The health of the Bears will only really matter on Sept. 13 when the Green Bay Packers materialize in Soldier Field. But the Bears continue to have troubling nicks and bumps, and it is only speculation which are serious and which will mend as early as Saturday for the third preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
The latest came on Tuesday when linebacker Pernell McPhee, one of the foundation pillars of the changing Bears defense, was not at practice due to a chest injury. That general description has had ominous aftershocks, as recently as last season when guard Matt Slauson was forced onto injured reserve and missed the entire half of 2014 with a chest injury.
[RELATED - Matt Slauson: Eddie Goldman is 'playing beyond his years']
In four seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, McPhee missed only four games, all in 2012 with a thigh injury.
Left tackle Jermon Bushrod left practice early with a back problem that has cost him practice time through this offseason. He has missed only two games over the last five years, both in 2014 with knee and ankle injuries.
The Bears are perilously thin at tackle, with neither Jordan Mills nor Charles Leno Jr. stepping firmly enough forward to seize the right-tackle job so far. Leno stepped in for Bushrod on Tuesday and Mills, demoted last week in favor of Leno, stepped in at right tackle. After that, versatile Michael Ola is next up and Ola did not impress enough last year and this offseason to be in the current competition for the right-tackle job.
[NBC SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]
All of this is on top of three of the Bears’ top four wide receivers – Alshon Jeffery, rookie Kevin White, Marquess Wilson – all out with leg issues.
JJ Stankevitz, Cam Ellis and Paul Aspan are back with their training camp preview of the Bears' defense, looking at if it's fair to expect this group to take a step back without Vic Fangio (2:00) or if it's possible to repeat as the league's No. 1 defense (10:00). Plus, the guys look at which players the Bears need to improve to remain one of the NFL's best defenses (15:15), debate if Leonard Floyd can be better (20:00) and look at the future of the defense as a salary cap crunch looms after 2019 (25:00).
Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:
NFL.com recently ranked all of the league's head coaches, because the football season may end but creating content never will.
The top tier consists of all the usual suspects ... except for the guy that literally won the league's award for best coach last season.
Matt Nagy came in at 14 on this list, and not even the highest-ranked NFC North coach. The reasoning is a tad suspect; here's what they had to say:
Matt Nagy more than delivered in his first year as the Bears' head coach, taking Chicago to the postseason for the first time since the 2010 season. What's interesting about Nagy is that his side of the ball is offense, and prior to getting hired by the Bears, he was known for his work with quarterbacks in Kansas City. Yet, it was Vic Fangio's defense that did most of the heavy lifting to get Chicago to the playoffs. A head coach does much more than run one side of the ball, though. In fact, some of them don't do that at all. They run the office, in some respects. Nagy clearly set a tone in the building, so to speak, which should not be taken lightly. Nor should Nagy's work with Mitch Trubisky, who showed improvement from Year 1 to Year 2. Why is Reich ahead of Rivera but not Nagy? Well, Nagy has yet to achieve postseason success and had stronger personnel than Reich did in 2018.
Is this fair? Probably not! But is this important? Definitely not! Still - give your incumbent COY some more love, NFL. Club Dub! Yelling boom! The visors!