The Chicago Bears are winding down the third phase of the offseason training program, and the timing couldn’t be better for outside linebacker Aaron Lynch.
Head Coach Matt Nagy told reporters at Halas Hall on Wednesday that Lynch injured his hamstring on Tuesday, according to The Athletic’s Kevin Fishbain. And while Nagy reassured reporters that Lynch would be fine and ready to go for training camp in July, it’s still a bit concerning.
Lynch’s time with the Bears is off to an inauspicious start. Back in April, Lynch hurt his left ankle during a minicamp practice. Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune tweeted that Nagy believed Lynch would be fine. And yes, while Lynch bounced back from that set-back, having another just a few months later is troubling.
Injuries pop up during minicamps and OTAs from time to time, and these don’t seem to be major set-backs. Still, injuries at this stage of camp aren’t going to instill much confidence in a player who hasn’t played a full 16-game schedule since 2014 and hasn’t played in at least 10 games since 2015.
Lynch missed four games with a calf injury in 2017, a season in which he was also limited to just seven games. And in 2016, Lynch served a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy. Lynch has played in just 14 games over the last two seasons. A mounting list of injuries will do him no favors as he tries to shake the injury bug and try to live up to his potential in Chicago while playing in a familiar scheme.
The Bears signed Lynch as a free agent this offseason hoping to catch lightning in a bottle with a one-year “prove it” deal. Lynch looked to be a star on the rise as a rookie for the 49ers in 2014, picking up six sacks as an outside linebacker in Vic Fangio’s 3-4 scheme. And even when Fangio departed for Chicago, Lynch still looked the part of a quality pass rusher as he collected 6.5 sacks in 14 games while in Jim Tomsula’s lone season as a head coach.
Lynch should have plenty of opportunities for playing time, and is most likely to start opposite Leonard Floyd once the season starts. And while Lynch has a leg up in experience compared to second-year player Isaiah Irving and rookie Kylie Fitts, Nagy has made it known that playing time will be earned and not given. Lynch certainly possesses a ton of upside and potential, he’ll have to stay on the field long enough to show it off. So far, he isn’t off to a great start.