The 2-4 Chicago Bears will play the 3-3 New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium in a Week 7 matchup on “Monday Night Football.” Here’s what you need to know before kickoff (7:15 p.m., ESPN).
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Wide receiver N’Keal Harry will make his Bears debut after missing the first six games with an ankle injury that required surgery in August.
Harry was cleared to play last week but wasn’t active after a short week of practice for a Thursday night game. Now with another week under his belt, he’ll debut against his former team. The Patriots drafted Harry in the first round in 2019 and dealt him to the Bears in June for a 2024 seventh-round pick.
Inactive for the Bears are defensive back Lamar Jackson, defensive lineman Kingsley Jonathan, tight end Jake Tonges and wide receiver Isaiah Coulter.
Patriots quarterback Mac Jones will return from a three-game absence due to a high ankle sprain and reportedly is expected to start.
Jones was limited in practice all week, but the Bears were confident the Patriots offense wouldn’t change much whether Jones or rookie Bailey Zappe started.
Inactive for the Patriots are cornerback Shaun Wade, defensive tackle Christian Barmore, wide receiver Kendrick Bourne, safety Joshuah Bledsoe, linebacker Josh Uche, running back Kevin Harris and offensive tackle Isaiah Wynn.
Matt Eberflus dropped enough hints during the Bears’ review of the first six games that it wouldn’t be a surprise if they were to make a change on the offensive line.
The most likely scenario is Michael Schofield taking over at left guard with Lucas Patrick sliding over to center and Sam Mustipher heading to the sideline.
There are also questions about the team’s punt returner duties. Special teams coordinator Richard Hightower declined to say Friday whether Velus Jones Jr. would retain his job. But Hightower made it clear an in-season competition has become necessary, listing receiver Dante Pettis, defensive back Josh Blackwell and, yes, even safety Eddie Jackson as candidates to jump in.
‘Just got to work harder’
The time off gave Bears QB Justin Fields time to assess an opening six-week stretch in which he completed 63 of 115 passes for 869 yards, four touchdowns, five interceptions and a 72.7 passer rating with 23 sacks.
“(I found) that I can play better, and I’m always going to be like that,” he said. “I’m a perfectionist, but it’s hard to be perfect. I can get better at everything regarding quarterback play.”
Latest news from Arlington Heights
Arlington Heights village leaders promised concerned citizens a say in the impact the Bears’ proposed NFL stadium development may have on the village if the Bears move ahead with redeveloping the former Arlington International Racecourse site.
Mayor Tom Hayes promised two residents who, at the Village Board meeting, voiced concerns about the football team’s proposal that they “and other members of the public will have a full and fair opportunity to provide input before any votes are taken.”
Miss anything this week? Catch up before kickoff.