At least two Bears training camp battles could be over before they really went very far.
For the early part of camp, Deon Bush and Tashaun Gipson had been competing really at what seemed a totally even level in Bears training camp. Defensive coaches closely monitored the snap counts for both with the first team.
Gipson now has a back issue and this threatens to end what had looked like an even battle.
The Bears haven't gone into detail what Gipson's back injury is, but he hasn't practiced since Tuesday.
"He just has a lower back, nothing major," Bears coach Matt Nagy said after Wednesday's missed practice.
There's no such thing as a minor back injury, and this is especially the case when a back injury ended a player's 2019 season like it did with Gipson.
The Bears aren't saying this is related, but it's concerning.
Gipson had a transverse process fracture in his lower back with the Texans last year and aggravated it. He was dealing with it since mid-season and it caused him to miss two games at the time. When he aggravated it later, the Texans put him on injured reserve for the playoffs.
Bush hasn't missed practices and is healthy. He's a fifth-year veteran, although he has only started eight games and only two since his rookie year of 2016.
"I think he's comfortable in the system and he's getting more comfortable taking command out there when he's got to make some checks and adjustments," Bears safeties coach Sean Desai said. "Obviously you see his athleticism and ability to get to the ball is still showing up."
Desai likes the fact Bush is very familiar with safety Eddie Jackson when they're on the field together.
"I think it's variable," Desai said. "Because the familiarity in the meeting room is way different than familiarity on the field."
It's all about knowing what they're seeing from the offense and getting it across to each other.
"Whoever it is, they all have to be able to communicate with each other and be able to get a feel for each other," Desai said.
Gipson could very well return for the final four days of practice this week and considering his experience advantage it would seem possible he'd still have time to maintain his status in coaches' eyes, whatever level that might be.
In the meantime, though, Bush has continued to gain momentum and it's tough to stop it while restarting your own after inactivity.
The other battle seemingly over before it even started is at right guard on offense. Germain Ifedi has looked the part of starting right guard and has stayed there.
"The thing is that Germain has started for four years and things," Castillo said.
Castillo had promised that Rashaad Coward would also get his chance in with the first team to test himself against Akiem Hicks. This hasn't happened for two reasons: 1) Hicks got hurt and hasn't practiced since early in camp and 2) Ifedi seemed to take possession of the spot and isn't vacating.
The knee sprain suffered by swing tackle Jason Spriggs had the Bears switching Coward back to tackle, anyway. He has lined up there with the second team at right tackle, while another guard, Alex Bars, has been lining up with the second team at left tackle.
So this would appear to be decided, as well.
Four days of practice next week wouldn't appear to be enough to overturn what's happened so far at right guard.
The chance exists it could mean the difference for Gipson, provided he's healthy enough to return to the lineup.