Inside linebacker Roquan Smith, who is on pace for an all-pro season and has performed like the Bears’ best player this season, did not participate in practice Friday. Coach Matt Nagy said the absence was not injury-related. Guard Alex Bars also was not at practice, but, like Smith, curiously didn’t have an injury designation, either.
Pressed about whether the absences were related to the coronavirus, or to contact tracing, Nagy wouldn’t say. The Bears, by rule, must put anyone who’s tested positive or been a close contact on the NFL’s reserve/COVID-19 list.
Nagy was asked if either absence was coronavirus-related.
“I can’t get into all that,” he said. “I apologize. Just so you all understand, I don’t know what I can and can’t say.”
Asked about Smith, Nagy said that “I do expect him to play” against the Lions.
That could change, of course. If both players are positive, the Bears would be forced to brace for the potential of an outbreak with their home game against the Lions looming on Sunday. If either is ruled to be a close contact, they would be forced to stay away from the team for five days since their last contact with someone who tested positive.
Even without Smith and Bars having an injury designation, Friday’s injury report was the most notable of the season for the Bears. Receivers Allen Robinson and Darnell Mooney both turned up with knee injuries; Mooney didn’t practice and Robinson was limited after getting hurt during Friday’s practice.
Nagy said he didn’t believe Robinson’s injury was serious, but that he needed more information.
“With that coming up in practice, it was something that we wanted to make sure that we’re trying to be smart here with some of that,” he said. “And make sure that we’re staying more on the conservative side and being precautionary with both of those guys.”
Star edge rusher Khalil Mack practiced for the first time after sitting out all week with back issues. The Bears said his absence was precautionary, and they expect him to play. He was ruled questionable for the game, though, as was defensive lineman Akiem Hicks, who hurt his hamstring/Achilles against the Vikings and returned to practice Thursday. He participated again Friday.
Quarterback Nick Foles, who practiced in full for the first time Thursday since hurting his right hip against the Vikings, did the same Friday. He’ll be Mitch Trubisky’s backup Sunday. Even though he’s officially questionable, the Bears expect him to play.
Charles Leno (toe) and Germain Ifedi (calf), who were the Bears’ two starting tackles against the Packers, are also questionable. Both were limited in practice, but seem on pace to face the Lions.
Outside linebacker James Vaughters (knee) and inside linebacker Josh Woods (foot) are questionable, too, after Vaughters didn’t practice Friday.
The Lions’ injury report is fraught, too. Receiver Kenny Golladay, a St. Rita and NIU alum, will miss his fifth-straight game with a hip injury. Running back D’Andre Swift is questionable with an illness after having a concussion. Cornerback Jeff Okudah, the Lions’ first-round pick, will miss his second game against the Bears this year, this time with a shoulder problem.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford is questionable because of a thumb injury, but practiced all week and played with the same injury against the Texans.