Bears notebook: Velus Jones getting closer to NFL debut

Bears Rookie wide receiver Velus Jones is doubtful with a hamstring injury and is not expected to play Sunday against the Texans. But the third-round draft pick from Tennessee is getting closer to returning after participating in practice on a limited basis for the second consecutive day Friday.

‘I’ve been praying on it. I feel close,” Jones said. “Today [Friday] was a good day — running and stuff like that. But just looking at everything one day at a time.”

Jones was hampered by the recurring hamstring issue in training camp. He had a 48-yard punt return and a 31-yard kickoff return against the Seahawks in the preseason, but was sidelined again with the hamstring injury the following week.

He practiced last week on Wednesday, but sat out practice the next two days. This week he did not practice on Wednesday but was active Thursday and Friday.

“It’s a great feeling to be out there with your brothers,” Jones said. “Just to be in the same atmosphere with them, grinding with them individually [drills]. It’s an amazing feeling. That’s definitely a changer — make me feel a whole lot better about myself.”

Injury report growing

Jones was the only player on the final injury report before the Packers game last week. There are six players on it this week: cornerback Jaylon Johnson (quad), linebacker Matt Adams (hamstring) and safety Dane Cruikshank (hamstring) are out. Linebacker Roquan Smith (hip) and tight end Ryan Griffin (achilles) are questionable.

Gordon’s Rookie Trials

Rookie cornerback Kyler Gordon’s perseverance will be put to the test Sunday after the second-round draft pick had a tough night against the Packers last week.

“With any player and of course rookies, that does happen,” Coach Matt Eberflus said. “You have up games and down games. A lot of times it’s a step up for rookies, playing in the pro game. It takes some time. But he’s certainly talented enough [and] mentally tough enough to get that done.”

Eberflus said Gordon’s issue was more about fundamentals than rookie mistakes.

“It’s basic Fundamentals that he can clean up, that we looked at in detail,” Eberflus said, “It could be from footwork to the fundamental tackling to a lot of things. And we detailed them out for him and he’s excited about putting those into practice in the game [Sunday].”

Respect for Lovie, but…

Texans Coach Lovie Smith will return to the Soldier Field sidelines for the first time since 2014, when he was coaching the Buccaneers and lost to the Bears 21-13. Smith was 81-63 (3-3 in the playoffs) with a Super Bowl berth in nine seasons with the Bears.

Although neither Eberflus nor defensive coordinator Alan Williams worked on the same staff as Smith, they have a connection as part of the Tony Dungy coaching tree.

“I have respect and admiration for him,” Williams said. “Love that he’s a head coach in the NFL again — that part of it I’m proud of. Excited for him.

“But at the end of the day, I would say this: He’s the opponent across the field and he’s trying to come into our house and take what we have. So with that in mind, we’re going to do everything we can to make sure he goes away with a frown on his face.”

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