The Chicago Bears now have three players listed on their reserve/COVID-19 list, adding defensive lineman John Jenkins to the list Thursday. Jenkins joins tight end Eric Saubert and undrafted rookie running back Artavis Pierce as the only three Bears players to be placed on the list.
Pierce, who could ideally provide the team with some much-needed depth at running back position, is a likely practice squad addition of he doesn’t secure a roster spot. He was the first player on the team to be put on the list, and Saubert shortly followed.
Jenkins, now the team’s third member to be placed on the list, will miss a minimum of two weeks just prior to the start of training camp. It’s certainly not an ideal start, particularly because starting nose tackle Eddie Goldman chose to opt out of the upcoming season, and Jenkins is currently the only backup nose tackle on the team. But this is going to be a wholly unique and unusual season, and the teams that best adapt and evolve will likely be the ones still standing at year’s end.
Jenkins Has Not Necessarily Tested Positive for COVID-19
Bears’ GM Ryan Pace met with the media via Zoom Wednesday, and he clarified that when players are put on the reserve/COVID-19 list, it doesn’t necessarily mean they have tested positive for COVID-19.
“It could be a situation where a player has been in close contact with someone who has tested positive, and we’re just keeping him away from the facility,” Pace said, also noting: “We’re not going to get into details just out of respect for the player.”
While we don’t — and likely won’t — know which players have tested positive for the coronavirus and which have not, missing the first few weeks of training camp will be a bit of a hurdle to overcome, and it could be especially devastating for all three of these players, and for very different reasons. While Jenkins is a roster lock with Goldman out for the year, both Saubert and Pierce are fighting for roster spots, and not being on the field won’t help their chances.
Hopefully, none of the players have tested positive for the virus or are experiencing any symptoms.
Saubert Will Be Likely Cut, Pierce Should Make Practice Squad
When Chicago signed Jimmy Graham and Demetrius Harris before later drafting Cole Kmet, it was clear the three would occupy roster spots. Tight end Jesper Horstead is also a favorite to make the team, and now, considering his early absence from training camp, J.P. Holtz has to be favored over Saubert, as well. Even if the Bears decide to carry five tight ends, it’s unlikely Saubert will be one of them.
Pierce’s role with the Bears is a bit harder to predict. While David Montgomery and Tarik Cohen are sure things, Ryan Nall has minimal NFL experience, but his work on special teams gives him the edge over Pierce. Nall is currently the team’s third-string back, but Pierce will be looking to challenge that. Unfortunately, the challenge will have to wait, at least a few weeks.