Much depends for the Bears on the pass blocking of Teven Jenkins because he has the blind side of veteran quarterback Andy Dalton.
For now, the Bears don't have Jenkins practicing. In fact, they don't have starting right tackle Germain Ifedi on the field, either.
Both offensive linemen joined safety Eddie Jackson in missing the first day of practice due to injuries. Later, after practice, Ifedi was put on the physically unable to perform list and Jackson on the non-football injury list. This allows them to rehab while the team can use their roster spot to look at others.
Jackson has a hamstring injury while Jenkins is suffering from a back injury and Ifedi a hip-flexor injury.
Coach Matt Nagy chose to paint a positive picture of the injuries, saying Jenkins has "back tightness" and say Ifedi "tweaked the injury."
Ifedi's injury occurred during the conditioning test the players took in the morning. Jenkins has been working in rookie practices over the week before the regular start of training camp. His injury came then.
"We feel pretty good about it as far as sometimes you get those in these conditioning tests," Nagy said.
The injury to Jackson is the kind of thing that can fester if left unchecked so early in camp it's better to leave him on the side.
"It's something that we're not overly concerned," Nagy said of Jackson. "He injured it while he was working out recently."
The Jenkins injury was somewhat scary for longtime Bears followers who remember how they drafted tackle Chris Williams in Round 1 at tackle in 2008 and got a practice out of him before he went out for the season with a back injury that required surgery.
Jenkins was replaced by Elijah Wilkinson at left tackle. Wilkinson had worked some at left tackle in the offseason but has never started an NFL game there.
Deon Bush worked with the first team on defense in place of Jackson.
The surprise among the subs for the right tackle spot was second-year player Lachavious Simmons played with starters over rookie fifth-round pick Larry Borom.
Simmons was buried on the roster last year and almost got into the game with Tennessee because COVID-19 took a toll then on the offensive line, but then went on the COVID reserve list himself and never saw action last season.
A few other Bears began camp with their injury status uncertain, but both managed to practice as the Bears went through a brief, but intense workout in the heat without fans at Halas Hall in the afternoon before Thursday's first practice in front of fans.
Robert Quinn, Bilal Nichols Gut Out Injuries
Edge rusher Robert Quinn is suffering from a back injury that bothered him in minicamp and defensive end Bilal Nichols a toe injury which sidelined him in minicamp, but both participated. Nagy called it limited practices, but both seemed to get through with no problem.
Quinn's status is always a concern as he missed most of last year's camp with an injury, then the regular-season opener and went through a poor season with two sacks."
"Right now, with his health, and the back that he has, we feel good that he is going to get through this training camp and be pretty healthy and strong," Nagy said. "We have to day-by-day just keep getting him stronger and stronger and where he needs to be."
Quinn called it a case of a veteran being looked after closely.
"I'm fine, I guess I was just saying I guess I'm one of the older guys around so I think they're just trying to manage the load, load management," he said. "So, it's still early in the year and I guess they added an extra game so it's going to be a long season. I don't need to try and burn out and kill yourself today because we've got plenty more days to come."
For Quinn, the season is a chance to make up for the two-sack season he had in 2020 when he signed for $33 million. He said he's not feeling pressure to rebound.
"Pressure burst pipes but makes diamonds," he joked.
Bears coaches have tried to stand up for Quinn since last year, saying they simply need to get him in a better position to make plays.
"I mean, it's no pressure," Quinn said. "This is my 11th year. What pressure? I mean, what pressure? I guess the only pressure I put on myself is my self-standard.
"From outside people, I could really care less what you all think because I've got my own expectations for myself and that's all that really matters to me."
Jake Butt Retires
Later Wednesday evening a Bears mystery became evident, and that was why they felt compelled to sign tight end Jesse James after signing tight end Jake Butt.
Butt retired from the game, so the Bears needed the extra tight end.
Butt had gone through four knee surgeries and was trying to make a comeback with the Bears after he'd been cut by Denver. It didn't work out.
Twitter: BearDigest @BearsOnMaven