Bears told WR Chase Claypool to miss game after healthy scratch

CHICAGO -- A spokesperson for the Chicago Bears said that wide receiver Chase Claypool was told not to attend Sunday's game against the Denver Broncos after being designated a healthy scratch.

The Bears' messaging contradicts what coach Matt Eberflus said following Chicago's 31-28 loss when he confirmed that Claypool was not with the team at Soldier Field.

"We told him that it was a choice, and he's at home right now," Eberflus said.

Sunday marked the third time Claypool was inactive since he was traded to the Bears in November 2022 but the first time he missed a game for non-injury reasons.

"When you look at actives or inactives every single week, what we do is we obviously evaluate meetings," Eberflus said. "We evaluate walk-throughs. We evaluate practice, and we do that every single week. And then we declare actives or inactives based on that. And this week, Claypool was inactive."

The Bears had five inactives against Denver: Claypool, cornerback Jaylon Johnson (hamstring), safety Eddie Jackson (foot), quarterback Nathan Peterman and running back D'Onta Foreman. Every inactive player, except for Claypool, was present on the home team sideline and in the locker room postgame.

Warmup gear that hung in Claypool's Soldier Field locker appeared untouched following the contest.

Claypool, 25, was benched two days after he expressed frustration with his usage in the Bears' offense on Friday. Asked whether he feels he has been put in the best position to showcase his skill set, the wide receiver paused for seven seconds before uttering, "No."

"Sometimes the things around you either elevate you or you have to adapt to allow you to elevate with them," Claypool said. "So I've just been adapting to the new system and my new role in the system and trying to make the most out of it."

Eberflus said Claypool's comments did not factor into him being inactive and that the wide receiver did not know on Friday afternoon after practice that he was going to be a healthy scratch. Quarterback Justin Fields said he learned that Claypool would be inactive during a team meeting on Saturday and that the coaching staff did not explain its reasoning for his benching.

"I called Chase after whatever happened, and I was just checking up on him, making sure he was in good spirits," Fields said. "Regarding his comments and everything, I don't know if they are or not, but one thing I do know is everybody in the building is trying to reach their full potential. So players, coaches -- coaches are trying to get the most out of every player, and then us as players, we're trying to get the most out of our receivers and be the best we can.

"But as far as are you focused on a guy that's here or not during the game, no, not really. You're focused on the game and what's going on. So can't control that, if he's here or not."

Claypool was traded to Chicago in exchange for the No. 32 pick in this year's draft. In 10 games with the Bears, the wideout has been targeted 43 times and turned 18 catches into 191 yards and one touchdown. Claypool scored his first touchdown as a Bear in the second half of a Week 2 loss at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"Do I want him on this team?" Fields said. "Of course. Chase, he's a weapon. He's passionate. He just has to work on his display of his emotions, and you know me and him have had multiple conversations with that. But I mean as far as do I want him on the team, that's an easy answer: Yes, of course."

Fields turned in his best performance of the season against Denver, throwing for 335 yards and four touchdowns with one interception. In Claypool's absence, wide receiver DJ Moore and tight end Cole Kmet led the Bears with nine targets each. Moore had eight catches for 131 yards and a touchdown, while Kmet totaled seven catches for 85 yards and two TDs. Wideout Darnell Mooney was also a factor with four receptions for 51 yards.

Despite finding production elsewhere, Fields expressed disappointment regarding Claypool's absence.

"Of course, I'm frustrated, and you know, when one of your best weapons on your outside is not in the game. But it is what it is," Fields said. "Coach and the front office, they made the decision, and that's what it is. As a player, I can't do anything about it. Got to go out there with the players that I have and execute to the best of my ability. So you know, I just try to control what I can control and kind of just stay out of what's going on."

Eberflus said he expects Claypool back at Halas Hall on Monday and that he "anticipates" the wide receiver being with the Bears going forward.