Bears

Adam Shaheen, Roquan Smith and seven Bears injury updates

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Adam Shaheen, Roquan Smith and seven Bears injury updates

With 13 days separating the Bears from their season-opening Sunday Night Football date with the Green Bay Packers, coach Matt Nagy offered a handful of updates on a few guys whose status for Week 1 is in question. A rundown:

1. The Bears and Adam Shaheen (foot/ankle) are still sorting through the severity of his injury, though Nagy, when asked if the second-year tight end could wind up on injured reserve, said: “No, I don’t think so.” That we don’t know the extent of Shaheen’s injury and the recovery timetable for it yet doesn’t seem to bode well for his availability early in the season, but him not having to go on injured reserve could be at least somewhat of a positive. 

2. It’s still status quo for the practice participation of Roquan Smith (hamstring), and it looks unlikely he’ll play in Thursday’s preseason finale against the Buffalo Bills (“I would love to get him out there,” Nagy said. “I just don’t know if that’s where we’re going to be.”) At the least, Nagy does feel the hamstring issue that’s limited Smith is trending in the right direction. 

But even if Smith doesn’t take a single preseason snap — Thursday is his final opportunity to do so — that wouldn’t necessarily preclude him from playing against Green Bay, Nagy said. 

“He’s at a point where it’s more the conditioning part of it, because mentally right now I feel like he’s in a good spot, I really do,” Nagy said. “It’s more of the, can he last through a game or what’s his reps if he does play in that game. That we really don’t know, and then you’re just at a point where do you want to take the risk of overdoing it, and then you compound something. Do you want to do that or not. So that’s kind of where we’re at right now.”

3. Akiem Hicks (knee) and Dion Sims (concussion) both returned to practice on Monday, with the Bears increasing Hicks’ workload a bit but still making sure he didn’t overdo things before next week’s game week preparation. 

“We know he can play football,” Nagy said. “We know what he can do so now it’s just a matter of getting through this, making sure he feels good on a daily basis and then getting him going next week.”

4. Leonard Floyd (hand) remains on track to play against Green Bay, albeit with a club on his hand. 

5. Aaron Lynch (hamstring) continues to work his way back into practice, though Nagy stopped short of saying the outside linebacker’s spot on the 53-man roster hinges on him being able to play Thursday night. 

“He’s a guy at a position right now where, depth-wise — we have some young guys that are playing well right now that we feel very comfortable with — but it’s some of the experience he has,” Nagy said. “And again, the experience of being in Vic’s defense that you know what he can do. As a staff, you give this kid an opportunity because he’s done it before. But you always go back to, ‘you gotta be available, right’ you gotta be able to play.’ I think the quote is, ‘your best ability is your availability.’ So if you have that, then great. He’s getting to that point right now. He’s been working hard. Trust me, he wants to be out there right now. So we’re hoping that occurs.

6. Safety DeAndre Houston-Carson is unlikely to be ready to play Week 1, and coupled with Deiondre’ Hall’s suspension for that game, the Bears may head to Lambeau Field with only three safeties if they don't keep undrafted free agent Nick Orr or make a waiver claim on cut-down weekend. 

7. Swing tackle Bradley Sowell sprained his ankle against Kansas City and will not play Thursday. Whether or not that affects his Week 1 availability remains to be seen, but coupled with Kyle Long’s injury history it could lead the Bears to take as many as nine offensive linemen on their initial 53-man roster. 

8. This isn’t an injury update, but a noteworthy revelation from Nagy is that the Bears have yet to settle on a group of five starting offensive linemen for Week 1. Specifically, there are ongoing discussions and evaluations centering (no pun intended) on if Eric Kush or James Daniels should be part of that group. Kush has consistently rolled with the first-team offense this preseason, while Daniels played every snap of the Kansas City game and split halves between center and guard. Expect offensive line coach Harry Hiestand to have a group settled, then, by the first practice of next week. 

“We’re not there yet,” Nagy said. “We’re still communicating through that. That’s the fun part for us. It’s a great battle right now there, those guys (Kush and Daniels). 

A Bears' offense lacking results needs to hope messy start to 2019 is an early-season mirage

A Bears' offense lacking results needs to hope messy start to 2019 is an early-season mirage

DENVER — Through two games, the Bears’ offense hasn’t shown any evidence of being better in Mitch Trubisky’s third year in the NFL, and in its second year running Matt Nagy’s scheme. 

If anything, it’s looked worse than it did in 2018.

Yes, the Bears won on Sunday, beating the Denver Broncos, 16-14, in what might’ve been a season-saving victory. But teams were 2-16 in 2018 when their quarterback passed at least 25 times and averaged fewer than 4.5 yards per attempt. Trubisky completed 16 of 27 passes for 120 yards on Sunday, good for a paltry average of 4.4 yards per attempt. The Bears were incredibly lucky to escape Colorado with a win.  

