Refreshed Bears Set Sights On Stretch Run

November 27, 2018 - 1:49 pm

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (670 The Score) -- The Bears returned to Halas Hall on Tuesday and the piles of snow dropped by Winter Storm Bruce while they were away. 

For players like defensive lineman Akiem Hicks and receiver Javon Wims returning from the sunshine of Miami, it was a rude greeting back from their self-proclaimed "mini-bye" of the last four days. But tackling the weather conditions was a bit easier after being refreshed by a brief time away from football.

Following the Bears' three victories in 12 days, many players left the area while some others stayed back and rested. Hicks got treatment in South Florida and Wims surprised his mother with a car, while Chase Daniel hosted his fellow quarterbacks for Thanksgiving dinner. 

At 8-3 and leading the NFC North, the Bears returned to work eager for the opportunity ahead in the five remaining regular-season games.

"It feels good," receiver Allen Robinson said. "That's what we came out here to set out to do. We came here to win games. Being able to be here at 8-3 is big.

"We set ourselves up to be in a good position. Now it's about finishing that."

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The Bears own a 1.5-game lead over the Vikings (6-4-1) in the NFC North, with the Packers' divisional hopes nearly extinguished as they've fallen to 4-6-1.

After a road game against the Giants (3-8) this Sunday, the Bears then host the Rams (10-1) and Packers in the ensuing two weeks before visiting the 49ers (2-9). The Bears have one game remaining against the Vikings, a regular-season finale matchup that they'd like to make moot by clinching the division beforehand.

"For us, it's just about taking it one week at a time," Robinson said. "That's the biggest thing for the team, is not looking too far ahead. Our main is to win the division. We still got division opponents, we still got to take it week by week, because every game counts. The better you play, the better you got to play in this league. This late in the season, every game is important."

Newcomers like Robinson are part of a different Bears culture. After Chicago went 14-34 over the last three seasons, these Matt Nagy-led Bears expect to win and have set a higher standard.

Winning is a refreshing change for some Bears who experienced much of the last three seasons. It's rejuvenating, much like a weekend off from football.

"It's definitely been fun," said running back Jordan Howard, who has embraced a reduced workload for the sake of the team. "Just winning. My first two years, we didn't win much. We definitely surpassed the win total already. It's definitely been fun.

"It means a lot. It's hard losing. We had a lot of close games the past two years but couldn't pull them out for whatever reason. So, it definitely feels good to win, because we're playing important games now."

The Bears will return to practice Wednesday after having a team lift in the Walter Payton Center on Tuesday. Injured players like quarterback Mitchell Trubisky (right shoulder) will be evaluated by team medical personnel Tuesday, and the Bears will begin formulating a plan from there.

There's certainly confidence in the backup Daniel after he led the Bears to victory against the Lions last Thursday. Facing a struggling team in the Giants, the Bears could proceed with caution and give Trubisky a second week to rehab his injured shoulder -- especially with key games remaining from there. Nagy wasn't available to reporters Tuesday but did answer "we'll see" when asked on WBBM Newsradio on Monday about Trubisky's status.

Nagy made his message clear after the win over the Lions last week and just before the Bears took their break: Rest up and be ready for what's ahead. After all, the division crown is theirs for the taking.

"We have a very resilient team," Robinson said. "Everybody knows that it's about winning games. It's not about any particular individual. We all are in this together."

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.​​