Heading into their most important game to date, the Chicago Bears will be without running back Damien Williams, who was placed on the reserve-COVID-19 list.
The team made the announcement via Twitter on October 14, and with a huge NFC North showdown against the Green Bay Packers looming on the 17th, this is a huge blow to the offense, particularly with starter David Montgomery currently on the injured reserve list.
Williams had 64 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries (that’s 4.0 yards per rush) in relief of Montgomery in Chicago’s Week 5 win over the Las Vegas Raiders, and he has 32 carries for 137 yards and two TDs to go with 10 receptions for 61 yards on the season. He has been solid in a limited capacity this season, and now, with their top two backs out, the Bears will be looking to rookie Khalil Herbert and perennial practice squad member Ryan Nall to carry the load against the division-leading Packers.
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Sixth-Rounder Khalil Herbert is About to Get His Shot
The Bears drafted Herbert out of Virginia Tech in the sixth round this year (217th overall), and he has been impressive in limited opportunities so far this season. Herbert was the team’s leading rusher in Chicago’s 20-9 win over Las Vegas, netting 75 yards on 18 carries (that’s 4.1 yards per carry).
He has just 21 career rushes, which is a concern, but he looked impressive against the Raiders’ defense.
Nall, who has been primarily a special teams contributor during his time on the active roster, has five career carries and eight receptions for 67 yards and a score. He was elevated from the practice squad for the second week in a row this week.
Artavis Pierce is also currently on the Bears’ practice squad, and could see his number called soon. Pierce was on Chicago’s active roster for five games last year, rushing six times for 34 yards and a score.
With Williams now out, this is a backfield that reeks of inexperience — but there’s also a huge opportunity in front of these young running backs — Herbert, especially. The Packers are 11th in the league against the run, allowing just over 102 yards per game to opposing teams, so it won’t be easy, but if Herbert can impress — particularly in a game this huge against Chicago’s oldest rival — he can go a long way in terms of solidifying his spot on the roster moving forward.
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Bears Also Have Concerning Number of Starters on Injury Report
Chicago’s injury report on Thursday had several key players on both sides of the ball listed, including wide receiver Allen Robinson, who missed his second straight practice with an ankle issue, and defenders Khalil Mack (foot) and Akiem Hicks (groin).
Mack and Hicks also missed several days of practice heading into last week’s matchup against the Raiders, and while Hicks did not play, Mack did and was dominant, netting a sack, a QB hit, and a tackle for loss. It’s likely Hicks will miss again, as groin injuries tend to stick around, but Mack and Robinson are likely taking extra precautionary rest days and should be able to go — although A-Rob will be one to monitor moving forward, as his injury is a new one.