Sunday, September 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bears get healthier in standings, on field before facing Bucs

LAKE FOREST, Ill. — Bears coach John Fox watched the NFC North race tighten during his team's bye week.

Whether it means anything in the long run for the last-place Bears depends largely on whether they healed enough during their time away and can overcome several problems both on offense and defense to make a second-half run.

"Obviously we could use a little help," Fox said Monday at Halas Hall. Sunday "might have been some. I won't know until I kind of see what we do."

The first-place Vikings lost their third straight, an overtime defeat to the Lions. Green Bay also fell, and the Bears have games left with each division opponent.

The Bears are haunted by games lost in the fourth quarter to Indianapolis and Jacksonville, or they'd be in the mix.

"Well I think again you can spend a lot of time looking in the rear view mirror," Fox said. "Even driving your car, if you spend too much time looking back then you wreck.

"So our focus is in front of us now."

The Bears are at Tampa on Sunday and anticipate a handful of injured starters returning to the lineup. They won't know more on the injury front until Wednesday, but the possibility exists that guards Josh Sitton (ankle) and Kyle Long (tricep), nose tackle Eddie Goldman (ankle) and cornerback Bryce Callahan will be able to start.

"I think it's a huge boost," Fox said. "As I mentioned before, if you look at what's happened to us in the first half, just at the quarterback position, it's enough to cripple a lot of teams."

Quarterback Jay Cutler returned after missing five starts to lead a victory over the Vikings Oct. 31.

They could also get back wide receiver Marquess Wilson. He has been on the physically unable to perform list since training camp with a foot injury. Monday, his evaluation period for a return began.

"Obviously getting two Pro Bowl guards back is helpful," Fox said, referring to Sitton and Long. "I think the receiver position gets a little deeper, as well as the punt returning. In the secondary, I think Bryce Callahan's been kinda hit or miss through the first half, or part of the first half. That makes us healthier in a lot of spots."

Long took note of all the players at practice who formerly had been populating the trainer's room.

"A lot of people certainly took advantage of the break," Long said. "They did what they needed to do to get their bodies right."

It would be the first time for Goldman since Week 2, when he suffered a high ankle sprain against the Eagles.

"I know we haven't won a lot, but the wins we did have, I sat out on," Goldman said. "That's the toughest part, is watching your team play and rally and you're just sitting on the sidelines watching."

Fox pointed to other problems beyond injuries that need to be fixed.

The offense struggled in the red zone and ranks 22nd at scoring touchdowns from inside the 20-yard line. The defense struggled on third downs early, but has since improved to eighth (36.7 percent).

"We are what we are and right now," Fox said. "We could (finish) 10-6 or 2-14. That's the reality math-wise. I hope we're moving more toward the first one I mentioned.

"We've got our whole half of a season left. It's like the second half of a game. A lot can happen."

Comments
Sound-Smarter-Than-Your-Friends Guide to Steelers-Buccaneers: Where is Ronald Jones?

Sound-Smarter-Than-Your-Friends Guide to Steelers-Buccaneers: Where is Ronald Jones?

One of the dominant storylines heading into Monday Night Football between the first-place Buccaneers and the last-place Steelers will be the things we didn’t expect to see. It’s the team that usually melts down against the team that actua...
Updated: 10 minutes ago
McFarland on FitzMagic: ‘Play the guy with the hot hand’

McFarland on FitzMagic: ‘Play the guy with the hot hand’

TAMPA — Why wait until Monday Night Football? We got former Bucs defensive tackle Booger McFarland, the field analyst for the ESPN crew, to break down the Bucs-Steelers matchup. In his straight-forward, brutally honest style, McFarland dissects...
Updated: 5 hours ago
How Booger McFarland rose from a Tampa FM station to ‘Monday Night Football’

How Booger McFarland rose from a Tampa FM station to ‘Monday Night Football’

TAMPA — When Booger McFarland auditioned for the new Monday Night Football broadcast team, producer Jay Rothman was blown away."I closed my eyes and said, 'Holy (bleep), I feel like I'm listening to football's Charles Barkley,'' Rothman said.Si...
Published: 09/22/18
Bucs have to be ‘reasonable,’ about their plan to play defensive tackle Vita Vea

Bucs have to be ‘reasonable,’ about their plan to play defensive tackle Vita Vea

Defensive tackle Vita Vea made it through practice this week, his first since straining his left calf muscle July 29. But coach Dirk Koetter was pretty non-committal about how much, or if, Vea will play Monday night against the Steelers."When you've ...
Published: 09/22/18

How Tampa Bay is savoring its FitzMagic carpet ride

TAMPA — Bucs fan Dallas Collins has it all planned out.On Monday night, he and his family are going to whip up an Irish Boiled Dinner. You know, corned beef, carrots, potatoes, cabbage and onions.Then they're going to sit down and watch the Buc...
Published: 09/22/18
Bucs PK Chandler Catanzaro insists he’s curse-free

Bucs PK Chandler Catanzaro insists he’s curse-free

TAMPA — When placekicker Chandler Catanzaro missed a 44-yard field goal in the fourth quarter at New Orleans and a point-after attempt last week against the Eagles, he left the door open for a possible comeback by the Saints and Eagles.The Bucs...
Published: 09/21/18
Ryan Fitzpatrick said his only goal was to go 3-0 while Jameis Winston was suspended

Ryan Fitzpatrick said his only goal was to go 3-0 while Jameis Winston was suspended

TAMPA — Shortly after he learned he would be starting the first three games this season, Ryan Fitzpatrick saw the opportunity to do something few thought would be possible.No, not take Jameis Winston's job.The Bucs starting quarterback was susp...
Published: 09/21/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Mailbag: Bucs-Steelers, Vita Vea, Rays’ playoff chances, more

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Mailbag: Bucs-Steelers, Vita Vea, Rays’ playoff chances, more

It's our mailbag episode, with questions about how many games the Bucs can win this season, the reason for their offensive explosion and what we can expect from Vita Vea this week against the Steelers.Plus, what moves should the Rays make this offsea...
Published: 09/21/18
FitzMagic is everywhere, even in Cleveland

FitzMagic is everywhere, even in Cleveland

It feels like there's FitzMagic in the air everywhere these days, even in Cleveland.When Baker Mayfield came off the bench Thursday night to lead the Browns to a 21-17 win over the Jets — Cleveland's first victory in 635 days — he became ...
Published: 09/21/18
Bucs DT Vita Vea, CB Brent Grimes return to practice, could play vs. Steelers

Bucs DT Vita Vea, CB Brent Grimes return to practice, could play vs. Steelers

TAMPA — For the first time in seven weeks, Vita Vea played football Thursday.At least it looked like the rookie defensive tackle was playing football when he walked to the Bucs' practice field wearing a helmet and full pads and took a three-poi...
Published: 09/20/18