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Bears notebook: Rookie Khyiris Tonga turning heads

With nose tackle Eddie Goldman practicing Thursday and possibly playing Sunday against the Lions, Tonga still could figure in the rotation. “He’s getting better every week,” defensive coordinator Sean Desai said.

Bears rookie nose tackle Khyiris Tonga had five tackles against the Browns last week. Tonga is playing in place of injured starter Eddie Goldman.
Bears rookie nose tackle Khyiris Tonga had five tackles against the Browns last week. Tonga is playing in place of injured starter Eddie Goldman.
Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Nose tackle Eddie Goldman, who has missed the Bears’ first three games because of a nagging knee injury, was a full participant at practice Thursday, the first step toward playing Sunday against the Lions at Soldier Field. It would be Goldman’s first regular-season game since Week 17 of the 2019 season.

After missing that much time and a being out the last three weeks because of the knee injury, Goldman likely would play limited snaps. But regardless of how much Goldman plays, the Bears are comfortable with the progress of rookie Khyiris Tonga, who has made an impact in Goldman’s place.

‘‘A big, thick presence down the middle of the defense, and he’s getting better each week,’’ defensive coordinator Sean Desai said. ‘‘That’s the good thing because, as a rookie, you just never know how quickly guys will develop. He’s taken it on and embraced all the coaching that we’re giving him. Coach [Chris] Rumph is doing a good job with him, and I think he’s going to continue to get better.’’

The 25-year-old Tonga, a seventh-round draft pick from Brigham Young, had five tackles against the Browns. He lost a quarterback hit when he was called for roughing the passer while taking Baker Mayfield down.

‘‘We try to teach guys that they’ve got to fall on the side; that’s the way the league is,’’ Desai said. ‘‘Falling straight on the quarterback while you’re sacking him, you’re gonna get called.’’

Mack out

Linebacker Khalil Mack (sprained foot) missed his second consecutive practice. Safety Tashaun Gipson (hamstring), backup linebacker Joel Iyiegbuniwe (hamstring) backup tight end Jesse James (personal) and backup cornerback Xavier Crawford (back) also were out.

Trevathan vs. Ogletree

Desai seemed to indicate that linebacker Danny Trevathan might not return to the starting line up whenever he comes off injured reserve. Trevathan, who went on IR with a knee injury at the beginning of the season, is in a three-week window during which he can return to the active roster.

Asked whether Alec Ogletree, who has filled in, will have a role when Trevathan returns, Desai said: ‘‘I’m not sure if that question has the assumption that one guy’s starting over the other. We’re going to evaluate all our positions, like we do every week. So that will be a decision, when we’re ready to make it, we’ll make it as a staff.’’

Backyard football

Tight end Cole Kmet, who played at St. Viator in Arlington Heights, predictably was enthused about the possibility of the Bears building a stadium on the Arlington Park site.

‘‘It’s pretty crazy,’’ Kmet said. “I don’t know how you [reporters] felt after going to SoFi [Stadium for the Rams game], but that place is pretty sweet,’’ he said. ‘‘If you have that much land out in Arlington Heights, I can only imagine what they can do with that space. Could be pretty special.’’