Starting the season against the defending NFC champions is a big enough challenge on its own, but doing so without a handful of starters could make for a more demanding task.
The Reports: Dan Wiederer of the Chicago Tribune reports left guard Kyle Long (ankle), wide receiver Markus Wheaton (finger), and cornerback Prince Amukamara (ankle) did not participate in today’s practice. Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times adds outside linebackers Pernell McPhee (knee) and Sam Acho (ankle), defensive end Jonathan Bullard (glute), cornerback Sherrick McManis (hamstring), and safety Eddie Jackson (groin) were limited participants, as well. Sigh.
Some specifics: Long’s status, you’ll recall, has been up in the air all summer, but it did appear as though things were going well lately. In early August, for example, head coach John Fox said Long was “on target” to start the regular season opener, and it wasn’t out of the realm of possibilities that he could be ready to roll for the games that mattered despite not playing any preseason matches. Fox remained hopeful that Long would be ready for action when the time came to start the season, but cautioned that he would rehab until he was medically cleared.
Amukamara injured his ankle on the first play from scrimmage in the Bears’ preseason Week 3 win against the Tennessee Titans and did not play in the preseason finale against the Cleveland Browns.
A little more: One player not mentioned on the injury report was inside linebacker Danny Trevathan, which is a great sign heading into the Chicago Bears’ Week 1 matchup against the Atlanta Falcons. Trevathan didn’t play in any of the Bears’ four preseason games, but he did travel with the team (but did not play) in Week 3, and is listed on the depth chart as one of the team’s two starters at inside linebacker. Having Trevathan in the lineup against a powerful Falcons rushing attack helps even the scales in what could otherwise be a lopsided matchup in favor of Atlanta.
The conclusion: As it stands, it’s possible the Bears could start the season facing Julio Jones without their top cornerback and the Falcons’ front seven without the team’s starting left guard. It’s not quite what the Bears were hoping for when they started the 2017 season with a clean slate, but we’ll see if any of the Bears on the injury report make progress as the week goes on.