WHO NOSE WHERE THIS GOES

Gold­man’s de­ci­sion to sit out stings Bears — and could be the first of many prob­lems

Chicago Sun-Times - - SPORTS - MARK PO­TASH mpotash@suntimes.com | @MarkPo­tash

Who’s next?

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

Con­trol Of­fi­cer.

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.

ASHLEE REZIN GAR­CIA/SUN-TIMES

Nose tackle Eddie Gold­man, a huge piece of the Bears’ run de­fense, is opt­ing out of the 2020 sea­son be­cause of COVID-19 con­cerns.

Tre Roberson

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