Bears Starter Suffers Setback Injury During Minicamp

Bears practice squad

Getty Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy saw a veteran defender poached from the practice squad.

This is not the news fans of the Chicago Bears wanted to hear.

After a disappointing 2020 season, the hope was that pass rusher Robert Quinn would get off to a fast start in year two with the Bears, but instead, the veteran outside linebacker has suffered what head coach Matt Nagy says is a “little” lower back injury. According to Nagy, the Bears are keeping Quinn on the sidelines for the team’s three-day veteran minicamp as a precautionary measure.

“Robert just has a little lower back that we’re just trying not to mess with too much,” Nagy said on June 15. “With where he’s at … probably more conservativeness with us with a lot of players in these camps, making sure we’re in a good place, especially when you don’t see a lot of these guys and this is the first time you’re seeing them for a while. He does have a little lower back. We’re probably more conservative on that than anything.”

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Quinn Could Have Used a Solid Start to Year 2 With Bears

Quinn signed one of the most heavily scrutinized contracts in recent memory when general manager Ryan Pace brought him on board last year, signing him to a five-year, $70 million deal with $30 million guaranteed.

The 31-year-old linebacker finished his 2020 season with 2.0 sacks, six quarterback hits, three forced fumbles and no tackles for loss. Quinn played just 51% of the team’s defensive snaps last season, and fans and analysts alike viewed his first year with the team as a major letdown, particularly because he had led the Dallas Cowboys in sacks the year prior with 11.5.

A hot start, even in minicamp, would have benefitted the veteran simply because it may have calmed a few concerns about his play while also raising a few eyebrows in a good way. Instead, new questions about his play, durability and worth have arisen, “little” injury or not. The Chicago Tribune reported last December that Quinn may have been playing through a condition called “drop foot,” which is characterized by difficulty raising the foot, and is caused by a nerve issue.

Nagy denied that report, but regardless, more injury news attached to his name isn’t how Quinn or the Bears wanted things to start off this year.

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Quinn Could See His Role Reduced Significantly if He Doesn’t Perform in 2021

The Bears have already suggested Quinn’s role could be reduced this coming season, when outside linebackers coach Bill Shuey told the media in May the team may limit his snaps in order to better use him in certain pass-rushing situations. New defensive coordinator Sean Desai, a disciple of the highly respected Vic Fangio, will be tasked with how to best utilize Quinn’s pass-rushing skills.

“2021 is gonna be about coach Desai and this defense,” Nagy added Tuesday. “I’m excited to see what happens as we get into training camp and into the preseason and then the season. … We have a veteran defense of some guys that are ready to do some great things. But they know that there can be zero complacency. And that’s what we’re talking about in these team meetings. You can’t be complacent.”

Much will be determined when Chicago opens training camp on July 27. If Quinn appears healthy, it should be all systems go. If the injury lingers, however, that’ll be a very bad sign heading toward the preseason and an extended 17-game regular season.

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