The first-place Chicago Bears are starting to get healthy:
Bears plan to have Khalil Mack, Allen Robinson, Adam Shaheen, Ben Braunecker and Bilal Nichols all practice in some capacity on Wednesday.
— Jeff Dickerson (@DickersonESPN) November 7, 2018
ESPN’s Jeff Dickerson reports that the team plans to welcome back a wave of injured players back to practice on Wednesday. That group includes pass-rusher Khalil Mack, wide receiver Allen Robinson, tight ends Adam Shaheen and Ben Braunecker, and defensive end Bilal Nichols.
Put another way: That’s two starters (Mack and Robinson), the preseason favorite to be the team’s No. 1 “Y” tight end option (Shaheen), a fifth-round rookie who has grown into a rotation player and borderline starter (Nichols), and a core special teams contributor (Braunecker).
This is a pretty significant group of players who could be re-entering the mix in Chicago, and I’ll note that Head Coach Matt Nagy delivered the news with a different, more optimistic tone than in previous weeks, which makes me feel a whole lot better about the state of the Bears’ medical report than usual.
Playing without Mack and Robinson the last two games was a roll of the dice that seems to have paid off in a big way. Because on top of stacking back-to-back wins, the Bears were also able to rest two key players who figure to play starring roles down the stretch as the Bears hunt down a playoff spot
Michael: So you’re saying they had their cake (winning the last two games) and ate it, too (resting them up for the NFC North stretch)? Awesome.
The ankle injury that has lingered and hindered Mack since Week 6 against the Dolphins was believed to be at 70 percent prior to the Jets game. I can only imagine how much better that feels after two weeks off. Robinson’s groin injury also popped up against the Dolphins, but was re-aggravated a week later against the Patriots. Two weeks of rest likely did wonders for one of Mitch Trubisky’s favorite targets. Injuries to Nichols (knee) and Braunecker (concussion) came about against the Jets, so their recovery has come along quite nicely. And then there’s Shaheen.
Beyond the obvious importance of Mack and Robinson to their respective position groups, keeping tabs on Shaheen might be the most intriguing development that will come this week. Shaheen hasn’t seen game action since suffering an ankle/foot injury in the preseason that landed him on injured reserve. The Bears offense has operated well without him in the lineup, but you can’t ever have too many worthwhile options – especially if they can run block, pass protect, run routes, catch passes, and create matchup problems (particularly in the red zone).
So while the Bears didn’t give any specifics to how much their returning players would practice, the next three injury reports should give us an idea what to expect for the upcoming game against the Lions.