Bears QB Mitch Trubisky (shoulder) will make his return to the starting lineup Sunday against the New Orleans Saints (5-1), who are dealing with injury issues of their own. Quarterback Drew Brees will miss his fifth consecutive game with a thumb injury and running back Alvin Kamara (ankle) has yet to practice this week.
The Saints may play it safe with Kamara and keep him sidelined in Week 7, but it doesn't appear the Bears will do the same with Trubisky. He's been a full participant in practice and is expected to play without restrictions.
"No, I don’t think he should play, if it’s still something that’s nagging or weakened, like oh we could have a major setback and that could hurt him that way, I wouldn’t play him," NBC Sports NFL Analyst Chris Simms told NBC Sports Chicago this week. "You gotta keep the big picture of the NFL season in mind in this type of situation. It is a little bit about how he feels, how bad the injury actually is, how bad can he hurt it worse, all of those things come into play."
Trubisky will play with a harness on his left shoulder, and while it's a restriction that will take some getting used to, it shouldn't limit his ability to throw the ball all that much.
The bigger concern, however, is when Trubisky tucks and runs. Can his shoulder withstand a big hit or a hard fall? If that part of his game is limited, the offense is in for a long afternoon.
Trubisky's struggles as a passer in 2019 have been well-documented.
"It hasn’t been great, it has not, there’s nothing I can say," Simms said. "And I’ve been a huge Mitchell Trubisky defender, I think anybody that’s watched this show saw me last year saying, no, I still believe in Mitchell Trubisky, he’s got talent. Now what I saw before the injury this year, I did not like it. Not good decision-making, not crisp throwing, on-target consistency, all of those things have been an issue. But I don’t think it’s all just about Mitchell Trubisky.
"Listen, Chase Daniel got in there and we were told, the whole offense is open with Chase Daniel because he knows it. Well, if that’s the whole offense, then I’m disappointed. What is the Bears’ offense right now? That plays into how the quarterback has been looking. So, yes, Mitchell Trubisky could play better, but I don’t necessarily look at it and go, 'Wow, he’s really missing a lot of wide-open receivers' or 'There’s all these yards to be had and he’s messing it up.' No, there’s a lot of other issues along with Mitchell Trubisky and the quarterback play in that Bears offense."
The biggest issue that's plagued Chicago's offense in 2019 is the offensive line, which is also one of the biggest surprises considering how well-respected the unit was coming into the season. Right guard Kyle Long, who was arguably the worst starter of the bunch, was placed on season-ending injured reserve this week. It may be a case of addition by subtraction even with an unknown commodity like Rashaad Coward likely stepping into his role.
Still, this team's short- and long-term success comes down to Trubisky improving as that decision-maker and crisp-thrower. He'll get a chance to show he's on his way Sunday at Soldier Field.