Chicago Bears coach John Fox spoke with reporters in Cincinnati on Wednesday.
Here are five things he had to say about his team’s matchup with the Bengals on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium.
1. He is happy to have Mike Nugent on his roster.
The Bears signed the former Bengals kicker this week after putting Cairo Santos on injured reserve.
The Centerville native and former Ohio State star was a free agent after spending some time earlier this year with the Giants and Cowboys.
“We’re fortunate he was out there,” Fox said. “I’ve been impressed. We had him in for a workout and just completed our practice today. I thought he had a good day so we’re excited and we feel fortunate to have him.”
2. Tarik Cohen is a unique weapon.
A rookie from North Carolina A&T, Cohen leads the Bears with 39 catch for 306 yards. He has also rushed for 267 yards and has a 61-yard punt return for a touchdown.
A 5-foot-6, he reminds Fox of another multitalented running back who was vertically challenged: Darren Sproles.
“He’s a unique young man as far as a skillset and as a guy, too. He’s well respected on our team and probably by most of our opponents.”
3. The Bears running game presents a problem for Cincinnati.
OK, Fox did not actually put it that way — that would sound too much like bulletin board material — but he has good reason to feel good about where this unit stands entering the last quarter of the season.
Chicago is tied for 12th in the NFL in rushing yards per game while the Bengals defense is 28th.
“I think it’s important,” Fox said. “Cincinnati’s defensive front is obviously a very talented group, so that will be tough. A lot of time the run game is based on matchups and who you have available and what they’re about. We jus know this will be a big challenge for us this Sunday.”
4. That running game helps keep pressure off Mitch Trubisky.
“I think our philosophy is it starts up front,” Fox continued. “The ability to run the ball might be a quarterback’s best friend, and we have a rookie quarterback starting the last eight games. This will be his ninth.”
That would be Mitchell Trubisky, the No. 2 pick in the draft in April out of North Carolina.
He enters the week with a quarterback rating of 74.6, good for 29th in the league this season.
5. Where they are in the standings shouldn’t matter as far as motivation.
While the Bears have been eliminated from playoff contention, the Bengals are two games back with four to play and in need of a lot of help to get in, but going out on a high note should be a focus for both regardless.
“This part of the season is a challenge every year, good or bad,” Fox said. “People remember what you do in December whether you’re right in the thick of things or not. I always call it, ‘Finish strong, not wrong.’
“Our guys understand that and I’m sure (Coach Marvin Lewis’) Bengals do as well. These guys have a lot of pride and they’re professionals. I’m sure they’re hard at work just like we are.”
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