Left tackle Charles Leno knocked on wood Thursday when asked about his durability, and you can’t blame him, considering all the injuries the Bears have had.
But Leno’s streak of 2,834 consecutive snaps and 44 consecutive starts since replacing Jermon Bushrod in Week 4 of the 2015 season is looking more and more impressive as the Bears struggle to keep offensive linemen healthy. Right tackle Bobby Massie had a seasonlong streak of 883 snaps snapped when he suffered a knee injury on Jordan Howard’s two-yard touchdown run in the first quarter against the Browns.
Leno said he takes pride in being available for his team but isn’t counting his snaps as the streak endures.
“It’s a good accomplishment. But honestly, it really doesn’t matter to me. I just want to be on the field to help us win,” said Leno, a seventh-round draft pick from Boise State in 2014. “I try to take care of my body as best as I possibly can, on and off the field. It’s just paying off right now. A little bit of luck, but a lot of it is taking care of my body.”
Leno signed a four-year, $38 million contract extension with $21.5 million guaranteed during the preseason. He has had a solid season with improved run blocking to complement his steadiness in pass protection. The investment could pay off yet.
“I just want to get better every year. I think I’ve been doing that,” Leno said. “I don’t want to be in the same spot I was last year. I look at myself in the mirror and I’m like, ‘I wasn’t where I was last year at this time.’ And next year I want to be better than I am this year.”
Massie and guard Josh Sitton (ankle) did not practice for the second consecutive day Thursday. But guard/tackle Brad Sowell (back) had full participation after being limited Wednesday.
Special teams standout DeAndre Houston-Carson (back) and tight end Adam Shaheen (chest) were limited in practice Thursday.
Strength of schedule
The Vikings (12-3), the second seed in the NFC, will be the eighth opponent the Bears have played this season that currently is in the playoffs. The others are the Eagles (13-2, No. 1 in the NFC), Steelers (12-3, No. 2 in the AFC), Saints (11-4, No. 4 in the NFC), Panthers (11-4, No. 5 in the NFC), Ravens (9-6, No. 5 in the AFC) and Falcons (9-6, No. 6 in the AFC).
The Bears (5-10) are ninth in the 2018 draft order and could jump to as high as sixth with a loss to the Vikings — if the Broncos (5-10), Jets (5-10) and 49ers (5-10) win on Sunday.
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