String of Injuries Continue for Tucker

Bourbonnais - The way things have gone for Rex Tucker of late, if he had any luck at all, it be would bad. He has missed all but five games over the past two seasons and chances are that total will go up after the veteran dislocated his left elbow in Monday's afternoon practice.

"We don't know how bad it is right now," Lovie Smith said. "A lot of times it can look a lot worse than it is."

During an eleven-on-eleven drill Tucker got hit from behind by Thomas Joneson a draw play and then something went terribly wrong.

"Right away I heard him (screaming), he was in a lot of pain," said Mike Gandy, who later replaced Tucker at right guard.

Practiced stopped for approximately five minutes, in which the training staff stabilized Tucker's left elbow and then assisted him into an ambulance to be taken for further examination.

Last year a torn tendon in his right ankle during the final preseason game completely wiped out Tucker's regular season. The previous year, the 6-foot-5, 315-pounder missed the final 11 regular-season games after suffering a dislocated left ankle and fractured left fibula.

While Tucker missed the preseason opener, it had more to do with the fact that the game was on artificial turf and he was coming off ankle surgery. The Bears had been easing the ‘99 third-round draft pick back onto the field usually only letting him practice once on the day's there were two sessions.

However Monday participated in the morning practice and about an hour into the afternoon session went down with what appears his third serious injury in as many years.

"It was a typical running play," Smith said. "It's not like someone fell on him, he was on a pile or anything like that."

Earlier in training camp the 27-year-old was happy just to be back on the practice field and wouldn't entertain thoughts of re-injury.

"You don't have time to do that," Tucker said. "The game is so fast. If you hesitate or are tentative and try to think, 'What if this, what if that,' only worse things are going to happen to you. "So you try to put that in the back of your head and just continue playing the game.

If Tucker learned one thing from his previous experience with injury it was to try to hear what his body told him, something he neglected to do last season, which turned out to be a mistake.

"Last year I was coming off an injury, and I pushed every practice," he said. "I didn't want to miss one practice, and I pushed and pushed and pushed, and I paid the price for it. This year I'm going to listen to my body a little more, and when it gets really sore, I'm going to pay attention to that. I don't want to miss a season again. I'm not going to do that to myself. That's suicide."

At this point there is no telling how serious the dislocation is, but the one positive is the fact that it has nothing to do with any previous injury.

In the meantime, Gandy will work at right guard and Ruben Brown will stay on the left side. Things could change when Terrence Metcalf returns from a sprained left ankle, which will most likely be next week.

If Tucker is lost for a long period of time any of the guards could slide over to fill the void. The most logical choice would seem to be moving Brown over to right guard, a position where he's been voted to the Pro Bowl eight times. Leaving Metcalf and Gandy to compete for the job on the left side.

"A lot of it has to do with what happens with Rex's injury because you could start moving people around and then he'll be back and then they've lost their work at that side," offensive line coach Pete Hoener said.

Metcalf has impressed coaches in training camp, but being sidelined with a sprained ankle won't help his case. On the other hand Gandy had three holding penalties against the Rams.

"I've got a good feeling now who's going to play," Hoener said. "Now the sooner we can get the full group together I think you're always better off."


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