The bye week came at the perfect time for the Chicago Bears, who should see the return of five starters this week.
G Kyle Long, G Josh Sitton, NT Eddie Goldman, WR Eddie Royal and CB Bryce Callahan all returned to practice today.
"I think it’s a huge boost," head coach John Fox said after practice. "As I mentioned before, if you look at what’s happened to us in the first half, just at the quarterback position, it’s enough to cripple a lot of teams. Obviously getting two Pro Bowl guards back is helpful. I think the receiver position gets a little deeper, as well as the punt returning. In the secondary, I think Bryce Callahan’s been kinda hit or miss through the first half, or part of the first half. That makes us healthier in a lot of spots."
Chicago's offensive line didn't skip a beat last week with both Sitton and Long on the shelf, rolling up 403 total yards against Minnesota's top-ranked defense. That said, getting veterans Long and Sitton, who have six Pro Bowl appearances between them, will further stabilize a front five that has been outstanding this year.
With Royal on the shelf, the Bears lacked a legitimate receiving threat out of the slot. Yet he was missed even more on special teams, where he's been a consistent threat as the club's starting punt returner.
Callahan has been very good in coverage, both in the slot and at the boundary corner position, which will help an ailing secondary.
The biggest boost might be Goldman, who suffered a high ankle sprain in Week 2, who should be able to further improve the run defense.
“That 2015 draft, quite a few guys aren’t out there that were in that draft, Eddie being one of them," Fox said. "Obviously he’s a young player that’s getting better with every outing and it’ll be good to have him back if that’s the case come Wednesday.”