Eddie Goldman returns to practice but Bears perilously thin on both lines

Eddie Goldman returns to practice but Bears perilously thin on both lines

In a week marked by catastrophic negative news – receiver Alshon Jeffery suspended, guard Kyle Long and nose tackle Will Sutton to IR – the Bears ended Friday with nose tackle Eddie Goldman at least practicing, if only on a limited basis and listed as doubtful heading to New York/Jersey and the Giants.

At this point, that will have to pass as “good” news for the Bears.

Because right tackle Bobby Massie remained out of practice and in the concussion protocol since the Tampa Bay game, projecting Mike Adams into the starting lineup. Adams, a 2012 second-round pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers, stepped in for Massie against the Buccaneers and now has a week of preparation with the offense.

“It felt good,” Adams said. “I hadn’t played in a regular season game since 2014 [because of a back injury], so it was nice to get in the action and get to be on the field with the guys,” Adams said. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity this week. Wishing Bobby well, obviously. He’s one of my brothers. Hope he heals up. But I plan on going in and taking advantage of the opportunity and giving it all I’ve got.”

The Bears guard/center Cornelius Edison and tackle Will Poehls on their practice squad, one expected to be moved onto the main roster now.

Ted Larsen has worked with the No. 1 line in place of Long and will play alongside Adams, who has had spotty moments, in and out of the lineup for Pittsburgh but at 6-7, 323 pounds, possessed of traits that are mandatory for NFL tackles.

“He’s big, he’s long, he’s got really long arm length,” said coach John Fox. “I think he’s smart, he’s adapted to what we’re doing pretty quickly. He stepped in last week against Tampa on not much notice and didn’t stick out. I think in that situation, that’s a good thing.”

Defensive end Mitch Unrein was unable to practice all week because of a back injury after not making the trip to Tampa. He is doubtful, as is cornerback Deiondre Hall (ankle).

Bilal Nichols eyes an even bigger impact for Bears in 2019

USA Today

Bilal Nichols eyes an even bigger impact for Bears in 2019

Even if Bilal Nichols repeated his 2018 performance in 2019, the Bears would be lauded for unearthing a solid rotational player with a fifth-round draft pick. But Nichols isn’t resting on his rookie accomplishments, and is aiming to be an even more impactful player on the Bears’ defensive line as he enters Year 2 in the NFL. 

“More consistent, more dominant,” Nichols said. “That’s the biggest thing for me right now.”

Nichols was a top-50 run defender in the NFL last year, as rated by Pro Football Focus — he made a “stop” on 8.7 percent of his run defense plays, ranking 44th in the league (PFF defines a “stop” as a play that constitutes a failure for the offense). For reference, Akiem Hicks ranked eighth at 13.3 percent, Eddie Goldman was 17th at 11.6 percent and Jonathan Bullard came in 40th at 9.1 percent. 

Nichols’ biggest “stop” came in the Bears’ narrow Week 3 win over the Arizona Cardinals, in which he dropped running back Chase Edmonds for a three-yard loss on a third-and-two play inside Bears territory just after the two-minute warning. While Nichols debuted a week earlier against the Seattle Seahawks and recorded a pressure of Russell Wilson, that play against the Cardinals was critical in an important victory for the Bears. It also proved to Nichols that what he was doing was beginning to work. 

“That was really a situation where I had cut it loose and went,” Nichols said. “I knew what i was doing on that play, I knew the possible things I could get from the offense and that was just a situation where I cut it loose and just played football. And I happened to make a big play. 

“I can’t wait to do that this year.” 

Nichols, as he was figuring out how to form a routine and study opponents in the NFL after making the jump from FCS-level Delaware, played a shade under a third of the Bears’ snaps last year as part of a rotation that proved critical to the team’s defensive success. Hicks played the most snaps (780), followed by Goldman (552) and Roy Robertson-Harris (353). Nichols (328) pushed Bullard (298) to the bottom of the rotation, which helped keep members of Jay Rodgers’ unit fresh and at their most effective when they were on the field. 

The Bears’ defensive line is arguably their best and deepest unit, one which can collapse pockets and stymie opposing run games (the latter of which is especially important, given the Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions’ renewed commitments to running the ball this year). Nichols was already a big part of it in 2018, and may be an even bigger part of it in 2019. 

“Last year, I was still trying to figure things out, still trying to figure the league out, figure myself out as a player,” Nichols said. “And now that I got everything figured out, I’m just able to go. I could just play and play fast and cut it loose.”

Bears announce 2019 training camp schedule, which features July 25 report date


Bears announce 2019 training camp schedule, which features July 25 report date

The Bears' potential run to Super Bowl 54 will begin in earnest on July 25.

Thursday, the Bears unveiled their 2019 training camp schedule, which will run from July 25-Aug. 11 at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais. The team will hold nine open practices during camp, including eight in Bourbonnais from 7:30 a.m. to noon. The ninth open session is Bears Family Fest, which will take place at Soldier Field on Aug. 3 starting at 7 p.m.

Before heading off to Bourbonnais, though, the team will hold a "Return to Decatur" event from July 20-21 in Decatur. 2019 is the Bears' 100th season in the NFL and they played their first season as the Decatur Staleys in 1920. The team will announce details at a later date, though both general manager Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Nagy will hold their opening press conferences on July 21.

Admission to training camp is free, though fans must get tickets in advance at Giveaways will be available to the first, 1,000 fans or while supplies last, according to the team. 

Check out the official training camp schedule:

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears.