With just over one week until the regular season opener, the Chicago Bears have been afflicted by a rash of injuries to nearly every position group.
Wednesday’s practice featured three of the intended starting offensive linemen, both starting EDGE rushers, both starting safeties and another playmaker in Chase Claypool — who figures to see starter’s reps this season – all as spectators.
It’s forced some players to step into larger roles. But, for wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown, it is a return to the prominent role he played last season. He has found himself further down the depth chart this season. But despite the thrust back into a spot with the 1s, he isn’t going about things any differently.
“I mean I always keep the same mindset,” St. Brown said on August 23.
“Come in every year, train hard, and all season, come in ball out, do the best I can. And then, help the team win.”
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) December 4, 2022
St. Brown was signed last offseason, in part to help with the implementation of offensive coordinator Luke Getsy’s scheme. He finished last season with 21 receptions for 323 yards, ranking third on the team behind Darnell Mooney and Cole Kmet last season.
The Bears gave St. Brown a one-year contract extension this offseason. But they also added Claypool at the trade deadline last year and acquired DJ Moore in a trade with the Carolina Panthers this offseason. Both players have/figure to push St. Brown down to fourth in the Bears’ wide receiver pecking order.
Cole Kmet Exits Practice With Undisclosed Injury
Kmet began practice as a full participant. But he went down during the session, leaving the field and not returning.
The Bears are vague about injuries so we might learn what Kmet injured, though even that is not a guarantee. They are well aware of the league rules about disclosing injuries right now. Head coach Matt Eberflus noted they have until September to continue divulging information as they have.
Kmet is coming off a big year.
He recorded 544 yards and seven touchdowns on 50 receptions last season and signed a four-year, $50 million contract extension this offseason. Kmet was set to be one of six returning offensive starters (non-linemen) from last season after the Bears’ roster overhaul this summer.
Bears’ Injuries Could Impact Plans for Week 3 of the Preseason
Eberflus did note that he would have to take all of the injuries, particularly those to the offensive line, under consideration for the Bears’ preseason Week 3 matchup against the Buffalo Bills. It could mean Justin Fields sits.
They are already set to be without starting right guard Teven Jenkins for up to six weeks. And rookie right tackle was among those left watching Wednesday’s session.
List includes (but is not limited to) Darnell Wright, Nate Davis, Teven Jenkins, Chase Claypool, DeMarcus Walker, Rasheem Green, Yannick Ngakoue, Eddie Jackson, Jaquan Brisker.
Cole Kmet was also carted off the field during practice and did not return. #Bears
— Josh Buckhalter (@JoshGBuck) August 23, 2023
If that is what happens, Fields will exit the preseason with seven total snaps through three weeks. And the Bears have a matchup against the Packers on deck for the season opener. Their defense won’t have played together all preseason and they will have anywhere from one to three new offensive linemen in the starting lineup.
It is a precarious situation but St. Brown noted that everyone is ready to step up.