Claypool motivated by ‘valuable' pick Bears traded for him


LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chase Claypool is fully aware of what the Bears gave up to acquire him in a trade deadline deal from the Pittsburgh Steelers. He knows the early returns haven't been there, but he knows the future is bright for him, quarterback Justin Fields, and the rest of the offense.

"I can definitely see why they would," Claypool said Thursday. "We traded away a top second-round pick. Very valuable. I smile because I know it was a great trade for the organization. Right now, however it may look, I don’t want to get roasted for saying something too soon like I have before, but I’m very confident the fans, organization, team will be happy.”

Claypool understands why fans might already be critical of the Bears' decision to trade for him. He knows that pick the Bears owe to the Steelers currently sits at No. 33 overall. That's a product of a 3-12 team that Claypool hasn't been able to help while rehabbing a knee injury.

The third-year receiver injured his knee during the Bears' Week 13 loss to the Green Bay Packers. He has missed the last two games but returned to practice in a limited capacity Thursday.

Claypool hopes to be able to play Sunday when the Bears travel to Detroit to face the Lions. His status will depend on how his knee responds to Thursday's limited work.

Being on the sidelines for losses to the Philadelphia Eagles and Buffalo Bills grated on Claypool as he was unable to help the Bears snap their eight-game losing streak.

“It’s super frustrating," Claypool said. "Missing any game sucks. Especially when you want to help the team win, obviously, and you want to help the fans. The fans want to win. Feeling like I can help bring that. It was frustrating being down, but obviously I’m excited to be back.”

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The Bears chose to acquire Claypool at the deadline so that he could get a headstart on building chemistry with Fields. Claypool's injury has slowed that process. The Notre Dame product has made sure to stay engaged while his knee heals.

His connection with Fields isn't where it needs to be, but Claypool plans to ensure it gets there during a critical offseason.

"I want to get with Justin and the receivers in the offseason," Claypool said. "We’re going to start building this. Not only this season but the offseason. I’ll be really excited for next year. I hope people haven’t counted me out yet. I got a lot to bring to the table.”

Claypool doesn't feel like he has to prove anything to anyone. He is confident in his ability and believes he can reach his potential catching passes from Fields.

But the desire to show he was worth the draft pick surrendered to bring him to Chicago is more fuel for his fire.

"That adds to my motivation," Claypool said. "This offseason will be my biggest offseason yet. I’m really excited.”

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