Bears HC Matt Nagy Gives Odd Answers as Key Starters Miss Practice

Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy

Getty Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy.

The  injury report for the Chicago Bears Week 13 heading into their game against the Detroit Lions was more than a tad concerning. While no major issues or injuries have been confirmed ahead of Sunday’s game, more than a few eyebrow-raising things popped up on the team’s most recent injury report.

Defensive lineman Akiem Hicks, offensive lineman Charles Leno Jr., linebacker Khalil Mack and star wide receiver Allen Robinson were all limited in practice, and standout rookie wideout Darnell Mooney did not practice at all. All are questionable to play against the Lions, as are quarterback Nick Foles and offensive lineman Germain Ifedi.

Robinson left practice after his knee bothered him, a move Nagy said was precautionary.

There is also every indication all players listed as questionable should be ready to play on Sunday — the concerning part is who didn’t practice at all.

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LB Roquan Smith, OL Alex Bars Did Not Practice

Neither starting linebacker Roquan Smith nor guard Alex Bars practiced Friday for non-injury reasons.

Smith has been playing lights out this season, arguably at an All-Pro level. He has been one of the team’s more consistent defenders, and after he missed time last year due to unspecified personal reasons, his sudden, unexplained absence Friday is slightly concerning.

Bars was a key part of a re-shuffled offensive line that included Sam Mustipher at center, Cody Whitehair at left guard, Ifedi at right tackle and Leno Jr. at left tackle. Bars took Ifedi’s previous position at right guard, and the unit looked more capable than previous groupings, so to have him suddenly miss practice is slightly concerning.

Neither Bars not Smith was given an injury designation for Sunday’s game, althought Nagy noted he expected Smith to play.

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Are the Absences Related to COVID-19? Nagy Won’t Say…

Here’s what Bears head coach Matt Nagy said when he was asked whether any of the team’s absences Friday were COVID-19 related:

“It’s all, I guess, a little bit – I can’t get into all that,” Nagy said. “I apologize. This is, just so you understand, some of this stuff I don’t know what all I can and can’t say.”

Nagy was also evasive Wednesday when asked about whether Foles was healthy enough to start against the Packers last Sunday. “I understand your question but I’m not gonna get into any of those what-ifs. We’re focused right now on doing everything we can to go 1-0 with Detroit. Nick was not ready. Mitch was ready and that’s how we attacked that,” Nagy said.

OK, sure. But it’s one thing for coaches to be coy and elusive with the media to not give strategy away, and it’s another thing entirely to string a bunch of non-related phrases and clichés together and call it an answer. At present, Nagy’s responses have been falling in the latter category.

It will become obvious soon enough whether Smith’s and Bars’ sudden absences are due to coronavirus issues or precautions. Hopefully for Chicago’s sake, that’s not the case.

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