From Teven Jenkins to Akiem Hicks: The top 10 injury and absence concerns for the Chicago Bears right now

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

Chicago Bears defensive lineman Akiem Hicks was at practice Tuesday morning at Halas Hall. Until he wasn’t.

Shortly after stretching began, Hicks walked off the back practice fields and was spotted driving away from the facility soon after.

Coach Matt Nagy isn’t available to reporters after practice, and a team spokesman declined to provide any explanation for Hicks’ abrupt exit.

What is this all about?

Hicks’ mystery departure was the latest twist in an August full of unwanted absences for the Bears. A new injury setback? Hurt feelings? More on that shortly.

The Bears practiced Tuesday without four defensive starters and four of their top 10 offensive lineman. That list doesn’t include offensive tackle Jason Peters, whose signing became official Monday. But Peters, according to Nagy, still is going through the NFL’s COVID-19 testing process, and there is no firm word on when his first practice might be.

With the second preseason game Saturday and the season opener just 22 days later, the team’s health issues are becoming increasingly significant. With that in mind, here’s a ranking of the Bears’ 10 most notable injuries and absences right now.

Teven Jenkins

This is veering toward Kevin White territory at this point with a seemingly minor July health issue mushrooming into something far more concerning. The Bears’ attempts at the outset of camp to downplay the severity of Jenkins’ back injury and Nagy’s assertions a week later that things were “trending in the right direction” have proved hollow.

Jenkins, who the Bears originally hoped could emerge as their starter at left tackle, missed his 15th practice of camp Tuesday morning and doesn’t seem to be anywhere close to returning. It would be a stunner if the rookie was able to play in next week’s preseason finale in Nashville against the Tennessee Titans. And there’s a real chance the Bears will place Jenkins on injured reserve in Week 1 to free up a roster spot.

The signing of the 39-year-old Peters, a six-time All-Pro, may wind up being serendipitous and just what Nagy needs to solidify the left tackle position. But’s also a desperation signing that became necessary because of Jenkins’ back problems. The Bears traded up to draft Jenkins at No. 39. There are increasing outside fears that it was a costly swing and miss.

Robert Quinn

The 31-year-old pass rusher has been battling his own back issues since the spring. And after flashing a couple of times during the first quarter against the Miami Dolphins on Saturday, Quinn has an ankle injury that has kept him out of practice the last two days.

The Bears guaranteed Quinn $30 million on a five-year, $70 million deal in March 2020. Quinn responded with only two sacks, the lowest total of his 10-year career. At this point, it would be foolish for the Bears to expect Quinn to be a healthy, consistent game-wrecker for all 17 games. The development of second-year outside linebacker Trevis Gipson and the production of veteran Jeremiah Attaochu take on greater meaning.

Tarik Cohen

Cohen tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee 11 months ago when he was run into while making a fair catch against the Atlanta Falcons. The running back’s road to recovery hasn’t been an expressway. Cohen has been on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list since reporting to camp last month. And from the looks of his gait as he moves around the Halas Hall sidelines at practices, he doesn’t appear close to a return to a full strength.

The Bears have decent depth at running back with Damien Williams and Khalil Herbert establishing themselves as reliable backups behind David Montgomery. Artavis Pierce had the Bears’ longest play from scrimmage in the preseason opener, busting off a 51-yard run in the fourth quarter.

Cohen’s talents as a punt returner will be missed until the Bears find a suitable replacement. And Nagy might have to go without Cohen as a chess piece in the offense for the foreseeable future.

Akiem Hicks

Hicks was on the back practice fields Tuesday morning but then departed. The Bears were mum when pressed for a post-practice update, leaving Nagy to offer some sort of explanation Wednesday.

Hicks, who sat out the team’s July 29 practice with what Nagy called foot soreness, has been committed to a boycott of media interviews since last season ended. Last week, agent Drew Rosenhaus made it clear that Hicks wants a contract extension ASAP. That’s a move Bears general manager Ryan Pace isn’t likely to prioritize given the team’s salary-cap restrictions and the fact Hicks will turn 32 in November.

So how does this all tie together? It’s difficult to say. Hicks isn’t talking, and the Bears have little incentive to detail any behind-the-scenes friction. But it certainly is worth keeping an eye on as the season closes in. Rumors that Hicks could be traded bounced through league circles in the spring. Could such chatter pick back up? It’s the NFL. Stranger things have happened.

Danny Trevathan

The 10th-year linebacker has been dealing with knee soreness for the past week. The decision to be careful with his return makes sense. But Trevathan got off to a slow start in 2020, and the Bears would rather not worry about a repeat in 2021.

With Trevathan out, fellow veteran Alec Ogletree — who became a Bear on Aug. 4 — has played well in the middle of the defense and seems to be positioning himself to make the initial 53-man roster in two weeks.

James Daniels

The Bears came into training camp feeling confident that a sturdy and steady offensive line would become a major catalyst for a resurgence in 2021. But the last three weeks have been filled with setbacks and there has been little continuity to speak of up front.

Daniels, the projected starter at left guard, just can’t seem to keep himself available. He missed the final 11 games last season with a torn pectoral muscle. Now he’s working through a quadriceps issue that has been a hindrance since Aug. 3 with nine consecutive practices missed. Only 10 more practices remain before the Bears are in Week 1. The clock is ticking.

Germain Ifedi

Ifedi moved from guard to right tackle down the stretch of last season and played pretty well there. The Bears believe he can remain a reliable starter in that position.

But Ifedi strained a hip flexor during the conditioning test on the first day of training camp and was immediately put on the shelf. His return from the PUP list should come soon, perhaps this week, allowing him enough runway to get in shape for the opener against the Los Angeles Rams. But as with all things involving the offensive line right now, any optimism should be cautious.

Larry Borom

The Bears coaching staff was impressed with Borom’s footwork and composure during the first practice in full pads at Family Fest at Soldier Field. The fifth-round pick out of Missouri handled himself well in his opportunity to take valuable first-unit reps at left tackle that day. But he wound up in the concussion protocol the next day and hasn’t practiced since.

Asked about that lengthy absence, Nagy was hesitant to say much.

“With that whole concussion protocol, to each their own,” Nagy said.

The window of opportunity for Borom to prove himself a reliable starting option at the most important position up front seems to be closing. Peters’ arrival will change the equation as well.

Roquan Smith

Smith’s availability for Week 1 is a top priority. So it’s no surprise the Bears are taking a cautious approach in easing the inside linebacker back from the groin injury he suffered two weeks ago.

Nagy emphasized Tuesday morning that there is little internal concern about Smith’s health.

“No news is probably good news with him,” Nagy said.

Still, Smith has missed six consecutive practices. The concern shouldn’t be elevating, but it also won’t disappear until he’s back and able to string together a week or two of work without aggravating anything.

David Montgomery

Montgomery had only one rushing attempt in the preseason opener, a 3-yard run on the Bears’ first play from scrimmage. He hobbled to the sideline after that play and couldn’t make it through Monday’s practice with what the team called “general soreness.”

Not to fear: Montgomery was back in action Tuesday and able to participate for much of the practice. He looked good. Nagy expressed zero worries about the running back’s physical state. And one of the key cogs in the Bears offense seems to be right back in working order.

See? There can be promising news for the Bears on the injury front after all.

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