Alex Bars and Other Young Bears Could Be Tested

Injuries have left several starters unlikely to play Sunday and it could mean playing time for Alex Bars, Riley Ridley and several other younger Bears
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The reserves could have their day after all. At least some of them will.

Bears coach Matt Nagy said earlier in the week he plans to play out the final game against the Minnesota Vikings as if they were looking for a win and still in the race. There would be no wholesale substitution.

However, on Friday the final injury report made it possible the reserves could get more playing time than the Bears' coach initially planned, simply because so many veterans are hurting.

Wide receiver Taylor Gabriel and nose tackle Eddie Goldman will miss the final game due to concussions and defensive end Akiem Hicks has been ruled out due to his injured elbow.

Cornerback Prince Amukamara is questionable with hamstring injury after practicing only on a limited basis Thursday and Friday. Guard Rashaad Coward is doubtful with a knee injury and right tackle Bobby Massie is doubtful with an ankle injury.

Massie actually practiced Friday on a limited basis, the first time he's been on the field since the injury in the Nov. 24 win over the New York Giants.

"He's getting better," Nagy said. "That's probably the best way to put it–an uptick, an improvement. You know?"

Still, doubtful usually means players miss games and it would mean another start for Cornelius Lucas at right tackle.

Rookie guard Alex Bars could actually see some significant playing time due to the injury to Coward.

As with all the young players the Bears look at Sunday, such as wide receiver Riley Ridley or running back Ryan Nall, it won't be easy to evaluate them because they're probably going to be facing Vikings reserves. Minnesota has nothing to play for and will likely rest starters to get ready for next week's playoff game.

"Yeah, you have to take that into the equation," Nagy said. "But it's the 16th game for us, and this is on the schedule, and this is what we need to do.

"I haven't sensed anything different from the guys–they understand that. And whatever other teams do, whether it's starters or backups, whoever's out there is going to be giving 100%, at least on their end. We got to go out there and play our game."

Gabriel hasn't played since Nov. 24 and it's his second concussion of the season. He also had a pair of concussions with past teams, so his situation will be tentative moving on into the offseason.

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