LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP)The Chicago Bears returned to work Monday after their bye week elated to have several missing pieces back but without key players from their front line on both sides of the ball.
Right guard Kyle Long went on season-ending injured reserve because of a hip injury, and coach Matt Nagy said defensive end Akiem Hicks would miss time due to an elbow injury suffered Oct. 6 against the Oakland Raiders.
”They’re huge parts of the team in more ways than just personalities,” Nagy said. ”They’re some big dudes, now. You look at those two guys going against each other in training camp, they’re massive individuals.
”But it is what it is. We love those guys, and we appreciate them, but we can’t look back. We’ve got to go. I’m not going to let anybody sit here and sulk about what-if or anything. That’s where we’re at. There are all these other teams that are having a bunch of different injuries and situations that go on.”
Both players are former Pro Bowlers, Long from 2013-15 and Hicks last year.
Hicks still could go on injured reserve. Although Nagy said it’s possible Hicks would be back later this season, the Bears will assess his health this week and try to determine whether it would be better to simply put him on IR and be able to bring him back in eight weeks.
Long has been plagued by the hip injury since early in the season and tried playing through it. He is on IR for the fourth time in four years after starting out his career at two different positions in the first three years.
”It’s the tale of the league for you,” tackle Charles Leno Jr. said. ”He’s been through the highest of highs and the lowest of lows and that’s just how the league goes.”
Nagy called it particularly difficult to accept because Long had gone through his first healthy training camp and offseason in three years.
”And then you get a guy like Kyle, who’s poured his heart and soul into this organization and has worked really hard to be dominant in a lot of areas,” Nagy said. ”We appreciate that. I’ve only been with him for a year and a half, but I appreciate the way that he’s gone about things.”
The Bears have options at right guard, starting with veteran backup Ted Larsen. He practiced Monday after missing the last game with a knee injury. They could play Rashaad Coward, who is an offensive tackle now but played guard when Long missed the Sept. 29 win over Minnesota and Larsen was injured. Or they could promote rookie Alex Bars from the practice squad.
”Between the three of them, I think it will be fun for us to kind of work through that decision, where we want to go with that,” Nagy said. ”And then whoever it is, let’s go.”
Coward said he surprised himself with a successful effort at a new position against Minnesota.
”Yeah, because I hadn’t played guard all week (in practice),” he said. ”I was thrown in there, like, just do what you’ve got to do.
”Coaches were like, hey, this is what you’re supposed to do. At the end of the day, just keep it going.”
Replacing Hicks could be a little easier this week because the Bears hope to have starting defensive end Bilal Nichols back in the lineup.
Nichols has been out since suffering a broken hand in Week 2, but he practiced Monday. Nichols will wear a cast to play, like outside linebacker Leonard Floyd did last year.
”He’s giving me a lot of insight and what to expect and things that he did that helped him out a lot,” Nichols said.
The other positives on injuries involved the passing game, with quarterback Mitchell Trubisky throwing at Monday’s practice for the first time since he suffered a left shoulder injury on the sixth play of the Minnesota game. And wide receiver Taylor Gabriel practiced after suffering a concussion Sept. 23 at Washington.
Trubisky hasn’t been confirmed as a starter this weekend against New Orleans.
”He was throwing the ball, so I thought he looked good,” Nagy said. ”But we’ll see as the week goes exactly how he feels and where he’s at.”
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