Cody Whitehair on reserve/COVID-19 list, but Germain Ifedi cleared to play vs. Titans
The Bears still will have a makeshift offensive line against the Titans, with three backups starting.
Bears center Cody Whitehair was put on the COVID-19 reserve list Friday after his positive test was confirmed. But the Bears breathed a sigh of relief that Whitehair’s case did not lead to a coronavirus breakout at Halas Hall.
After canceling practice Thursday because of coronavirus concerns in the aftermath of Whitehair’s initial positive test that followed right tackle Jason Springs testing positive Tuesday, the Bears were cleared by the NFL to practice Friday. Right guard Germain Ifedi, who was on the COVID-19 list as a high-risk close contact, was activated and is expected to start against the Titans on Sunday in Nashville, Tennessee.
“It was great news . . . the best-case scenario,” coach Matt Nagy said about practicing Friday. “It obviously puts you in a much better mood than what some of the other circumstances could have been.”
Safety Tashaun Gipson credited Whitehair with helping to avoid an outbreak by diligently wearing his mask before being diagnosed with the coronavirus. Nagy has been a particular stickler about that — to an annoying degree by his own admission.
“That’s just a testament [to] how Cody was. He made sure he protected himself . . . even though I don’t think he knew he had it,” Gipson said. “But he’s a pro’s pro, so when they say, ‘Wear your mask’ and do the things that’s necessary to keep the team safe, he’s a guy who’ll do it — and that’s why it wasn’t a complete outbreak because guys like him we’re able to do the things necessary.”
The Bears still will have a makeshift offensive line against the Titans, with three backups starting — likely seventh-round rookie Arlington Hambright at left guard, second-year undrafted free agent Alex Bars at center and former defensive tackle Rashaad Coward at right tackle for Bobby Massie, who is on injured reserve with a knee injury he suffered against the Saints.
The most acute situation is at center. Second-year undrafted free agent Sam Mustipher, who played for the injured Whitehair (calf) last week against the Saints, is out with a knee injury. The Bears do not have a player on their roster who has played center in college or the NFL. Bars, a guard and tackle at Notre Dame, figures to replace Mustipher.
The Bears were able to practice Friday, but as Nagy noted, “Game day is a little different, so we have to make sure we keep a pulse as to where we’re at.
“I want to try to look at the positives in all of this. None of us can promise anything, but man, it would be really cool to see some of these younger guys step up. Are they going to get beat at times? Yeah. But how do they respond to that? And how do they respond to the coaching. This is what it’s all about.”
The Bears had a season-high 13 players on the injury list this week, with four players out for Sunday: defensive tackle John Jenkins (ankle), defensive end Roy Robertson-Harris (shoulder), Mustipher and quarterback Mitch Trubisky (shoulder).