Courtney CroninESPN staff writer3 minutes to read
Claypool was targeted twice by quarterback Justin Fields, and both passes resulted in incompletions. It was his perimeter blocking efforts — which resulted in multiple missed plays and hampered the Bears’ short passing game — that were the subject of criticism on social media after videos of an apparent lack of effort on the part of the receiver went viral.
This was also a topic of conversation between Claypool and Bears coach Matt Eberflus after Chicago’s 38-20 loss in the season opener.
“You all saw the plays that… again, it was necessary to improve the perimeter barrier for all of us,” Eberflus said. “We will achieve that, and we are working hard to achieve that.”
Claypool practiced without restrictions during the two weeks leading up to the Packers game after injuring his hamstring in early August. Although he visited the injury tent twice against Green Bay, his suffering was not due to injury, according to Eberflus.
The Bears coach said Claypool “showed good coaching technique” in his blocking, which is why the coaches put him in position to do so against Green Bay. Chicago wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown, known for his blocking, is inactive for the first week as a healthy scratch.
“He’s a big blocker for us,” Fields said of St. Brown. “He’s always been that way since last year and he knows the playbook like the back of his hand. He’s really smart. I think he’s a leader in the receiving room. So just that part. Blocking the perimeter, he’s really good at that. I think ‘maybe that’s the only thing we’ve missed . “I don’t really make those calls, so it’s not really a question for me.”
Eberflus left all options on the table when asked if the Bears would consider making Claypool inactive against the Buccaneers.
He added: “We are looking at all possibilities now.” “I’m not going to talk about who’s going up or down in the game right now, for obvious reasons. We’re looking at all the things to make our team better — who’s going up and who’s down in terms of the active roster.”
The stakes are high for the Bears and Claypool to put the wide receiver on the right track. Chicago sent the No. 32 pick in the draft to Pittsburgh for Claypool last November, and his production hasn’t paid off. In eight games with the Bears, including the opener, Claypool totaled 14 catches for 140 yards.
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