WHO NOSE WHERE THIS GOES
Goldman’s decision to sit out stings Bears — and could be the first of many problems
Bears nose tackle Eddie Goldman opted out of the 2020 season Tuesday because of health concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic. It’s a major blow to the Bears’ defense, but not a lethal one if it’s the only one.
And therein lies the bigger issue — will Goldman be the only one?
We’ll see about that. The Goldman news broke after Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower became the most high-profile NFL player to opt out — and the ninth player overall at the time. Goldman was part of an early wave. According to NFL.com, 25 players have opted out, including Vikings defensive tackle Michael Pierce, Bills defensive tackle Star Lotulelei and six Patriots players. So stay tuned.
Even if Goldman is the only Bear to decide before training camp that he isn’t playing this season, the story is far from over. Operating without a “bubble” has already proven problematic in baseball, and the NFL doesn’t figure to be immune from a similar impact. The Marlins’ COVID-19 outbreak this week obviously has heightened the concerns of NFL players. The optout rush is on.
Then there’s the injury factor. After an offseason with no onfield work, teams are starting abbreviated training camps with a needed “ramp-up” to actual practices — and they won’t be playing preseason games. That means injuries are more likely if the NFL ever begins playing full-speed regular-season games. NFL rosters are fluid throughout the season in the best of times. In the worst of times, there’s no telling what the landscape will look like once games are being played. That’s if we get there in the first place.
As for Goldman, the Bears will feel his absence, even with depth and versatility being strengths of the defensive line. He just has size, strength, quickness and an instinct for the position that are impossible for another player to replicate.
The Bears waived cornerback Tre Roberson with a non-football injury Tuesday. Sources said he was hurt while training in anticipation of the season.
In January, the Bears signed Roberson, a onetime Illinois State quarterback who later switched positions, after he emerged as a Canadian Football League standout. An undrafted free agent with the Vikings in 2016, he spent two years with the Calgary Stampeders, for whom he posted 10 interceptions and 95 tackles.
He won the Grey Cup, the CFL’s Super Bowl, in 2018.
The Bears later signed Artie Burns and drafted Jaylon Johnson to challenge for the starting job. Johnson, a second-round pick from Utah, is the favorite.
Time to talk
General manager Ryan Pace, coach Matt Nagy and head athletic trainer Andre Tucker will hold a news conference Wednesday via Zoom to discuss the start of training camp and the medical measures taken to try to ensure player safety. Tucker is the Bears’ Infection
Bears veterans, who are taking coronavirus tests and can participate in virtual meetings, will begin training camp with a strength and conditioning rampup. NFL teams are scheduled to begin practices Aug. 17.
Rodgers in blue?
In the first episode of the “10 questions with Kyle Brandt” podcast, which will run Aug. 12 but was teased Tuesday, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers sounded resigned to the fact he might not finish his career with the team. The Packers drafted Utah State quarterback Jordan Love in April.
Brandt, an NFL Network host and Stevenson High School alum, asked Rodgers how he’d look in a Bears uniform. Rodgers laughed.
“Oh, man,” Rodgers said. “That’s a tough thought right there, man.”
Former Bears to coach
Former Bears John Timu and Henry Burris joined the team as Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellows for training camp. Timu, who played for the Bears in 201517, will be a graduate assistant for defense. Burris — who played for the Bears in 2002 and became a first-ballot Canadian Football League Hall of Famer in 2020 — will be an analyst.
Nose tackle Eddie Goldman, a huge piece of the Bears’ run defense, is opting out of the 2020 season because of COVID-19 concerns.