The Bears are calling David Montgomery a game-time decision Sunday night against the Los Angeles Rams after their top draft pick and leading rusher was limited in Friday's practice with the ankle injury that he first suffered Wednesday.
After sitting out Thursday, Montgomery managing to get back on the field to conclude the week of preparation is an encouraging sign. Conversely, Chicago ruled out its top two tight ends, Trey Burton (calf) and Adam Shaheen (foot), as well as leading tackler Danny Trevathan and reserve OLB Isaiah Irving.
The continued devolving of the TE position might be more surprising if Bears fans weren't already immune to the issues of one of Chicago's most glaring areas of underachievement. Shaheen went from a healthy scratch for the first time under Matt Nagy in last Sunday's win vs. the Detroit Lions — when the Bears notched their first 2019 touchdown from a tight end, Ben Braunecker — to apparently dealing with an injury to the same foot that sidelined him the first part of the 2018 season.
It's become increasingly clear that Nagy is about done with the Shaheen experiment, but despite Burton never returning to full health from offseason sports hernia surgery prior to suffering his latest ailment, the Bears haven't reached the same point with one of their more reliable pass catchers a year ago.
"It's been frustrating for Trey. You can understand that. And it has been frustrating for us, which you can understand that as well," Nagy said. "They’ll be some decisions that we’ve got to collaborate—we’ve got to get together and just talk it through and see what’s best for him and what’s best for us and then decide on that."
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And though the Bears certainly could decide soon to send one or both of the tight ends to season-ending IR, the one that feels more like a fait accompli is Trevathan, whose left elbow injury sustained early last week was grotesque and appeared to be similar to the one that sent Akiem Hicks to the reserve list.
How did Nagy's Bears practice this week for the first time without Trevathan, who's started the past 26 games in a row?
"Danny is one heck of a leader, especially vocally. He’s that guy that does all the talking. He’s in the middle of the huddle, so guys look to him. He has been out there, and he has been present. So I think just his presence, seeing him on the sideline and understanding that he’s there watching and helping and mentoring can be just as big. ... The one thing when I say strength in numbers is we have a lot of leaders on that defensive side of the ball. I think guys know that, hey, OK, pick it up. Plus, then a guy like [Nick Kwiatkoski] comes in, and he does a lot of speaking with his play."
Trevathan and Kwiatkoski are both free agents this offseason, but it's possible Nagy and Ryan Pace will decide one or both are too valuable to lose. That decision could hinge on how well Kwiatkoski pinch hits — likely for the rest of the season — and especially whether Roquan Smith can rediscover his rookie form after a rocky first half of his sophomore campaign.
"I'm just thinking about it moreso controlling the things that I can control and whatever I can do to give this scheme, defense, to put us in the best possible situation, I'm going to do that regardless of what it is," Smith said.