Fox: Bears’ an­them ap­proach works best

Chicago Sun-Times - - BEARS BEAT - BY PA­TRICK FIN­LEY Staff Re­porter Email: pfin­ley@sun­times. com

Bears coach John Fox said he’s “very im­pressed and proud” with the way his play­ers have linked arms dur­ing the na­tional an­them the last three games.

“I think all of us are bet­ter off when we’re united in what­ever we do, re­gard­less of what the is­sues are,” Fox said Thurs­day. “When things gets di­vided, you know, both sides throw gas on it. I don’t think that helps any­thing. Love goes way fur­ther than hate, at least in my ex­pe­ri­ence.”

An NFL memo dis­trib­uted to teams this week stated com­mis­sioner Roger Good­ell’s pref­er­ence that play­ers stand for the an­them. Asked whether any of his play­ers asked him to kneel, Fox was vague: “We have con­ver­sa­tions. I don’t know that we re­ally di­rected them one way or the other.”

The protests be­gan last year as a state­ment against racial and so­cial in­equal­ity. The is­sue was fur­ther politi­cized be­fore the third game of this sea­son when Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump first be­gan be­moan­ing play­ers protest­ing dur­ing the an­them.

“I think we’re foot­ball coaches and foot­ball play­ers and foot­ball staff peo­ple — I don’t think any­one is run­ning for of­fice any­where,” Fox said. “We’re here to play foot­ball. I’d rather all of our fo­cus be on that.”

Long sits, Cooper re­turns

Guard Kyle Long missed prac­tice Thurs­day, but Fox char­ac­ter­ized it as a main­te­nance day for Long’s right an­kle, which he had surgery on last Novem­ber.

“We’re just try­ing to make sure he gets to Sun­day, you know,” Fox said. “It’s not a new in­jury or any­thing.”

There was one piece of good news: Cor­ner­back Mar­cus Cooper prac­ticed for the first time since Fri­day af­ter re­cov­er­ing from back spasms. He was lim­ited, as was wide re­ceiver Markus Wheaton ( groin), cen­ter Hro­niss Grasu ( hand) and in­side line­backer Nick Kwiatkoski ( pec­toral).

De­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Vic Fan­gio didn’t sound op­ti­mistic that Kwiatkoski would play Sun­day.

“He’s only par­taken in some scout- team work this week,” Fan­gio said.

Fake news

Punter Pat O’Don­nell has a per­fect passer rat­ing af­ter his 38yard touch­down throw to Benny Cun­ning­ham on a fake Mon­day night against the Vik­ings.

“We can’t im­prove his passer rat­ing, I guess,” spe­cial- teams co­or­di­na­tor Jeff Rodgers said. “But hope­fully we don’t hurt it at some point.”

The fake gave the Ravens one more thing to scout, although their spe­cial- teams co­or­di­na­tor, Jerry Ros­burg told re­porters he doesn’t an­tic­i­pate that play be­cause “they shot one of their bul­lets.”

“Pat can throw the ball, though,” Rodgers said. “There’s cer­tain things that re­turn teams do, that de­fenses do, that when you have a guy who can throw, it cer­tainly opens up the book on how you’re able to re­act to those.”

This and that

Chris­tian Jones, who might have to start at in­side line­backer again Sun­day, looked good against the Vik­ings, Fan­gio said.

“He wasn’t per­fect by any means, but I think he’s grow­ing and im­prov­ing,” Fan­gio said.

A baseball nut, Fan­gio had ad­vice for the Cubs in ad­vance of Thurs­day night’s game: “[ An­thony] Rizzo and [ Kris] Bryant need to get the ter­mites out of their bats.”

Fol­low me on Twit­ter @ patrick­fin­ley.

| JONATHAN DANIEL/ GETTY IM­AGES

“Love goes way fur­ther than hate,” says John Fox ( cen­ter), link­ing arms with his play­ers in Green Bay.

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