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Extra Hands Paying Off for Bears

The receiver corps built by GM Ryan Pace hadn't seemed as deep as they built it up to be but when Allen Robinson and Marquise Goodwin were out of the lineup the Bears found capable replacements.

There was a time this year when you had to wonder what Bears GM Ryan Pace was thinking after he had acquired a flock of speed receivers as the backups behind Allen Robinson and Darnell Mooney.

Like, right up until Week 12 of the NFL season.

Finally, Damiere Byrd made a contribution for the Bears and they also got something against Detroit besides special teams play from returner Jakeem Grant. It can't help but provide them some optimism going forward if they need to go another game without injured Allen Robinson.

"I'm super happy for Damiere," Bears coach Matt Nagy said.

Byrd came up with four catches for 42 yards and the game's biggest reception that wasn't a score, a 7-yard first-down reception to let the Bears kill off all the clock and kick the game-winning 28-yard field goal.

"But a true pro," Nagy said. "He does everything you ask. He stays in his lane. He's somebody that we trust immensely. I think he deserves a lot of credit. He had some big-time catches yesterday, a couple of them on scrambles and then the one at the end there. That's who he is. He's a really good player. I think he fits a great role for us."

The role wasn't clearly defined until those receptions, but it took Marquise Goodwin also being out of the lineup with a foot injury for Byrd to be used. His ability should surprise no one as he had 47 receptions last year for New England.

The injury status of both Goodwin and Robinson won't be known until sometime next week, Goodwin with a foot injury and Robinson with a hamstring.

The Bears' other surprising receiver option was return man Jakeem Grant. His returns have been solid but when he was in Miami the Dolphins also used him in the passing game.

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He made 91 receptions in five seasons and four games for the Dolphins with 1,001 yards and five TDs. The Bears deployed him on short routes to try and set up catch-and-run opportunities. It worked for receptions of 12 and 13 yards Thursday.

"You know, Jakeem is somebody that, you see, for his size and his stature, he's super-tough, being able to run back on kickoffs and punts," Nagy said of the 5-foot-7, 171-pounder. "And now we're able to move him around and do different things.

"You know, when was here with Miami in the (preseason) scrimmage, you could see there's some really good clips of him running some great routes on the outside. But when you get him on the inside and you put him at the running back position, you get him mismatched on the safety or a linebacker. You can do different things. They gotta know where he's at."

It's a little like Tarik Cohen was used before his torn ACL.

"There's a little of that," Nagy said. "I could see that. That's a good comparison."

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