The Chicago Bears have shut down three more players ahead of their regular-season finale against the Minnesota Vikings and promoted three defenders — including a former third-round pick — to fill their spots on the 53-man roster.
According to the NFL’s official transaction wire for January 4, the Bears placed right guards Teven Jenkins (neck) and Michael Schofield III (knee) and rookie cornerback Josh Blackwell (undisclosed) on injured reserve on Wednesday, effectively ending each of their seasons with one game left on the schedule. Jenkins and Schofield both exited Week 17’s loss to the Detroit Lions with their injuries, but Blackwell’s issue is a mystery.
With three roster spots opened up, the Bears also promoted inside linebacker DeMarquis Gates, outside linebacker Terrell Lewis and defensive end Jalyn Holmes from the practice squad to their active roster for their final game against the Vikings. Terrell was a 2020 third-round pick for the Los Angeles Rams who started seven games for them in his first three seasons, while Holmes is a 2018 fourth-rounder who has nine starts and 33 games of experience over his career.
The Bears will now have at least 13 players finishing the season on injured reserve after shutting down several of their starters over the past month. Most recently, middle linebacker Jack Sanborn and cornerbacks Jaylon Johnson and Kindle Vildor were placed on IR in the week leading up to Christmas, while others such as wide receiver Darnell Mooney and free safety Eddie Jackson were already headlining the list.
The Bears (3-13) will host the Vikings (12-4) at Soldier Field for the final game of their 2022 regular season at 1 p.m. ET Sunday, January 8.
Bears Had Four DNPs at Wednesday’s First Practice
The Bears could potentially have a few more names to add to the injured reserve list as the week progresses after four players did not participate in Wednesday’s first practice. One of the non-participants — quarterback Justin Fields — was a given after head coach Matt Eberflus confirmed earlier in the day that Fields had been preemptively ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Vikings, but Jaylon Jones (concussion), Sterling Weatherford (illness) and Jaquan Brisker (personal) were also listed as DNPs.
Considering the Bears have already waved the white flag with Fields, it wouldn’t be too surprising to see him added to the reserve list in the coming days; although, it would likely depend on whether they need to clear another roster space for a call-up player. The same consideration could be given to Jones if he doesn’t clear concussion protocol.
The Bears also limited both long snapper Patrick Scales (neck) and tight end Trevon Wesco (ankle) in Wednesday’s practice, while rookie guard Ja’Tyre Carter (back) and wide receiver Dante Pettis (head) were full participants, per their injury report.
Could Carter Get First Offensive Snaps vs. Vikings?
With Jenkins and Schofield both going on injured reserve, the Bears are going to be down to their third- and fourth-string options at right guard for the regular-season finale against the Vikings. One way to approach the problem would be to continue playing third-year guard Dieter Eiselen, but the smarter long-term play could be trotting out seventh-round rookie Ja’Tyre Carter to see what he can do.
Carter — who is 6-foot-5 and 275 pounds — has only been active for two games during his rookie season and played just three special teams snaps in those contests, essentially giving him zero opportunity to earn his keep as an offensive lineman. The Bears, however, might not get a better chance to test him in a live environment than Sunday when they will be starting third-stringer Nathan Peterman at quarterback. Carter is also locked up for the next three seasons on an ultra-reasonable rookie deal, while Eiselen is due to become a free agent in a few months.
The Bears should also strongly consider getting more reps for former Las Vegas Raiders first-round pick Alex Leatherwood. They have only given him 28 offensive snaps since claiming him off the waivers from the Raiders midway through the season, but he is under contract for two more years with the Bears and is owed more than $4 million in guaranteed money. Really, it would be silly not to play him in the final game.