As the season rolls into its final stages, mounting injuries have left the Bears thin at several positions. But on Thursday, Matt Nagy announced a couple of players would be returning to practice who could help immensely. The team opened the 21-day window for both Germain Ifedi and Duke Shelley to be activated off of injured reserve.
If Ifedi can return in time to play right tackle against the Vikings, it would be a huge help on the offensive line. Jason Peters’ high-ankle sprain against the Packers on Sunday forced the team to insert rookie Teven Jenkins at left tackle. With limited playing time since returning from back surgery, Jenkins understandably struggled. On the right side, both Larry Borom and Elijah Wilkinson remain on the reserve/COVID-19 list, leaving the Bears with Lachavious Simmons and Alex Bars as the remaining tackles available to fill in on the edge. Simmons was pressed into duty for one start earlier this season due to injuries, against the Buccaneers. But he struggled with Tampa’s elite front seven and was benched part way through the game.
Meanwhile, Shelley should help shore up the nickel corner position that has been a carousel all season. Without Shelley in the lineup, the Bears have tried several players at his position, from Marqui Christian, to Xavier Crawford and backup safety DeAndre Houston-Carson. But when Crawford and DHC went down with injuries of their own in Week 14, the Bears decided to move safety Eddie Jackson into the slot to take over, with Deon Bush taking Jackson’s regular spot in the back of the defense.
Nagy said there’s no official forecast for either Ifedi or Shelley yet. The team will monitor how each player responds in practice before determining whether they’re fit to play on Monday Night Football.