Just describing the current situation on the Bears' offensive line is such a headache, so god only knows how Matt Nagy and company plan on coaching it.
Things have gone from bad to worse since James Daniels' pec injury against the Buccaneers in Week 5. Since then they've lost their starting center for (at least) a game to a calf injury, their starting right tackle for (at least) a month to a knee injury, and their swing tackle tested positive for COVID-19 – which has forced their starting right guard into a five-day quarantine. As it stands today, the starting line in Tennessee will feature two undrafted free agents and a converted defensive end.
"All of us have to step up and be able to adapt," Matt Nagy said. "I mean that's kind of been our word this whole time ... adjust and adapt and expect the unexpected, and every day it's always something new. So it would be one thing, I think, if you have a bunch of people that looked at the glass half empty and just everything was difficult – but we don't really do it that way here, and so it's exciting for our guys to be able to get an opportunity here in practice. And who knows where this thing goes for gameday."
Nagy couldn't say whether Spriggs was symptomatic or not, but did mention that he hasn't "been told anything either way," which he figured meant the Bears' swing tackle was "doing pretty good." And while Ifedi – who's currently in the second day of his quarantine – was given a high-risk label, the Bears are actually optimistic that he'll be cleared by Saturday and able to suit up against the Titans the next day.
"All our guys want to be as healthy as they can, and they want to be able to play through injuries," Nagy said. "I think where you have to be careful is this: if you have an injury that’s going to affect the way you play and you try to tough it out, that’s not good for our team. So we gotta be smart in regards to how that goes, and you gotta balance all that. I feel really good about coach Juan and the way he handles these situations. He always has his guys as mentally prepared as they can be. So we’ll just … whatever they tell us, that’s what we’ll roll with."
Even if the Bears lucked into the best-case scenario on Sunday – healthy returns from Ifedi and Whitehair – the line would still be short on experience and depth. It's one of this week's largest practice puzzles; without the amount of bodies needed to put together a "looks" team, finding the right fit becomes all the more difficult. There is *some* help on the way: as the trade deadline came and went yesterday afternoon, they promoted 2020 7th-round draft pick Lachavious Simmons to the active roster and signed free agent Aaron Neary to the practice squad.
Realistically, the Bears will go into Week 9 having to build a line out of Ifedi, Simmons, Sam Mustipher (who may also be hurt?), Rashaad Coward, Charles Leno, Alex Bars, and some combo of Neary, Arlington Hambright, Badara Traore, or Dieter Eiselen. Given how no one's quite sure who will actually be available on Sunday, it sounds like everyone – everyone – has found themselves in most of Nick Foles' weekly meetings.
"It’s just continuing that routine, continuing that dialogue in between our sets of plays, talking through stuff if we need to, and then just being on the same page," Foles said. "We’re not going to be perfect, but as long as we know if we make a call – hey, where our limitation could be if they bring a blitz – we’re going to be fine.
"And if there’s times where I need to get the ball out, I can get it out or if I can drop back and throw a deep ball, I’ll throw it deep. So it’s just continuing to have those conversations and sticking to the routine that we have going, where it’s getting in here early before the day starts and getting that extra film. It’s something we’ve been doing and we’ll keep doing."