Joniak: For Bears, Journey To London A Business Trip

The Bears play the Raiders at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday.

Jeff Joniak
October 03, 2019 - 4:07 pm
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LAKE FOREST, Ill. (WBBM Newsradio) --  The Bears (3-1) are continuing preparations to face the Raiders (2-2) at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London on Sunday. Here are the news and notes from Halas Hall on Thursday.

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-- The injury report remained unchanged from Wednesday, with six players not practicing: quarterback Mitchell Trubisky (shoulder), defensive lineman Akiem Hicks (knee), receiver Taylor Gabriel (concussion), defensive tackle Bill Nichols (hand), guard Ted Larsen (knee) and linebacker Joel Iyiegbuniwe (hamstring). Guard Kyle Long remained limited with a sore hip.

-- Long grew up around the Raiders, given his Hall of Fame dad Howie's career in Oakland. "It’s a unique opportunity for a lot of us who haven’t seen the world," Long said of the trip to London. "At the end of the day, you’re going to win a football game. I’m hoping I blink my eyes, we get a win and I’m back home in my bed." The expectation is Long will be active Sunday.

-- Long thinks it's cool to be making the trip. "Growing up in Charlottesville, Virginia and playing football, I never thought I would see the day where I would be taking a flight to London to play a football game," Long said.

-- Coach Matt Nagy has told his players to trick their minds for the overseas trip to London. He reminded the players that when they leave Thursday night, it will actually be midnight in London. "You have to trick your mind into saying it’s time to go to bed on the plane," Nagy said. The Bears land on Friday morning in London, and they will have meetings and an afternoon practice. Nagy is planning to "spice up" the practice to give them a little more energy. 

-- Nagy revealed few details on who's traveling with the team to London when it leaves Thursday evening. That included Trubisky. Nagy didn't say if he'll make the trip or stay back in Chicago to focus on rehabbing his injury.  

-- Hicks wanted to play against the Vikings last Sunday, but the medical staff felt better about resting his cranky knee. He will likely be a game-time decision against the Raiders. 

-- Linebacker Roquan Smith loves playing football. He loves the Bears and his teammates. I'm certain he didn't want to miss the win against the Vikings on Sunday, when he sat out for personal reasons. I'm certain he wants to start against the Raiders in London.  Nagy isn't ready to say if he will. "Again, I'm going to leave it at completely personal issue and I'm not going to get into any details on that," Nagy said. Smith was a full participant in practice again Thursday.

-- Receiver Allen Robinson is elevating his game. “"He’s playing fast," Nagy said. "He’s playing with confidence. He’s a guy that our quarterbacks trust. When you have that, a lot of times we like to say when he’s covered, he’s not covered."

-- Nagy credited receivers coach Mike Furrey for developing those he oversees. "Coach Furrey has done an amazing job with that receiver group," Nagy said. "They’re all growing, and they all believe in each other. And so when you have that type of room, for me as a play-caller, it helps when somebody goes down, next guy steps up and you have ultimate confidence."

-- Reserve veteran linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis earned Nagy’s Sweep the Sheds award this week. It's given to a Bears player each week who may not being recognized much on the stat sheet but whose contributions the team highly values. "He was a perfect fit for that," Nagy said. "Between defense and special teams and the way he handled himself, he ended up being deserving."

-- Bears offensive tackle Charles Leno has visited London as a tourist. While he usually focuses on fun when traveling, this trip is about business. "This is a trip that you want to have for an offseason trip," Leno said. "I am going to treat it as a business trip. Can’t wait to get there. Get in, get some rest, wake up, play the game. That’s all."

-- The Raiders are a tough group up front and play with some serious effort, Leno said. The Raiders have jumped on teams early. Oakland is tied for third in the NFL in first-quarter scoring. 

-- As the team comedian, Bears running back Tarik Cohen indicated he may venture out to Buckingham Palace to break The Queen’s Guard during the changing of the Guard -- if he can find some teammates to go with him. Stoic and unbreakable, the guards will be a challenge for Cohen, who feels his humor will be enough to make one smile. The guards dress in traditional red tunics and bearskin hats.

-- Defensive lineman Nick Williams has had a good first month of the season. He has four sacks and is emerging on a defense that's deep and talented. Well-respected by his teammates, Williams has had a winding journey to the NFL and is stepping up as he gets great coaching from defensive line coach Jay Rodgers.

Jeff Joniak is the play-by-play announcer for the Bears broadcasts on WBBM Newsradio 780 & 105.9 FM. Follow him on Twitter @JeffJoniak.