LAKE FOREST – While they’ve dealt with their share of challenges during the 2019 season, the secondary may be tested more than ever this Thursday night.
That’s when the Bears welcome Dak Prescott and the Cowboys’ NFL-leading passing attack to Soldier Field for a critical contest for both team’s postseason hopes. Frankly, the Bears have to win to keep those slim chances alive, and the secondary most likely will take a hit before they even step on the field.
— Chicago Bears (@BearsPR) December 4, 2019
Starting cornerback Prince Amukamara is listed as doubtful with a hamstring injury after failing to practice the last three days, meaning the Bears will likely have to do without him as they face Dallas on Thursday night.
There wasn’t a particular play against the Lions in which Amukamara was hurt against the Lions, a which started badly for the cornerback as he allowed Kenny Golladay to get open on a 75-yard touchdown on the first series. He would finish the game with five tackles and one pass deflection in a 24-20 Bears’ win that improved them to 6-6 on the season.
Buster Skrine or Kevin Toliver are expected to fill in for Amukamara against the Cowboys – and either one will have a challenge.
Prescott currently leads the NFL in passing yardage with 3,788 yards with 23 touchdowns compared to 11 interceptions as the offense has averaged 25.8 points per game. Amari Cooper is one of the better receivers in the league, catching 64 passes for 971 yards (15.2 per catch average) with seven touchdowns on the season, giving a number of things for the Bears’ secondary to think about on Thursday.
“He’s a heckuva player and we’ll have our hands full,” said Bears defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano of Prescott. “Not only stopping the run, but he’s great in the pocket, he’s great outside the pocket, and he can make all the throws.”
The quarterback gets a lot of help from Ezekiel Elliott, who causes a number of problems for opposing defenses. While not quite as prolific as last season, the fourth-year running back is still having success running the ball (990 yards, 4.7 per carry average, seven touchdowns) and catching it (39 catches, 326 yards, TD) in helping the Cowboys pursue an NFC East title.
“He’s a challenge for the defense, and a challenge for the league,” said Bears inside linebacker Roquan Smith. “A guy that does the things that he does throughout this league and throughout his career, I have a lot of respect for that.”
Now they’ll have to find a way to stop him, Prescott, and the Cowboys’ offense if they hope to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.