The Chicago Bears injury report won’t drop until this afternoon, but we’ve already got good news on the injury front.
Bears Head Coach Matt Eberflus told reporters at Halas Hall that left tackle Braxton Jones and running back Roschon Johnson are slated to return to practice later today. For Jones, the Bears are opening up the 21-day practice window for the left tackle’s return from injured reserve. As for Johnson, he has missed the team’s last two games after suffering a concussion in Week 5 against the Washington Commanders. And while Eberflus told reporters that Roschon still has one hurdle to clear before getting out of concussion protocol, it sounds like the rookie running back will participate in practice in some capacity.
Additionally, Coach Flus mentioned that the team is opening the 21-day practice window for defensive end Khalid Kareem. If the name Khalid Kareem doesn’t ring a bell, it is OK. I don’t blame you. The Bears snagged Kareem with a priority waiver claim at the end of the preseason, but has yet to take a snap with the Bears. Kareem, 25, was a fifth-round pick (147th overall) by the Cincinnati Bengals in 2020 and has 1 sack in 27 games as a pro. But enough about Kareem, who will be behind Yannick Ngakoue, DeMarcus Walker, Rasheem Green, and Dominique Robinson on the depth chart whenever he returns. But enough about a third-string defensive end…
Getting Braxton Jones back could be HUGE for the Bears
The Bears offensive line has been trending in the right direction lately and Braxton Jones’ return could further boost its profile. Getting Teven Jenkins back has been helpful. The same can be said about moving Cody Whitehair off the center position. Darnell Wright has been establishing himself as a building block at right tackle. But getting Jones back in the mix could really solidify things.
To say that Jones had a strong 2022 would be an understatement. Jones went from Day 3 pick to a 17-game starter who didn’t miss a single snap as a rookie. That was impressive, to be sure. But it felt like just an appetizer for what he could do in 2023 given a full offseason of NFL workouts and training. For what it’s worth, Jones appeared to be off to a good start this season. After all, ESPN had Jones owning the highest pass-block win rate among offensive tackles at the time of his injury. Considering Larry Borom’s deficiencies as a pass-blocker, getting a healthy Jones back into the rotation represents a significant upgrade.
Don’t sleep on Roschon Johnson’s return
Running back Roschon Johnson’s return is also pending. And like Braxton Jones, getting Johnson back into the swing of things could be a huge boost for the Bears offense.
Don’t get me wrong. Chicago’s running game is humming along without Johnson (or Week 1 starter Khalil Herbert) in the lineup. But I’m in the camp of “the more, the merrier” when it comes to running backs. Because the more looks you can throw at opposing defenses, the tougher it will be to defend. And with rookie quarterback Tyson Bagent set to start again, backing him with a sturdy running game would be a nice thing to have. Plus, Johnson will have fresh legs coming into action. That’ll be a welcome sight.
On top of all that, there is a belief that Johnson could be a starting-caliber running back down the line. Roschon does a little bit of everything well and that makes him a potential three-down back. D’Onta Foreman and Darrynton Evans are capable RBs in their own right. But Johnson is the type of running back who doesn’t have to leave the field because he isn’t a liability as a pass blocker or receiver out of the backfield. Again, Roschon Johnson still needs to clear one final hurdle to escape concussion protocol. So we’re not out of the woods just yet. But it sure sounds like Johnson is coming soon.
For more from Bears Head Coach Matt Eberflus’ press conference, you can check out the video below or watch it here: