Writer’s Note: yes, this article could very well be one massive, cruel jinx. I advise TLS patrons to repeatedly knock on wood and exercise caution while reading.
I almost didn’t believe it when I saw the reports out of Bourbonnais that zero Bears would end up on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list.
Given the absolute train wreck that has been Chicago’s injury report in the past two or three seasons, I almost expected something to go awry. Maybe Allen Robinson had issues with his ACL rehab. Maybe Kyle Long wasn’t quite recovered from three offseason surgeries. It would have been fitting as well for someone to break a bone jumping out of the back of a truck, Chris Sale style.
I was even somewhat anticipating Ryan Pace to put Pernell McPhee on the PUP list, solely as a matter of tradition, despite the fact that McPhee is on the Redskins right now.
But no, the Bears are fully healthy heading into training camp, save for a nagging Danny Trevathan hamstring, an already injury prone Aaron Lynch, and a Roquan Smith “holdout,” there is nothing to be overly concerned about at camp.
This is huge for a couple of reasons.
First of all, Robinson at full strength is one of the major keys to this season. The Bears are paying him to affect the game like a number one wide receiver and he clearly cannot do that from the sidelines. A torn ACL does not necessarily mean the chance of another one is increased, but the recovery can take an excruciatingly long time and being back for the beginning of training camp is extremely significant so he can develop a connection with quarterback Mitch Trubisky.
Long’s presence is also of massive importance as this is a make or break year for him. If he can’t stay on the field, and on some level, he’s acknowledged this, it would not be out of the question for Pace to cut bait with him. He had three aforementioned surgeries since the 2017 season came to completion and should be (and is) good to go.
Now, three days of practice have come and gone. And as I peek through frightened eyes at Twitter, scanning my timeline for the worst, I have found nothing. No starting centers blowing out their knees. No quarterbacks with otherwise injuries to fingers that prevent them from throwing footballs for 6 weeks (but one with a flair for hilarious sarcastic rhetoric on an otherwise unwatchable reality show). Nothing.
This is something that’s going to have to continue for the Bears to have success in 2018. In each of my eight positional previews, I stressed one thing above all: they have to stay healthy. The Bears have been continually ravaged by injury after devastating injury throughout the past few years perhaps more than any team in football, and that has to stop. Replacing the strength and conditioning staff is an excellent start, as far too often Chicago players fell victim to soft tissue ailments that can be prevented through smart, consistent stretching and lifting.
Some season fatalities, of course, you cannot prevent. Anyone (frantically knocks on wood and suggests you do the same) could go down at any time in a disastrous turn of events that can and will ruin a team’s season. The Bears are by no means out of the woods yet, but this weekend was a good start.
Follow Jack on Twitter: @JS_92_ –Feature Photo Credit: Nam Huh/AP