Bears Short on Healthy Bodies for Short Work Week

Gene Chamberlain

A short work week looked even tougher for the Bears to cope with Monday after the first injury report came out for their Thanksgiving Day game with the Detroit Lions.

Wide receiver Taylor Gabriel and tight end Ben Braunecker both ended up missing Monday's practice and have been entered in the NFL concussion protocol. Considering how little time remains until the game, it doesn't look good for either playing.

The Bears could catch another break involving the Lions quarterback, though.

When the teams played Nov. 10, the Bears faced Jeff Driskel instead of Matthew Stafford due to a back injury. Now it not only looks like they'll miss Stafford again due to the back, but Driskel might also be unavailable. He practiced only on a limited basis Monday due to a hamstring pull suffered Sunday in a loss at Washington.

If Driskel can't play, it would mean former Purdue quarterback David Blough would get his first NFL action.

"I mean, the mission stays the same," Bears defensive lineman Nick Williams said. "Whoever they put at quarterback we've got to go in there and win a football game. So no matter if he's up or down we've just got to go in there and stop the run and get after the quarterback. And that's our job."

Driskel is much more mobile than Stafford and gave the Bears some fits with his legs in the earlier game as he went 27 of 46 for 269 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He also ran for 37 yards. His rushing yardage total increased measurably the next two games, to eight rushes for 51 yards against Dallas and nine for 63 yards against the Redskins. He is 62 of 105 for 685 yards with four TDs and four interceptions and a passer rating of 75.3.

Blough would be a different matter entirely.

"That can be challenging when you have somebody like that that you don’t know much about," coach Matt Nagy said. "The one thing with Jeff Driskel, that was such a short notice on the last time we played them so we got to play a full game against him.

"It's hard to tell just with walkthroughs, day after, what the situation is. But I know our defensive guys will do everything they can to stay prepped on the other quarterback."

The injury for the Bears to Braunecker deprives them of the only remaining tight end with extensive experience in their offense. Adam Shaheen missed practice again Monday with a foot injury and has been out for three weeks.

J.P. Holtz, converted tackle Bradley Sowell and undrafted rookie Jesper Horsted are the only other available tight ends, unless they also activated undrafted rookie Dax Raymond. Horsted caught his first pass Sunday, a 4-yarder.

Although Gabriel is a starter at wide receiver, the Bears could also use Javon Wims more. Anthony Miller has six catches in each of his last two games and is coming on. They also could have Riley Ridley as a game-day active for the first time this season if Gabriel can't play.

Also, the injury to Gabriel is cause for concern because it's his second concussion of the season.

The Bears have one other injury concern that seems likely to hurt them Thursday. Tackle Bobby Massie has his sprained right ankle in a boot cast. It would mean reserve Cornelius Lucas would be the likely starter instead.

The short week is just part of a grind for the Bears that's similar to the one they had last year when they played three games in 12 days. They're doing the same thing this season, the difference being they had to go to Detroit on Thanksgiving last year after playing a Sunday night game.

"I think the most challenging thing is just guys getting through the week healthy so they can show up on Thursday to play the best game that they can play," Miller said. "I think that's about it. The prepation, we're not doing too much with our legs."

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