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Chalk Talk

Chalk Talk: Did Foles consider opting out?

Wondering about a player, a past game or another issue involving the Bears? Senior writer Larry Mayer answers a variety of questions from fans on ChicagoBears.com.

I saw some Internet reports last week indicating that Nick Foles was thinking about opting out of the 2020 season due to the coronavirus. Do you know whether that's something that he considered?
Paul K.
Greenwood, Indiana

New Bears quarterback Nick Foles refuted that rumor during a video call with the media Friday, saying: "I think myself as well as every other player had conversations with their family, their loved ones, about what to do in this situation. My wife and I both felt strongly about pursuing playing this season. There was never a discussion about opting out." Foles and his wife have two young children, but they are confident that the protocols put in place by the NFL and the Bears will keep them safe. Said Foles: "I have a 7-week-old son. My wife and I went through a miscarriage last year. We have a 3-year-old daughter. You have to weigh those different things. But it was one of those things where my wife and I both felt great pursuing being in Chicago. And after being in the facility and seeing how much care they put into everything, it really is amazing how safe they make us feel here, how everything is separated. Obviously there are going to be different times as athletes that our interactions become closer because of football, but whenever we have an opportunity to separate, we are. It's been really impressive to see what the Bears have in place for us. You can tell a lot of people put a lot of time and effort into making the athletes and everyone who works here feel safe."

So now that there aren't going to be any preseason games, how have Bears coaches adjusted how they plan on conducting the quarterback competition?
Mike S.
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Given what's transpired this year with the coronavirus, the competition for the Bears' starting quarterback position between Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles will be unlike any other we've ever seen. With the entire preseason slate cancelled, the battle for the job will be conducted entirely in training camp practices, which won't begin until mid-August. An agreement between the NFL and NFL Players Association stipulates that teams will begin camp with an acclimation period from Aug. 3-11 during which on-field activities will be limited to strength and conditioning work and walkthrough sessions. A ramp-up period will follow Aug. 12-16, with teams allowed to conduct non-contact practices that include 7-on-7, 9-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills Aug. 14 and 16, sandwiching a players day off. Teams can hold their first padded practice Aug. 17 and are limited to 14 padded practices from Aug. 17-Sept. 6. Here's what coach Matt Nagy said about determining the winner of the quarterback competition: "We need to be creative within these drills and make sure the time that's given us to practice, that we're using it as much as we can with competitive periods. It's hard to do that in walkthroughs. It's hard to do that in meetings, even if they're in person. But when we get a chance to go out there, we're evaluating those quarterbacks every single play. Not just throw, but every single check that they make at the line of scrimmage, every bit of leadership that they show in and out of the huddle, we're watching how they react to a specific play in practice."

With defensive tackle Eddie Goldman on the reserve/COVID-19 opt out list, I'm concerned that the Bears defensive line will struggle against the run. Hopefully, that's not the case. Are players who opt out capable of changing their decision during the season and returning to play?
James G.
Allentown, Pennsylvania

It is my understanding that when players are placed on the reserve/COVID-19 opt out list, they will miss the entire season and cannot return to the active roster. The Bears will miss Eddie Goldman, but this season will be the ultimate example of the "next-man-up" philosophy. Players such as Bilal Nichols, Roy Robertson-Harris and Abdullah Anderson will have to step up and help replace Goldman.

Chalk Talk features fan questions multiple times each week. Email your question to Larry.

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