The Bears will spend the next few days assessing whether nickel back Kyler Gordon can return to action Sunday when they host the Vikings at Soldier Field.
The 2022 second-round pick from Washington has missed the last four games after undergoing surgery to repair a broken hand he sustained in the season opener against the Packers. Gordon was limited in practice Wednesday.
"There are a couple things you've got to evaluate," said coach Matt Eberflus. "First of all, it's the conditioning level. We'll see where he is there. And then we've got to look at his movement. His movement should be good. But really just with his conditioning and then with the use of his hand: How is he going to use that hand?
"At that position, you have to take on blocks, you have to be able to take on stalk blocks, you have to take on fan blocks, you've got to be able to fold in there and make plays in the run game, in certain games inside. How does he feel that way, and then really just executing his coverages.
"I think he's always done well with that. He's always been quick. He's always been instinctive. We anticipate seeing that as well, but just really how he is going to use that hand."
If Patrick can't play Sunday versus the Vikings, he'd likely be replaced by veteran Cody Whitehair, who moved from left guard to center after Patrick exited last Thursday night's win over the Commanders.
"That's the option that we have right now, and we like that option," Eberflus said. "Cody did a nice job in there, continues to be a pro's pro at guard, at center, so it's really good to have that flexibility. I'm glad that we had that opportunity during training camp to be able to flex those guys in and out when Lucas was out during training camp."
Stepping up: Smith, a rookie sixth-round pick from Minnesota, has excelled while starting the past two games in place of the injured Johnson.
After registering five tackles, one tackle-for-loss and one pass breakup against the Broncos, Smith made six tackles while also forcing and recovering a fumble versus the Commanders.
Smith was nominated for the Pepsi Zero Sugar NFL Rookie of the Week award for his performance against Washington.
"We love where he is right now," Eberflus said. "He is really growing, really improving. We like where his tackling is, his coverage ability, his competes, his takeaways. All those things are really good.
"He just has to continue to improve. He's going to play for us; how much and all that, we'll work through the week on that. But we certainly like where he is just in terms of his overall skill. I think [cornerbacks coach/passing game coordinator] Jon Hoke is doing an excellent job with those young corners."