The Chicago Bears were injury free through the first three days of practice. Since then, the team has resembled a M*A*S*H unit. It started with Pro Bowl left tackle Jermon Bushrod on Monday and has snowballed since then.
And last night, during a short practice in front of the Soldier Field crowd, four more players were added to the list. Here's a full recap:
-DE Turk McBride is lost for the season with a ruptured Achilles tendon.
-T Jermon Bushrod (calf)
-T Jonathan Scott (knee)
-DT Jamaal Anderson (knee)
-LB D.J. Williams (calf)
-DE Corey Wootton (hip)
-CB Kelvin Hayden (hamstring)
-DE Cornelius Washington (elbow)
-WR Earl Bennett (concussson)
-Wootton missed practice on Thursday and Friday. He suited up last night but only took part in warmups. The MRI on his hip showed no serious damage, so we should see him on the practice field this week. Wootton has looked very good in camp, so for as long as he's healthy, his job is safe.
-With McBride done and Wootton hobbled, rookie Cornelius Washington has been seeing a lot of reps with the second team. He's been inconsistent so far but has flashed a good combination of quickness and strength off the edge. Washington is battling for the club's fourth, or possibly fifth, DE spot. He's officially listed as day to day, so the strained elbow isn't too serious, but he's going to need to get back out on the field or Kyle Moore is going to create even more separation from him for that final edge rusher position.
-Bushrod is out of his walking boot and should be back at some point in the preseason. His injury opened the door for Jonathan Scott, who himself went down the following practice. Scott is fighting for the club's swing tackle position and the recent time missed isn't doing him any good.
With Scott and Bushrod out, Eben Britton has been working at left tackle with the starters. The results haven't been that great but at least offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer knows what he has in the fifth-year veteran. Britton still has time turn things around. If Scott stays on the shelf, and Britton flips the switch, he'll put himself in great position heading into the preseason.
-The biggest beneficiary of the offensive tackle injuries has been fifth-round rookie Jordan Mills. Working with the third team at right tackle all offseason, Mills has taken second team reps for most of this week. He hasn't looked great but you see improvement out of him every day. That's what the coaching staff is looking for out of a first-year player, as it shows he's coachable.
-D.J. Williams' calf injury has him listed as week to week. His absence has thrust rookie Jonathan Bostic into the starting middle linebacker role. As you might imagine, he has been very inconsistent, particularly in coverage. Yet every rep he gets with the first team will make him that much better and help this talented player quickly assimilate to the pro game. If Williams is on the sidelines for a prolonged period of time, that may be enough for Bostic to cement his status as the club's starting MIKE.
-Earl Bennett left yesterday's practice with concussion-like symptoms. There has been no official word on his status. He missed two games last year with a concussion and has taken two big shots to the head in this year's camp. If he misses time, that opens the door even further for Joe Anderson, who has taken over as the club's No. 4 wideout. If Bennett is out, Anderson will get first-team reps only. So far, he's made the most of those snaps, making far more plays than Bennett in Bourbonnais. If Anderson continues to showcase playmaking ability, he'll solidify himself as an integral part of the offense this season, one who could eventually steal snaps from Bennett.
-Isaiah Frey was already pushing Kelvin Hayden hard for the starting nickelback gig. This injury is going open the door wide open for Frey. Hayden is considered week to week with a hamstring strain, which means Frey will be inserted with the first team for the foreseeable future. In camp, only Charles Tillman has looked better in the secondary than Frey, who breaks up at least one pass in every practice. He has shown outstanding quickness and awareness, while his makeup speed is arguably the best on the team. I already felt Frey had a chance at beating out a fully healthy Hayden in the preseason. This injury makes it that much more likely.
-Overall, this is a good time for injuries to hit the Bears. There is still enough time for most of these maladies to heal up before the start of the regular season and it also gives the coaching staff an opportunity to truly evaluate the backups in starting roles. If no more serious
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his third season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Bear Report Web site or magazine, click here.