Will Eddie Goldman play in the Chicago Bears opener after missing practice with knee and ankle injuries? 3 things we learned at Halas Hall.

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·5 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

The Chicago Bears practiced Wednesday afternoon at Halas Hall, continuing their preparation for Sunday night’s season opener against the Los Angeles Rams.

Here are three things we learned in Lake Forest.

1. Eddie Goldman did not practice, and Khalil Mack was limited.

The Bears released their first injury report of Week 1 with Goldman popping up on the list with a knee/ankle issue. Coach Matt Nagy was not available to the media Wednesday to offer details, so it remains a guessing game as to whether Goldman’s availability for Sunday is in serious doubt.

Goldman is attempting to return after opting out of the 2020 season because of COVID-19 concerns. The talented nose tackle missed 10 days last month after testing positive for the virus.

Goldman played 10 snaps in the preseason finale against the Tennessee Titans on Aug. 28 and recorded two solo tackles. Defensive coordinator Sean Desai said Wednesday that Goldman’s return has been encouraging.

“He came back in shape — mentally in shape and physically in shape,” Desai said. “And you saw when he played that he can still be an X-factor.”

Tight end Jimmy Graham also sat out practice Wednesday, given the day off by the coaching staff. Khalil Mack (groin), Robert Quinn (back) and Darnell Mooney (back) were limited.

The Bears are hoping to keep Mack off the injury report in 2021 as much as possible. A year ago, he was listed as questionable for 10 of the 16 regular-season games as he fought through issues with his back, ankle and shoulder.

In other roster news, the Bears signed defensive linemen Margus Hunt and Damion Square to their practice squad and let running back Artavis Pierce and defensive tackle Auzoyah Alufohai go.

Hunt is a native of Estonia and was a second-round pick by the Cincinnati Bengals in 2013. He spent four seasons with the Bengals but has bounced around since, playing for the Indianapolis Colts (2017-2019) and New Orleans Saints (2020) before returning to the Bengals last season. He spent three weeks with the Arizona Cardinals in training camp last month but was cut last week.

2. Andy Dalton is ready for his first start as a Bear.

The veteran quarterback expressed eagerness Wednesday about finally having the chance to take a meaningful test with the first-unit offense. Dalton played two preseason games last month but largely without any of the offense’s top playmakers and without the first-string line intact.

Sunday’s game will give Dalton a chance to lead the offense. And while much of Chicago remains eager for rookie Justin Fields to supplant Dalton as the starter, Dalton knows he must keep his focus calibrated properly.

“The worst thing you can do is look over your shoulder,” he said. “Understanding that is key. We’re talking about tuning out the stuff you don’t need to focus on and knowing where you need to put your time and effort.”

Dalton signed a one-year, $10 million contract with the Bears in March for another chance to start. Six weeks later, the Bears drafted Fields with the No. 11 pick and the dynamics at Halas Hall changed significantly.

“There’s a lot that has gone on since March,” Dalton said. “But all that has led to this point right here. Regardless of everything that has gone on, we’re here at Week 1. And this is exactly what I wanted. I wanted this opportunity. Now we’re looking forward to making the most of it.”

Offensive coordinator Bill Lazor spent three seasons with Dalton with the Bengals, first as his quarterbacks coach and later as offensive coordinator. Lazor emphasized Wednesday that Dalton’s play speed, cadence and tempo getting in and out of the huddle are helping to lift the Bears offense.

“And there’s no doubt his confidence has affected the offense,” Lazor added. “His competitiveness is definitely special. Hopefully when the real lights are on and we get going on Sunday night, that shows up for everybody and it spreads.”

3. Rookie running back Khalil Herbert will get the first crack at replacing Cordarrelle Patterson as the kickoff returner.

Herbert led the ACC last season at Virginia Tech with 26.9 yards per return. The Bears hope he can have an early impact on their return game after Patterson signed with the Atlanta Falcons in free agency.

Special teams coordinator Chris Tabor has seen gradual growth from Herbert since his arrival.

“He’s starting to hit it downhill,” Tabor said. “He can make people miss. The other thing I like about him is on contact, he gets extra yards.”

Tabor also praised Herbert’s wiring.

“Everything is hooked up nice,” Tabor said. “He sits in the front row. He takes great notes. There’s a look about him that it’s important to him.

“I might describe something in a meeting and he’ll come up and say, ‘Coach, can you put together a cut-up of other players doing that?’ So I will and he does those things. Then if I see it in practice, I remind him, ‘There it is. That’s what you were talking about. You just did it.’ Now he has a feel for it.”

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting