Lucas Patrick returns — but Bears yet to decide if he’ll play center or guard

Five-and-a-half weeks after breaking his right thumb on the second day of training camp,

SHARE Lucas Patrick returns — but Bears yet to decide if he’ll play center or guard
Chicago Bears offensive lineman Lucas Patrick warms up during a three-day voluntary minicamp at Halas Hall in April. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Chicago Bears offensive lineman Lucas Patrick warms up during a three-day voluntary minicamp at Halas Hall in April. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times, Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Five-and-a-half weeks after breaking his right thumb on the second day of training camp, Lucas Patrick returned to practice Monday. How he fares this week will determine whether he’s the Bears’ starting center — or guard — in the opener Sunday.

“We’ve got to look and see where he is, what he can handle, what he can do, and then go from there,” coach Matt Eberflus said.

If Patrick’s hand isn’t healthy enough to snap, he could play right guard instead of Teven Jenkins. That would leave Sam Mustipher at center, the position he played all preseason.

The Bears have been working Patrick at both positions. Eberflus left open the possibility that his return could lead to changes across the line, but said “it’ll be a Wednesday-Thursday assessment” of his health that decides where he plays.

“Just how he’s moving around, his conditioning level, where he’s at,” Eberflus said. “He can certainly function at a bunch of different spots for us. We’re looking at all those.”

Patrick declined to comment.

Mustipher started all 17 games at center last year but seemed destined for a backup role after the Bears gave Patrick a two-year, $8 million contract in March to leave the Packers. The Bears have been pleased with Mustipher’s play in Patricks’ place.

“How about Sam Mustipher?” general manager Ryan Poles said last week. “Stepping in and doing a pretty good job at center as well. That’s another guy who’s gritty and tough.”

Scouting Trey

The Bears aren’t sure what to expect from 49ers quarterback Trey Lance, but they know how they’ll mimic him during practice this week with third-string quarterback Nathan Peterman and position players who share Lance’s speed.

“We’ll take some athletes and get some different guys in there that can do that, for sure,” Eberflus said. “We’ve done that before.”

Lance started only two games as a rookie and appeared in four more, completing 41 of 71 passes for 603 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions. He was officially named the 49ers’ starter in July, after the team made it clear they wanted to trade Rolling Meadows High School and Eastern Illinois alum Jimmy Garoppolo. A shoulder injury complicated the market for Garoppolo, who eventually restructured his contract and stayed in San Francisco as the backup.

“You’re projecting a little bit,” Eberflus said of the Bears’ approach. “You have to project how they’re going to use [Lance] and where they’re going to use him in their offense. We certainly have an idea of what the offense looks like. But how they’re going to use him, no one really knows. You’re going to use your rules and have your calls and make sure you’re sound, what you’re doing.”

This and that

Eberflus will name four permanent captains Wednesday. Each week, the Bears will designate one other player as an “honorary captain,” giving them five total. Under former head coach Matt Nagy, the Bears had different captains each week.

— Every Bears player practiced Monday except for rookie defensive end Dominique Robinson, who suffered a leg injury in the preseason finale against the Browns.

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