The Bears got clarity with many players on their extensive injury report on Friday. Several players have already been ruled out due to their injuries and others head into Sunday’s game against the Vikings without a game designation. Here’s what it all means for the team.
The Bears figure to get two starters back in the secondary. Both Jaylon Johnson and Kyler Gordon practiced in full on Friday and neither have a game designation. It’s worth noting that at the time of publication, the Bears still had not activated Gordon from the injured reserve, which they would need to do before he can play.
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Gordon broke his hand in Week 1 and the Bears had Josh Blackwell and Greg Stroman replace him while he recuperated. Each man filled in well, and Stroman in particular had two big defensive plays to help the Bears notch their first win of the season in Week 5. Johnson missed two games with a hamstring injury. Rookie Terell Smith took his place at outside corner and also played well. However, if Johnson or fellow outside corner Tyrique Stevenson goes down against the Vikings, Smith won’t be available to step in again since he’s already been ruled out with an illness.
The final missing piece in the secondary is Eddie Jackson, who has missed the last three games with a foot injury. He’s officially questionable after practicing in a limited capacity all week, and acknowledged that in a perfect world the team would like him to get in at least one full practice before playing. Jackson also said he was hoping to play last Thursday, but didn’t get the green light from the team.
“Sometimes they’ve gotta protect me from myself,” Jackson said. “I wasn’t there yet, obviously.”
If Jackson can’t play, Elijah Hicks would continue to play free safety for the team.
On offense, the Bears will be limited at running back, again. Khalil Herbert (ankle), Roschon Johnson (concussion) and Travis Homer (hamstring) have all already been ruled out for Sunday’s game. That leaves the team with just D’Onta Foreman, Darrynton Evans and fullback Khari Blasingame as the healthy running backs. Having only three running backs puts the team right at their minimum “pair and a spare” roster buffer preference, so their depth may be challenged again if they suffer additional injuries at the position against the Vikings.
“We obviously have a plan for that, a contingency plan for that,” said head coach Matt Eberflus. “I’m not going to reveal those things at his juncture but we certainly have a plan for that. When you’re down a couple running backs, you got to have a plan for that.”
Wide receiver Velus Jones Jr. has taken some snaps at running back, so if the Bears are in an emergency RB situation, he could be the guy one of the guys in consideration to take over in a worst-case, no-RBs left scenario.
On the offensive line, Lucas Patrick was able to practice in full on Friday, but Eberflus said there’s still one more part of the concussion protocol he needs to clear before getting the green light to play. It will be interesting to see whether or not the Bears rotate Cody Whitehair and Patrick at center if Patrick can play. Doug Kramer also carries no game designation as he works his way back from a thumb injury. The Bears still need to activate Kramer from IR, but if they do it seems unlikely that he would work his way into a rotation at center.
Finally, Equanimeous St. Brown is out with a hamstring injury. He’s gotten additional playing time since Chase Claypool was dismissed from the team. His absence could lead to more playing time for rookie Tyler Scott, or more two-tight end sets featuring Robert Tonyan or Marcedes Lewis.
Cole Kmet practiced in full on Friday after two limited practices earlier in the week and has no game designation for Sunday.