Jordan Howard declined to speak to the assembled media for the second straight week, but once again, the Chicago Bears will face injury related questions regarding their star running back.
Adam Hoge of WGN Radio reports Howard left Raymond James Stadium with his right arm in a sling. If you’ll recall, Howard was placed on the injury report this past week because of a shoulder injury after landing awkwardly while scoring a touchdown in Week 1. Howard was limited in practice, but still started and played 31 snaps in the Bears’ 29-7 loss to the Buccaneers.
The Pro Bowl running back was largely ineffective on Sunday, running for seven yards on nine carries. That brings his season total to 52 yards on 22 carries – or a 2.4 yards per carry average. Two games into his second season, Howard’s production has taken a dip and he’s struggled with an injury.
An injury that keeps Howard out of action for an extended amount of time is bad news for a Bears offense expected to be reliant on a heavy dose of run plays and play action passing. Howard’s health will be monitored closely leading up to the team’s Week 3 matchup against a Pittsburgh Steelers defense that has limited opposing running backs to 3.0 yards per carry in wins against the Cleveland Browns and Minnesota Vikings.
Howard’s injury status isn’t the only update worth monitoring after Sunday’s loss.
- Inside linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski left for the locker room in the first quarter after suffering an injured pectoral muscle. If reading that gives you flashbacks, it’s because Jerrell Freeman was placed on injured reserve with a torn pectoral muscle earlier in the week. It’s an injury that pushed Kwiatkoski into the starting role in the first place. Kwiatkoski’s return was listed as questionable, but he did not make his way back into the game during the second half.
- Left guard Tom Compton was removed from the game in the second quarter after suffering a hip injury. Originally listed as doubtful to return, Compton did not make it back into the game. In an attempt to replace Compton – who was starting for a second consecutive game in place of a still recovering Kyle Long – the Bears slid center Cody Whitehair to left guard, then inserted Hroniss Grasu at center.
- Unfortunately, that wasn’t the only offensive line shakeup. Right guard Josh Sitton left the game in the second half because of a rib injury, which forced the Bears into placing Bradley Sowell (the team’s last available offensive lineman) to the lineup. Sowell played 25 snaps at left guard, while Cody Whitehair switched spots and moved to right guard. Sowell earned a 58.1 grade from Pro Football Focus for his efforts.
- The Sowell-Grasu-Whitehair trio played 25 snaps together on Sunday, with Grasu taking 40 snaps at center.
- If you’re looking for a silver lining, it’s not easy, but it’s worth noting two players were spared serious injury news despite missing a handful of plays. Wide receiver Kendall Wright walked off the field during the Bears’ last offensive drive of the first half favoring his arm, but returned in the second half. Wright finished with seven catches and a team-best 69 receiving yards. Akiem Hicks received some on-field medical attention in the fourth quarter after he was slow to get up after the conclusion of a play. Hicks didn’t miss much time, returning to the field quickly.