Nose tackle Eddie Goldman missed practice for the third straight day Friday and was downgraded to out after originally being listed as doubtful for Sunday night's season opener against the Rams.
The 6-3, 325-pounder, who rejoined the Bears for training camp after opting out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns, hurt his knee in practice Monday. He was downgraded Saturday and did not travel with the team to Los Angeles.
The only nose tackle listed on the Bears’ depth chart behind Goldman is rookie Khyiris Tonga, a physical seventh-round draft pick from BYU who has impressed coaches since the pads came on in training camp.
"First of all, he's a great kid," Nagy said. "He's just a hard worker and tough as nails, so you love that about him. He's done everything we've asked. He's created a lot of depth for us and he's very coachable, and I think coach [Chris] Rumph has done a great job of really early on here developing him."
Another player who could help fill the void is veteran end Bilal Nichols, who contributed at nose tackle last season when Goldman was sitting out. The 2018 fifth-round pick from Delaware established career highs last year with 16 starts, 40 tackles, 5.0 sacks and 7.0 tackles-for-loss while also generating his first career interception against Sunday night's opponent, quarterback Matthew Stafford.
Nichols said Friday that he'd do whatever he's asked to help the Bears win.
"If that's going in there and playing inside, then I've got to do what I've got to do," Nichols said. "To me, it really doesn't matter, as long as I'm out there giving everything I've got to give us a chance to win."
Nichols discussed the differences between lining up inside at nose tackle versus outside at end in a five-technique position.
"The good thing about playing on the D-line here is that all of us train for all positions," he said. "Just in case anything ever happens, we have versatility.
"As far as playing the five tech versus the nose, as a five tech you have a little more space out there on the outside. You have a little bit more room to work with … when you're inside at the nose, everything happens a little bit faster. You've got guys on you a little bit faster, so you've got to be really precise in how you shoot your hands, your targeting, the way your feet move. Your feet can't be slow. Sometimes at five technique you can make up for bad steps because you have a little more time. But when you're down there at nose, you have to be a lot more precise."
Just as veteran Akiem Hicks took Nichols under his wing a few years ago, Nichols has welcomed the opportunity to mentor Tonga.
"One thing I noticed about Tonga early is that he doesn't act like a rookie," Nichols said. "Very mature guy. You wouldn't think that he was a rookie. You would think that he's been in the league for a couple years the way he carries himself.
"Another thing I noticed about him is he works hard. He wants to be great. He comes in every day with the intent to get better and better, always asking questions, always looking for a way to get better. Player to player, you respect that. Those are the type of guys you love to go to war with because you know he's going to give it everything he's got."
In other injury news, outside linebackers Khalil Mack (groin) and Robert Quinn (back), receiver Darnell Mooney (back) and inside linebacker Joel Iyiegbuniwe (shoulder) all practiced in full Friday after being limited Thursday and were listed as questionable.
Navy. White. Orange. Classic. Take a look at when the Bears will wear each of their four jerseys during the 2021 season.