Injuries in win over Raiders fell two more Bears starters


Injuries in win over Raiders fell two more Bears starters

The Bears’ starting lineups, already riddled with injuries this season and offseason, took two more hits in Sunday’s 22-20 win over the Oakland Raiders when center Will Montgomery went down with what was initially diagnosed as a broken fibula, and safety Antrel Rolle followed later with an ankle injury that also has his status uncertain for next week’s game in Kansas City against the Chiefs.

Montgomery was on crutches in the locker room after the game, his lower left leg already encased in a hard cast.

“Early calls on that are that it is a broken fibula,” said coach John Fox. “We had to juggle two guys in there after Montgomery went out.”

The issue for the Bears now, after a seemingly endless litany of woes on the offensive line, is whether to elevate rookie third-rounder Hroniss Grasu into the starting lineup, or to stay with Matt Slauson, the team’s best guard, at center and Omameh at left guard.

The injury to Rolle left the Bears with two rookies staffing their deep secondary – fourth-round pick Adrian Amos and Harold Jones-Quartey, waived this offseason by Arizona.

[MORE: Wild finish propels Bears to first win over the year over Raiders]

Rolle was able to return to the sidelines in the second half and get his first taste of coaching in what proved to be a critical situation. “If I can’t play, I gotta be good for something, right” Rolle said, managing a smile.

“That was extremely important to be, to be out there with my guys,” Rolle said. “It hurts me that I couldn’t be suited up with them but as long as my presence was there, as long as I could give them insight as to what I would be thinking, I think they played outstanding. Harold had to go in there in my place and I think he did an exceptional job. Adrian kept him in line and those guys just fighting, pushing.”

Amos has started all four games this season but Jones-Quartey, before Sunday, had played just 32 snaps on special teams, zero on defense. He moved up the depth chart this week when the Bears cut safety Brock Vereen.

On Sunday, he had the benefit of Rolle as a personal assistant.

“He gave me a couple things, to watch the play-action, things like that,” said Jones-Quartey. “He was very supportive on the sideline, coaching me up so I could do what I can to help the team win.”

Bears backfield ranked fourth-best in NFL

Bears backfield ranked fourth-best in NFL

The Chicago Bears have a really good problem in their backfield. Both Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen will demand touches in 2018 and are each starting-quality running backs. Howard is the more traditional first and second-down back while Cohen offers top-tier playmaking ability.

The duo is so talented that they were recently ranked the fourth-best backfield in the NFL.

The Chicago Bears' Jordan Howard has emerged as one of the NFL's top rushers. He finished his rookie season with 1,313 yards, second-most in the NFL. Last season, he rushed for 1,122 yards and 4.1 yards per carry even though Chicago had the league's least threatening passing attack (175.7 yards per game).

Howard isn't the only standout back on the roster, though. Tarik Cohen is a supremely talented runner and receiver and a perfect complement to Howard. Last season, he amassed 370 rushing yards, 53 receptions and 353 receiving yards.

The Bears' backfield was behind only the Rams, Saints and Chiefs.

Howard set Chicago's rookie rushing record with 1,313 yards in 2016 and became the first Bears running back to start his career with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. He should be the Bears' primary back, but coach Matt Nagy expressed genuine excitement over Cohen's skill set which suggests he plans on getting him the ball quite a bit this season.

Regardless of how the touches play out, the Bears will present opposing defenses with one of the most challenging ground games in the NFL.

    Tarik Cohen was NFL's best big-play RB in 2017

    Tarik Cohen was NFL's best big-play RB in 2017

    Tarik Cohen's rookie season with the Chicago Bears was an impressive blend of running, receiving and special teams play. He quickly became a household name. The combination of his diminutive frame and oversized personality made him a fan favorite, especially when he started gaining yards in chunks.

    In fact, of all running backs with a minimum of 80 carries last season, Cohen had the highest percentage of runs that went for 15 or more yards, according to Pro Football Focus.

    Cohen will have a big role in new coach Matt Nagy's offense this season because of everything he offers a play-caller. He's a weapon as a receiver out of the backfield and can chew up yards on the ground like any traditional running back. He's a hold-your-breath talent who can turn a bad play into a touchdown in the blink of an eye.

    Cohen had 370 rushing yards, 353 receiving yards and three offensive touchdowns in what can be described as a limited role last year. John Fox and Dowell Loggains didn't seem to ever figure out how to best use Cohen's skill set. That should be no issue for Nagy and Mark Helfrich, the team's new offensive coordinator, who both bring a creative offensive approach to Chicago.

    Jordan Howard will be the starter and will do most of the heavy lifting. But Cohen is going to have a much bigger role than he had as a rookie, and that should result in more big plays and points on the board.