "Teams can't try us on the backend. We're showing that on film. We're proving it. Day in, day out we're proving it. They can't touch us back there. Especially having Eddie back there in center field, he's controlling everything. He's doing what he has to do and then that's making our job easier."

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