Healthy at the right time, Chicago Bears practice with all scheduled starters on offense

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LAKE FOREST, Ill. — The Chicago Bears’ offense saw the return of center Lucas Patrick and receivers Byron Pringle and Velus Jones Jr. in Monday’s practice. For the first time since late July, Chicago’s entire group of projected offensive debutants trained together.

Patrick hasn’t practiced since he broke his right thumb on July 28 and underwent surgery. Pringle suffered a quad injury in early August and missed all of preseason while Jones missed a lot of time with undisclosed injuries throughout training camp. In his only preseason action against Seattle, the third-round rookie showed his speed on a 48-yard punt return and caught a pass for 4 yards.

“A lot of guys are back and looking really good and healthy and moving and we’re evaluating that as we go,” coach Matt Eberflus said. “Everything looks really good.”

The Bears will release their first injury report of the season on Wednesday. Chicago hosts the San Francisco 49ers in their home opener on Sunday.

Wide receiver injuries have been a constant for Chicago throughout the preseason. Last week, Eberflus announced that veteran Tajae Sharpe was out for the year with a rib injury, while N’Keal Harry (ankle) was placed on the injured list after the establishment of the initial roster of 53 players. Harry is eligible to return after missing the Bears’ first four games.

Chicago claimed second-year receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette off waivers last week. He spent the 2021 season with Minnesota.

Pringle confirmed that he initially suffered his quad injury during an individual exercise at training camp and tried to stay on the field during practice the next day.

“Actually, I ruined everything during this individual period [on Aug. 2], but I stayed,” Pringle said. “I tried to train all the way. It’s just this undrafted free agent mentality that I have, I can’t go out when you’re injured, so I trained three days after the injury. And then I just had an MRI and after the results, I was injured.

“I’m a tough guy so I know they didn’t want a setback. Me neither because I wanted to come out in pre-season and show what I could do on the pitch. It was just one things I need to communicate with the team.”

Pringle said he felt ‘good’ in his first practice and rode a stationary bike in the practice room and boxed away from team facilities to get him helped to stay in shape during his rehabilitation.

The 28-year-old wide receiver, who signed a one-year, $4.125 million contract with Chicago as a free agent, said he will assess his availability for the opener later in the week.

“They limited me right now,” Pringle said. “I’m just trying to feel everything, trying to get back on my feet.”

As for Patrick, Eberflus said the Bears are considering the veteran offensive lineman to play center or guard. During the practice game open to the media on Monday, Patrick – who was the team’s starting center before his injury – did not break the ball during individual drills with the offensive line.

While Patrick was sidelined, Sam Mustipher handled center duties with the first-team offensive line while Teven Jenkins moved from backup tackle to right guard midway through training camp.

Last week, Eberflus said the team hoped Patrick would return for Week 1, and that the Bears would “never rule out” playing him in multiple positions inside the O line given his experience. center and guard.

“Just how he moves, his level of conditioning, where he is,” Eberflus said. “It can definitely work in a bunch of different places for us. We’re looking at all of those.”

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