The Bears’ active roster is as healthy as it’s been since Week 1, with only Bilal Nichols (questionable, knee) being listed on the final injury report for Sunday’s game vs. the Los Angeles Chargers.
Nichols, who returned last week to the lineup for the first time since breaking his hand in Week 1, is always limited Fridays, when the Bears practice indoors on turf at the Walter Payton Center, to preserve his knees. Special-teams stalwart Sherrick McManis, who left Sunday’s loss early with a concussion, cleared NFL protocol and was a full participant after missing the previous two practices.
It’s a different story for the 2-5 Chargers, who listed three starters — including their top edge rusher Melvin Ingram and No. 1 receiver Keenan Allen — as questionable and ruled out second-round rookie S Nasir Adderley and two of their top three defensive tackles, Brandon Mebane and Justin Jones.
Ingram has missed the previous three games with a hamstring injury, while Allen first popped up on the injury report Thursday with a new hamstring injury that sidelined him the past two days. The talented but reeling Chargers have first-rounders waiting to help fill those voids in Pro Bowl EDGE Joey Bosa, rookie Notre Dame product DT Jerry Tillery and WR Mike Williams.
Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said Friday that Allen will be a game-time decision, and that he won’t hesitate to play the NFL’s seventh-leading receiver if he proves he won’t further injure himself. Lynn also said Allen could be active but play situationally on a pitch count.
Regardless of whether one of the tougher covers in the game in Allen goes, the Bears clearly are the healthier team entering Sunday. If that sounds familiar, well, it’s only been five days since the Saints’ all-backup backfield came into Soldier Field and embarrassed the Bears, preceding another week of long looks in the mirror at Halas Hall and even a players-only meeting.
Still, the matchup with the NFL’s 21st-ranked run defense, one without its top run stuffer in Mebane, seemingly points to a few, let’s call them, desired developments likely at Soldier Field after a historically pass-heavy game plan last week contributed in the loss. Matt Nagy even had some fun with reporters Friday on the subject.
“We’re coming off a seven-attempt game, so we’re definitely going to run the ball more than seven times,” Nagy said. “But knowing all that you know, you could look at it the other way, too, that maybe they think (we’ll be run-heavy) and now we’re just going to throw it. Maybe we’re going to do that. I mean, who knows? Yeah, maybe we’re going to run it eight times, not seven, right? At least there’s steady incremental improvement.”
It’s admirable that Nagy can have some fun at his own expense after a week of unrivaled adversity around Halas Hall during his short tenure. Even his choice of words — “steady incremental improvement” — which the Bears first posited this summer regarding their expectations for Mitch Trubisky, who obviously hasn’t fulfilled them thus far.
But suffice to say, there won’t be much laughing if the Bears don’t snap their two-game losing skid Sunday, ideally while taking some heat off Trubisky by putting the heat on the Bolts’ banged-up front with top pick RB David Montgomery and a struggling O-line that certainly seems ready to spend more time on the attack.