Bears running back David Montgomery and cornerback Jaylon Johnson have been ruled out of Sunday's road game against the Giants with injuries.
Neither player was able to practice this week. Montgomery exited last Sunday's win over the Texans with an ankle injury, while Johnson will miss his second straight game with a quad injury he sustained in practice.
Safety Dane Cruikshank (hamstring) and kicker Cairo Santos (personal) have also been ruled out of Sunday's contest, while tight end Ryan Griffin (Achilles) and linebacker Matt Adams (hamstring) are doubtful. Cruikshank and Griffin did not practice all week, Santos missed Thursday's and Friday's workouts, while Adams returned Friday on a limited basis.
Three Bears are questionable: receiver Velus Jones Jr. (hamstring), defensive end Robert Quinn (illness) and linebacker Sterling Weatherford (ankle). Jones and Weatherford were full participants in practice Friday, Quinn was limited and Santos did not participate.
Velus Jones Jr.
Linebacker Roquan Smith practiced without restrictions Friday after being limited Wednesday and Thursday with a quad injury. He was not given an injury designation, meaning that he will play Sunday against the Giants.
After missing the first three games of his rookie season, Jones hopes to make his NFL debut this weekend. Before being sidelined, the third-round pick from Tennessee was expected to be a key contributor on offense and special teams, where he's listed as the top punt returner on the depth chart.
"We can definitely use him," said quarterback Justin Fields. "He's a great athlete. He's great with the ball in his hands. He can help stretch the defense vertically just with his speed."
Fields was impressed with how Jones approached practice the past few weeks even though he wasn't ready for game action.
"In his time out, he's been really locking in on plays, even on some of the no-huddle plays," Fields said. "Even though he's not going to play that week, he's been locked in mentally and just preparing himself each week like he's playing."
With Montgomery unable to suit up Sunday, Khalil Herbert will serve as the Bears' No. 1 running back. The 2021 sixth-round pick has excelled in each of his first two NFL seasons in that role after Montgomery was sidelined.
In four games last year from Weeks 5-8 when Montgomery was out with a knee injury, Herbert rushed for 344 yards, the fourth most in the NFL during that span. After Montgomery exited last week's game against the Texans on the Bears' second possession, Herbert ran for a career-high 157 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries.
Asked why he has faith in Herbert, Eberflus said: "Just his history. You look at last year what he did … he's done it. He's a good player. He's an exciting guy to watch."
"He's a hard worker," Fields added. "Smart. When he gets in the game, he's going to know what to do and he's a hard runner. It's hard to bring him down. He's a great running back."
With Johnson inactive against the Texans, the Bears started Kindle Vildor and Kyler Gordon at cornerback and then moved Gordon inside to nickel in passing situations, with Jaylon Jones replacing him at cornerback.
Jones, an undrafted rookie from Mississippi, recorded two tackles while playing 32 of 57 defensive snaps (54 percent). It was his first action on defense after lining up exclusively on special teams in the first two games.
Asked what he'd like to see from Jones Sunday, Eberflus said: "Just more consistency. We thought he had some really good snaps, really good coverage snaps. He did a nice job in the run game … just more consistency really from him, but he had a good week of practice."
The Giants, meanwhile, will be missing three of their top four receivers. Wan'Dale Robinson (knee) and Kadarius Toney (hamstring) have been ruled out with injuries, while Sterling Shepard was placed on injured reserve this week after suffering a torn ACL in Monday night's loss to the Cowboys. Their only healthy starting receiver is Kenny Golladay.