“We know we’re not where we want to be as an offense,” Trubisky said. “I’m not where I want to be as quarterback, but you use these games and these wins as momentum to keep getting better and finding ways to win and keep improving our skills.”

Papering over the issues that arose over the game’s first 59 minutes and 51 seconds was the clutch 25-yard strike Trubisky fired to an open Allen Robinson, which set up Eddy Pineiro’s game-winning 53-yard field goal as time expired. That play came on a do-or-die fourth and 15, and Trubisky climbed the pocket well and bought just enough time to connect with Robinson over the middle.

It was reminiscent of the connection he had with Robinson at the end of January’s wild card game against the Philadelphia Eagles, only this time, his kicker made the kick.

“I’ve always been taught that quarterbacks are evaluated by how they finish games and what they do,” Nagy said. “So, this is again one of those games that you saw where there just happened to be some more runs that went on. We tried to control Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, two guys that are real game changers. We wanted to make sure that we controlled them.

“We wanted to get back to throwing the ball a little bit, but when the time presents itself to throw the ball, we will do that. For me, I’m just proud that he made that throw at the end.”

The Bears’ offensive balance was monumentally better than it was in Week 1, with 28 handoffs standing against 27 drop-backs for Trubisky (those numbers don’t account for RPO decisions, but safe to say, Nagy’s playcalling was indeed balanced). David Montgomery looked better than his 3.4 yards-per-carry average may indicate, while a well-designed toss to Cordarrelle Patterson gouged 46 yards — easily the Bears’ most explosive play of 2019.

And credit Nagy and his offensive brain trust for scheming Miller and Chubb out of making an impact — Miller was invisible, and Chubb’s most notable play was a dodgy roughing the passer penalty that helped move the Bears closer to field goal range in the dying embers of the fourth quarter. Those two players accounted for 26 1/2 sacks in 2018, and the Bears’ offensive line can head back to Chicago feeling positive about the impact they made Sunday. 

So the Bears’ offense did show improvement from Week 1 to Week 2, though the bar was awfully low. And it still wasn’t exactly good Sunday — one touchdown and three field goals is not what this team needs if it’s serious about making the playoffs again, let alone reaching the Super Bowl.

The best-case scenario is that the Bears’ offense will be significantly better in Week 7 and Week 11 and Week 15 as it develops an identity. The Bears won an uninspiring 16-14 game against a bad team out west last year — Week 3 over the Arizona Cardinals — but at least before that they showed the ability to sustain a certain level of offensive competence.

Through two weeks, the most competent drive the Bears had was powered by nothing but running plays. Otherwise, this offense has been a mess.

Nagy and Trubisky have time to figure this out, especially with a suboptimal Washington side awaiting them a week from Monday. Few teams are lucky enough to form a season-long identity in the first four weeks of the regular season (remember when the New England Patriots lost to the Detroit Lions last September?) and the Bears can point to that fact as a reason for hope about this offense.

But right now, it’s all about hope. Because the results haven’t shown much of anything to provide hope.  

“Nothing in the NFL is easy at all, especially early in the season when you’re trying to figure out who you are,” offensive lineman Kyle Long said. “That’s why there’s 16 games and 17 weeks.”

 

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NFC North standings: Bears remain in last place despite Week 2 win

NFC North standings: Bears remain in last place despite Week 2 win

The Chicago Bears defeated the Denver Broncos in thrilling fashion Sunday thanks to the right leg of kicker Eddy Pineiro. The winner of Chicago's summer kicking derby blasted a 53-yard field goal as time expired to give the Bears a 16-14 victory over Vic Fangio and the Denver Broncos.

The win moves the Bears to 1-1 on the season, but didn't do much to help their standing in the NFC North. Chicago remains in last place despite the victory. They have company at the bottom of the division, however, as the Minnesota Vikings dropped their Week 2 game against the Packers, 21-16. 

Green Bay's victory moves them to a perfect 2-0 and in sole possession of first place in the North, while the Detroit Lions moved into second place with their victory over the Los Angeles Chargers (13-10).

The Bears have a winnable game in Week 3 against the Washington Redskins on Monday Night Football, and the Packers could end next Sunday 3-0 after welcoming the Denver Broncos to Lambeau Field. The Lions face the toughest opponent -- the Philadelphia Eagles -- while the Vikings are home against the beatable Oakland Raiders.

For now, the NFC North standings are as follows:

1) Green Bay Packers (2-0)
2) Detroit Lions (1-0-1)
T-3) Minnesota Vikings (1-1)
T-3) Chicago Bears (1-1)

 

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