Bears notebook: Eddie Goldman doubtful for Rams game
The veteran nose tackle, who opted out of the 2020 season, did not practice this week because of knee and ankle injuries. Defensive end Bilal Nichols and rookie Khyiris Tonga are likely to fill in.
After playing without nose tackle Eddie Goldman for the entire 2020 season, the Bears apparently will have to wait another week for his return.
Goldman, a Pro Bowl alternate in 2019 who opted out of last season because of concerns about the coronavirus, is doubtful for Sunday’s season opener against the Rams after not practicing this week because of knee and ankle injuries.
If Goldman doesn’t play, defensive end Bilal Nichols and rookie nose tackle Khyiris Tonga likely would fill in.
Nichols, a starter at end in his first two seasons with the Bears, did an admirable job covering for Goldman at nose tackle last season. The 25-year-old Tonga, a seventh-round pick from BYU, has been lauded in training camp and the preseason. His playing time Sunday could be a strong
indication of just how good the coaching staff feels about him.
“He’s been pretty impres-sive,” coach Matt Nagy said. “If [Goldman doesn’t play], Tonga would have a bigger role, so that’ll be a good opportunity for him.”
Nichols also endorsed Tonga as ready to contribute.
“Definitely,” said Nichols, a three-year veteran who will turn 25 on Tuesday. “One thing I noticed about Tonga early is that he doesn’t act like a rookie — very mature guy. You would think he’s been in the league for a couple of years, the way he’s carried himself.
“Another thing I noticed is that he works hard. He wants to be great. He comes in every day with the intent to get better and better, always asking questions. Player to player, you respect that. Those are the types of guys you love to go to war with because you know he’s going to give it everything he’s got.”
Outside linebackers Khalil Mack (groin) and Robert Quinn (back), safeties Eddie Jackson (wrist) and Tashaun Gipson (back) and wide receiver Darnell Mooney (back) were listed as questionable but are expected to play against the Rams. All but Gipson participated fully in Friday’s practice.
Safety Deon Bush (shoulder), long snapper Patrick Scales (ankle) and linebacker Joel Iyiegbuniwe (shoulder) also are questionable.
Sunday night’s opener at SoFi Stadium on NBC will mark the third time in Nagy’s four seasons that the Bears have opened in prime time. They lost to the Packers 24-23 at Lambeau Field in 2018. They lost to the Packers 10-3 at Soldier Field in 2019.
Overall, the Bears are 6-7 in prime time under Nagy. They were 1-4 last season, beating the eventual Super Bowl champion Buccaneers 20-19 at Soldier Field in Week 5.
Quarterback Andy Dalton is 6-17 (.261) in prime time with a 78.7 passer rating (29 touchdowns, 19 interceptions).
Oh, captain, my captain
The Bears’ captains for Week 1 are running back David Montgomery (offense), linebacker Roquan Smith (defense) and safety DeAndre Houston-Carson (special teams). Nagy said he plans to pick weekly captains again this season.
Montgomery, in his third season, in particular has grown into the leadership role.
“He’s somebody that exemplifies from start to finish everything about how the day goes,” Nagy said. “He’s worked extremely hard to get to the point. He’s being a leader on the field. I see it. I feel it. The guys see it. They guys feel it.”