LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP)Chicago Bears quarterback Tyson Bagent had reporters laughing Sunday after he led a 30-12 win in his starting debut against the Las Vegas Raiders.
The former Division II player hadn’t completed a pass longer than 17 yards as the Bears stuck to their short game, but he said he has a “cannon” for an arm.
It seems the Bears could let him show off his arm strength Sunday night in his first road start against the Los Angeles Chargers.
“Yeah, I mean I think I have a strong arm,” Bagent said Wednesday at Halas Hall. “I’m confident to make any play that’s called. That’s probably the extent of it.”
Bagent starts again because of Justin Fields’ dislocated thumb, after going 21 for 29 for 162 yards and a touchdown in the win.
Upon film review, NFL NextGen Stats said he averaged 2.1 air yards on his completions. But Bagent and coach Matt Eberflus expect their offense to be challenged more on short passes this week, so there may be a need to go up top.
“We’re always going to look to stretch vertically and horizontally in the passing game,” Eberflus said. “That’s always something that we look at.
“Really, you look at the defense that you’re playing. If they give you those opportunities vertically, you’re going to take those.”
Like his arm, Bagent’s story as an undrafted passer from Shepherd University is about to get a great deal of national attention because of the prime-time game with the Chargers.
Nothing seems to faze him.
“He’s been the same guy,” Eberflus said. “He’s the same guy as he was last week. He’s prepared, he’s focused, he’s got that determined look in his eye.”
Bagent doesn’t believe his head will be turned by all the fame.
After two straight losses, the Chargers defense will not be so impressed, and Bagent realizes the difficult assignment ahead facing former Bears edge rusher Khalil Mack and teammate Joey Bosa.
The Chargers had seven sacks for 50 yards in losses of another rookie, Las Vegas’ Aidan O’Connell, earlier this season.
“Yeah, that’s why the NFL is so hard,” Bagent said. “You’ve got to know when to eat the play. You’ve got to know when to take advantage of the play. You’ve got to know when to escape and you’ve got to know when to just throw it away or take a sack.”
Bagent relieved the injured Fields in the Bears’ 19-13 loss to the Vikings in Week 6 and turned the ball over twice in the second half.
Bears wide receiver DJ Moore said neither of those mistakes, nor the first start or even national attention this week are likely to affect the rookie’s focus.
“He didn’t care if it was a Monday night game, Tuesday night game, whatever day of the week it is, he was going to go out and execute the best that he could,” Moore said.
As for being able to execute a more demanding game plan this time, Bagent is confident there, too.
“I said it before, I don’t really drop myself in any category of being a pocket passer, dual threat,” he said. “I just like to make plays for the team, and once again, whatever I’m asked to do from the coaches is what we’ll get done and what will happen.
“So I don’t want to put any limits anywhere.”
NOTES: The Bears offensive line situation appears to be in flux again after they started six different lineups in seven games. Right tackle Darnell Wright has a shoulder injury that he tried to play through last week, but he was unable to practice on Wednesday. Also, left tackle Braxton Jones has been out since Week 2, but his 21-day allowable window for returning from injured reserve was opened Wednesday. … Safety Eddie Jackson went through a limited practice after missing last week’s game with a foot injury.
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