The Chicago Bears’ opening drive was disastrous. It began with three penalties in the first five plays and injuries to two starters. First, it was receiver Equanimeous St. Brown suffering a concussion after a 20+ yard gain to move the chains. And shortly after that, it was guard Teven Jenkins going down with a neck injury that had him laying on the Soldier Field turf in clear pain.
This wasn’t pretty:
Even with early analysis suggesting Jenkins didn’t suffer a serious neck or spinal chord injury, my heart was in my stomach. The progress Jenkins has made as a second-year player has been a bright spot for these Bears. To see a player go from starting the year projecting to start at left tackle, switching positions twice during the offseason, thrown on the trade block, and put in a platoon to being a Pro Bowl quality guard is one heck of a development arc.
With that being said, I let out a sigh of relief when Bears Head Coach Matt Eberflus offered up a brief postgame update:
Center Sam Mustipher offered a relatively positive update, too:
“From everything I’ve heard from everybody around the locker room, he’s doing well,” Mustipher said, via the Tribune. “He was moving his hands and talking on the field. In a situation like that, when somebody gets pulled off on a stretcher, that’s what you want to see.”
Talking on the field and movement in the hands counts as a positive sign. And I’ll take ’em when I can get ’em after seeing Jenkins carted off like he was yesterday.
Jenkins has been the Bears’ best offensive lineman all year. PFF had him graded as the third best offensive guard going into Sunday’s game. It is a remarkable glow-up for Jenkins, who has come a long way since being part of a right guard platoon because of how he was practicing on Wednesdays. Losing Jenkins to injury stinks. But I’m glad that Eberflus could use the word “encouraging” in describing the situation.
Now, if we can get some further positive updates regarding Bears injuries that would be super. The laundry list of injuries was something else:
- Cornerback Jaylon Johnson left late in the fourth quarter with a ribs injury. He was questionable to return, but it happened so late in the game that a return wasn’t plausible.
- Linebacker Jack Sanborn limped off the field with an ankle injury. At first, he was questionable to come back to action (but didn’t return).
- Receiver Equanimeous St. Brown was put into concussion protocol, had his return listed as questionable, but was ultimately ruled out. The NFL has been approaching head injuries with extra care since Tua Tagovailoa’s incident earlier in the year. That is good news for player safety, but I think it will lead to more players missing multiple weeks while in concussion protocol (like Kyler Gordon and Jaquan Brisker did recently). And that might be what is best for long-term player health.
- Quarterback Justin Fields gave us a scare when he limped off the field with an apparent leg injury. But at least he came back quickly. And at the Bears have an idea how to combat the cramping issue that briefly sidelined Fields:
Sheesh! This team was banged up as heck yesterday. And to further complicate matters, the Bears have a quick turnaround with a Saturday game at noon against the Bills to kick off your Christmas Eve festivities. We’ll probably get “estimated” injury/practice reports throughout the abbreviated week. Hopefully, they’ll provide more positive udpates than negative ones. Because at this point of the year, going into the offseason healthy is a top priority.