LAKE FOREST, Ill. - It’s a difficult time to be an offensive lineman for the Chicago Bears even with the team sitting at 4-1 on the season.
The run blocking has bogged down and left guard James Daniels suffered what has been reported as a season-ending pectoral injury. Even practice squad linemen have it tough, as Bears reserve tackle Badara Traore went on the Reserve/COVID-19 list Saturday after a positive test for the coronavirus.
At least the Bears and coach Matt Nagy are thankful for one thing.
“The timing of this, what happened with our positive test, you know you never want it to happen but when it did happen you know it happened at a good time for us because it, you know we had guys out of the building, which is good,” Nagy said Monday.
The Bears played last Thursday night, so Halas Hall was closed over the weekend, and Traore was not around the team on the sideline in the game or at the team facility after Friday.
Nagy said practice squad players were asked to stay home Monday and they will return for Wednesday’s practice. The Monday practice was switched to a walk-through for the 53-man roster from a faster-paced, brief workout. On Tuesday they are off.
“I feel like for us as a team, as players we’re taking the proper and necessary precautions to maintain our safety. But at the end of the day this is a very unknown thing when it comes to just how the virus is spreading and things like that,” wide receiver Allen Robinson said. “All you can do is hope that nobody else is in the crossfire.”
Concern about linemen who might develop the virus because they were around Trarore seems to be small, according to right guard Germain Ifedi.
“The crazy thing about this virus is it works in weird ways,” Ifedi said. “I’ve had people close to me who have had it and I was around it for a long period of time and didn’t get it. So I don’t worry about that.
“I just hope he’s OK and not showing symptoms, and am just glad that we’re getting tested every day. It just heightens your sense of we’ve got to wear a mask.”
The offensive line will have a different left guard starter when the Bears play at Carolina on Sunday, most likely Alex Bars for Daniels. The second-year player from Notre Dame replaced Daniels after the injury against the Buccaneers and played almost all of the second half without many bad mistakes.
“He had one or two in there,” Nagy said. “There was one (sack) in there that they got; that’s a part of this game. But I have a lot of confidence in him.”
The chore facing the line as a group is finding a way to run better than during the last two games. Chicago has run for 63 yards total after rushing for 414 yards in the first three games.
It was part of the problem that caused Nagy to rant about his offense on Friday after the game, but he remains positive the Bears can turn it back around after facing strong run defenses against Indianapolis and Tampa Bay.
“I have a lot of faith in our run game, I really do, and different ways how we are going to get back to it,” Nagy said. “I feel good about that. There is no panic at all.
“I know for me that part is exciting to figure out ways to get it back on track because that is ultimately going to help our offense.