In a week in which the Bears’ mettle and depth are being tested to every degree, it’s nice to share some positive news for a change.
The team announced it is activating pass-rusher Robert Quinn and offensive lineman Elijah Wilkinson from the Reserve/COVID-19 list. Quinn went on the list early last week, but was unable to clear protocols before Chicago’s Week 7 loss at Tampa Bay. Meanwhile, Wilkinson was a late-scratch last week, landing on the COVID reserve list just hours before the Bears-Bucs 3:25 p.m. CT kickoff. Not having both players wasn’t why the Bears lost, but the trickle-down effect was real.
Chicago was left turning to second-year rotational pass-rusher Trevis Gipson to start in place of Quinn. It was a drop-off, especially with Quinn having a bounce-back year. Losing a guy who has put up more sacks (5.5) through six games than he did in a full season in 2020 stung. But it was not as bad as the one felt on the other side of the line of scrimmage. The Bears really felt it when it had to thrust Lachavious Simmons — who had one career offensive snap under his belt prior to last Sunday’s game — into the lineup for his first ever start.
The results were as bad as one would expect from a player with little experience, who was given minimal help in terms of a chipping tight end or back on his side, and didn’t even get any practice reps at the position. But that’s water under the bridge with Wilkinson set to return. It’ll be inserting to see how Chicago handles the right side of the line for its game against the 49ers. Wilkinson was starting while Germain Ifedi was on injured reserve. But rookie Larry Borom was spotted taking right tackle reps on Thursday. The rookie is coming off an IR stint of his own due to a high-ankle sprain, and the team thought highly enough of Borom to put him at left tackle in place of Jason Peters in Week 1.
In other words, it isn’t a stretch to envision Chicago placing Borom in a starting role. Even if it isn’t the one he was battling for earlier. However, with Wilkinson off the COVID reserve list, the Bears don’t have to rush Borom back into the lineup. Then again, with Borom trending in the right direction, Chicago doesn’t need to throw Wilkinson back into the fire. That feels important to keep in mind considering he was just serving a stint on the COVID list. If he isn’t ready to be a full go, the Bears could put together a mix-and-match plan. A rotation of Wilkinson, Borom, and Alex Bars is crazy enough to work for one week.