Bears Defensive Starter’s Status in Doubt Heading Into Season Opener

Bears Eddie Goldman injury Week 1

Getty Eddie Goldman's status for Week 1 against the Rams is in doubt.

The Chicago Bears may have to kick their 2021 campaign off without one of their best defenders.

Starting nose tackle Eddie Goldman missed the Bears’ September 8 practice with what the team referred to as a “knee/ankle” injury, leaving his status against the Los Angeles Rams Sunday night in serious doubt.

The Bears also added nose tackle Damion Square and defensive tackle Margus Hunt to the practice squad on September 8, which could signal a potential roster move heading into the team’s Week 1 prime time contest against the Rams.

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Goldman Was Anxious to Return to Action This Season

Goldman is returning to action this season after he opted out last year due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic. This will be the 27-year-old nose tackle’s sixth NFL season, and he revealed during training camp how much he missed the game when he was away from it last year.

“It was kind of painful you know? Because when you’re used to the routine, it’s like you know what times they’re hitting the field at this time; they’re warming up; alright around this time, they’re having the locker room speech. You know what I mean? All of that and just being away from it just kind of killed me,” Goldman said on July 28 about being away from the game last year.

He also said he felt strongly about the direction of the defense under new coordinator Sean Desai. “Sky’s the limit. Sky’s the limit,” Goldman said. “I don’t want to speak too early but we definitely have a lot and we definitely have a high ceiling.”

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Rookie NT Khyiris Tonga Could Make 1st NFL Start

If Goldman is a no-go Sunday night, look for rookie nose tackle Khyiris Tonga to make his first NFL start. Tonga impressed throughout OTAs and at training camp, and he showed flashes throughout the preseason, but his inexperience could leave the Bears scrambling a bit. Defensive lineman Bilal Nichols, who filled in for Goldman some last season, could also step in.

“I’m really happy and pleased with where he is right now and his growth.” Bears defensive line coach Chris Rumph said about Tonga in August, via the team’s official website.

“In OTAs, it’s more mental. You’re really working on footwork, hands and eyes and things like that. To go against these veteran guys here in camp with pads on—you can’t go out there and say, ‘Hey, take it easy on me, I’m a seventh-round pick.’ But to see him play the physical part is impressive for a young guy,” Rumph added.

In his four seasons at BYU, Tonga tallied 130 tackles (16 for loss), 8.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and 12 passes defensed. The Bears nabbed him in the seventh round this year, a move many dubbed a steal. Now, he may get his first opportunity to show what he can do at the pro level.

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