Injuries to the offensive line could derail the 2023 season even before it starts

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Bears managed to avoid any major injuries, and rather have been healthy throughout training camp. However, with only one more preseason game remaining and 19 days left before the regular season, recent reports suggest the injury bugs have hit the Bears really hard, especially the offensive line. The first bad news came out Sunday night when it was reported that starting left guard Teven Jenkins suffered a leg injury after the Bears' game against the Indianapolis Colts.

This is a huge blow to the team as he will likely miss the entire first month of the season. They face Vita Vea and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in week 2, followed by Chris Jones and the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, both on the road. Jones is mired in a bitter contract dispute the entire off-season and he is willing to sit out the first 8 weeks of the season, so the Bears might dodge a bullet if Jones and the Chiefs have not reached an agreement by then.

After giving up a whopping 58 sacks last year, General Manager Ryan Poles made sure to take care of the much-maligned unit by signing veteran guard Nate Davis from the Tennessee Titans and drafting Darnell Wright from the University of Tennessee in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft.

Now, reports came out today that Darnell Wright left practice early because of an ankle injury.

In addition, starting center Cody Whitehair had missed practices with a right-hand injury, and is now moving back to left guard with Jenkins out. Davis, one of the prized free agent acquisitions, has been in street clothes and has not practiced much, which was known dating back from his days with the Tennessee Titans, and he also took time off for personal reasons. Meanwhile, the Bears are counting on Lucas Patrick, who had missed most of the training camp at the center position.

Offensive line injuries pose a problem for the Chicago Bears

Since none of the starters played against the Colts after a joint practice last week, the starters have to play this Saturday against the Buffalo Bills because there is a two-week gap between the final preseason game and the regular-season opener against the Packers. But head coach Matt Eberflus is faced with the following conundrum as his offensive line is in a state of flux right now:

  • How comfortable is the coaching staff putting Justin Fields behind a makeshift offensive line against Von Miller, Ed Oliver, and the Buffalo first-team defense?
  • Will Matt Eberflus decide to gamble by sitting out Justin Fields and other offensive starters again to protect their health, but the offense could suffer because of a lack of first-team reps against live competition?
  • Why not allow Alex Leatherwood, who is fighting to make the team the rep at left guard, and let Whitehair heal from his injuries if he is your starting center anyway?
  • And finally, are Matt Eberflus' practices the cause of all these injuries all of a sudden because of his HITS principal? How much should the fans be concerned about moving forward?

As teams pair down their active roster from 90 to 53, the Bears should be active in the waiver wire since they pick first in the waiver list. They have already done that with left guard Logan Stenberg, who could see some significant playing time after picking him up from the Detroit Lions, and linebacker Mykal Walker from the Atlanta Falcons. Let's not forget they signed Michael Schofield and Riley Reiff just before the start of last season. Do they sign free agents like Dalton Risner or Justin Pugh, or swing a trade?


If the offensive line remains unstable throughout this season, there is no way Justin Fields will develop as a passer, and the ramifications will be significant since they will likely move on from Fields and draft a new quarterback in 2024. Given what they endured last season, the Bears must do everything to get the right starting lineup combination. Ryan Poles figures to be a very busy man between now and the season opener against the Green Bay Packers.