It’s that time of year when these Bears injury report updates begin getting tedious as more names continue joining the list.
Two new names enter the mix of Bears defensive players whose status we need to keep tabs on ahead of Sunday’s game against the Buccaneers. First, it’s cornerback Duke Shelley practicing in a limited capacity with an ankle injury. Shelley is CB1 among nickel corners and has been in on 55 percent of the defense’s snaps. Chicago has been mixing and matching throughout the secondary, but having a thinning group before facing Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, and Antonio Brown is suboptimal.
And when it comes to facing Tom Brady, it would be most ideal to have a healthy defensive front. Unfortunately, it’s rough sledding for the Bears in that area.
A knee injury kept Bilal Nichols from practicing on Thursday. Nichols wasn’t on Wednesday’s injury report, so seeing “DNP” next to his name in Thursday’s release is a bit jarring. Nichols has just 1 QB sack, 2 tackles-for-loss, and 1 QB Hit to his name in six games this year. But he still plays 66 percent of the defense’s snaps, which isn’t inconsequential. Moreover, Nichols is coming off a year where he had 5 sacks and 13 quarterback hits while playing just 58 percent of the snaps. We know Nichols can ball. It’s just that, right now, we’re unsure how healthy he is after making his way to the injury report.
Nichols makes for four starting Chicago defenders among their front seven whose status is in question for Sunday’s game in Tampa Bay. Because, in addition to Nichols, the Bears have Khalil Mack (foot), Akiem Hicks (groin), and Robert Quinn (COVID-19) as also being unavailable for practice. Mack hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down despite missing practice time, but Hicks and Quinn are toss-ups at this point.
As for the rest of the injury report:
— Chicago Bears (@BearsPR) October 21, 2021
It is encouraging to see receiver Allen Robinson II (ankle) and linebacker Caleb Johnson (knee) upgraded from not practicing to doing so on a limited basis. Small steps toward progress still count as progress in my book. Unfortunately, this feels like the lone silver lining in this update. Hopefully, some better news and clarity will come with Friday’s update and Saturday’s reporting of who makes the trip or not.