(670 The Score) The Bears are so decimated on their offensive line that they can't even create a clear contingency plan.
Veteran left tackle Charles Leno Jr. was the Bears' lone offensive line starter who practiced Wednesday, and they could be down to third-string options at multiple positions after being hit with injuries and a positive COVID-19 test. The Bears on Tuesday placed starting right tackle Bobby Massie on injured reserve due to a knee injury. His replacement was Jason Spriggs, who then promptly tested positive for COVID-19 and is out indefinitely.
After Spriggs tested positive for the virus, the Bears were forced to place starting right guard Germain Ifedi on the COVID-19 reserve list because he was deemed a close contact to Spriggs. The Bears are also without starting center Cody Whitehair, who's recovering from a calf injury and missed their game Sunday. Backup center Sam Mustipher suffered a knee injury and also isn't practicing.
For nearly a month, the Bears have been working without starting left guard James Daniels, who suffered a season-ending pectoral tear in early October.
So what will the Bears' offensive line look like against the Titans on Sunday? Coach Matt Nagy isn't quite sure.
"There’s different scenarios that can happen," Nagy said. "We’re working through all that right now."
The Bears have just two days of practice and a walk-through before traveling to Tennessee. A likely scenario is that Alex Bars will make his first start at left guard, with Rashaad Coward sliding over to right tackle to replace Spriggs. Even so, the Bears will still have voids to fill at center and right guard.
The Bears are hopeful that Ifedi can be activated from the COVID-19 reserve list Saturday, the final day he could be returned to the active roster and still eligible to play Sunday. For that to happen, Ifedi needs to continually test negative for COVID-19. That would allow the Bears to return a second starter to the offensive line. Rookie Arlington Hambright, a seventh-round pick in April, is the backup to Ifedi.
Meanwhile, it's unclear who will be snapping the football to quarterback Nick Foles. The second-year reserve Mustipher played well in place of Whitehair on Sunday but was later found to have suffered a knee injury despite not missing an offensive play.
Whitehair hasn't practiced since suffering his calf injury during the Bears' loss to the Rams on Oct. 26. His status remains in doubt ahead of Sunday.
The Bears' backup option at center after Mustipher would be Dieter Eiselen, an undrafted rookie out of Yale who is currently on the team's practice squad. Aaron Neary, a 27-year-old center signed to the practice squad Tuesday, is another contingency plan for the Bears. Neary has played in one career NFL game, that coming with the Rams in 2017.
For a Bears offense that ranks 28th in scoring and 29th in yardage, figuring out the offensive line is the latest challenge.
"Guys have an opportunity to go and step up and play," Foles said. "You hate to see injuries, but a lot of times, these are where guys get an opportunity and they start and they do well and then they play the rest of your career. That’s how you play a lot of times. It stinks that’s how it is.
"I was really proud of the guys with how we stepped up with everything that was going on."
Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.