Bears notebook: Injury concerns, angry underdogs and more
A round-up of various Bears news items from a busy Friday: Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks, Buster Skrine, Matt Nagy, Tashaun Gipson, Cairo Santos and Eddy Pineiro.
Two of the Bears’ biggest stars missed practice Friday, leading to uncertainty about their status for the game at the Rams on Monday. Outside linebacker Khalil Mack was out with a sore back, and defensive tackle Akiem Hicks hasn’t practiced all week because of an unspecified illness.
The one piece of definitive, encouraging news is that the Bears are confident Hicks does not have the coronavirus.
“It’s not that,” coach Matt Nagy said. “Like all of us right now in 2020, the second this comes up, we’re majorly concerned. We’re just going to take it hour by hour and day by day, but yeah, nothing to do with COVID.”
Nonetheless, the Bears are scheduled to fly to Los Angeles on Saturday and wouldn’t want Hicks spreading any illness that’s significant enough to keep him home from work. Nagy didn’t give a clear answer when asked about Hicks being on the flight.
Mack’s sore back seems to be less of an issue, although it’s unusual for him to miss an entire practice. He was full-go the day before.
“It’s probably just more preventative than anything,” Nagy said. “I’m not really concerned right now.”
Either player missing the game or even being less than his normal self would be problematic for the Bears, who structured their team around the pass-rushing trio of Mack, Hicks and Robert Quinn.
Cornerback Buster Skrine also missed practice for the second consecutive day because of an ankle injury. He would typically be the one covering Rams slot receiver Cooper Kupp, who has 374 yards and two touchdowns.
The Bears leaving a day early for Los Angeles is surprising because Nagy has never had them do that — even when visiting the Rams and Broncos last season — and has been adamant about minimizing time spent on the road.
The team will practice at Halas Hall on Saturday, then fly and hold a walk-through Sunday in the Los Angeles area. Nagy has been pleased with his players’ adherence to safety protocol throughout the pandemic and thinks they can handle an extended stay.
“The biggest thing when we do this is making sure that we all trust one another,” he said. “We put together the action plan, and then we’re smart and we understand that it’s a business trip while we’re out there.”
Bear-ly scraping by
Hardly anyone is taking the Bears seriously despite their 5-1 start, and punching back against those doubts has become a rallying cry among Nagy, quarterback Nick Foles and other players.
Not only are the Bears being dismissed as a contender, but the Rams are a 5.5-point favorite and ESPN is giving them a 70% chance of winning. It’s the sixth time in seven games the Bears will be an underdog.
“This team has heart; this team has fight,” safety Tashaun Gipson said. “So maybe on paper, we’re the underdogs. Hey, that’s fine… but I’m not quite sure why.
“It’s one of those things where we just have to continue to go out there and prove [people wrong]. And who knows, man, we might be the worst 10-1 team in history. And guess what? We’d have 53 guys on that team that would be 100% OK with that.”
Pineiro still shelved
It sounds like the Bears won’t have to make a decision on their kicker situation anytime soon. As Cairo Santos continues trending toward the best season of his career, it appears Eddy Pineiro isn’t close to being healthy.
Pineiro has been on injured reserve with a groin injury all season, and special teams coordinator Chris Tabor wouldn’t say whether he has progressed to the point where he can kick field goals in practice. That likely means that he hasn’t.
Santos has made 10 of 12 field goals, including a 55-yarder against the Panthers, and all 12 of his extra points.
Source : Jason Lieser Link