LONDON – Three key Bears starters who sat out last weekend’s win over the Vikings could return to action Sunday against the Raiders in London.
Right guard Kyle Long and inside linebacker Roquan Smith both practiced without restrictions Friday and were removed from the injury report. Defensive tackle Akiem Hicks was limited and is listed as questionable, but coach Matt Nagy said that he’s “cautiously optimistic” the Pro Bowler will be able to play Sunday.
The Bears practiced Friday in London’s Allianz Park, the home stadium of England’s top rugby team, the Saracens Football Club.
Long appears ready to rejoin the offensive line after missing the Vikings game with a hip injury. His replacement, Ted Larsen, hurt his knee against Minnesota and did not travel with the Bears to London.
Smith, who was a surprise late scratch last Sunday due to an undisclosed personal issue, practiced without restrictions all week and said Wednesday that he would play against the Raiders.
“I feel good about that unless there would be some type of setback,” Nagy said. “He’s had a good week and that’s where we’re at with that.”
Hicks sat out the Vikings win with a knee injury. His status for Sunday’s game won’t be finalized until a few hours before kickoff, but he’s trending in the right direction.
“I feel cautiously optimistic about it,” Nagy said. “He’s going to be [a] game-time [decision]. He was out here today and I was happy with how he looked.”
Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky (shoulder) and defensive end Bilal Nichols (hand) did not practice and were officially ruled out of Sunday’s game. Larsen and receiver Taylor Gabriel (concussion) had been ruled out earlier in the week. Linebacker Joel Iyiegbuniwe (hamstring) also did not practice and is doubtful.
The Bears left Chicago Thursday night and arrived in London in the wee hours of Friday morning. Nagy was concerned that players might be sluggish at practice, so he opened the session with a dance battle between running back Tarik Cohen and linebacker Josh Woods.
After practice, Nagy was happy to report that no extra spark was necessary.
“The best part of today was that you never know what you’re going to get in practice and there was a ton of energy,” Nagy said. “We spiced it up a little bit with just a little dance deal to get them going. But they didn’t really need that.
“Lots of juice, lots of energy. It could easily go the other way where you feel sorry for yourself. It’s a long trip. It’s overnight, We didn’t really get to sleep in our beds. We crammed in a plane. And then you wait all day. [But] it does not surprise me at all. You want that so it helps you play better on Sunday night.
“Everybody had it. There was nobody that didn’t have it. Guys were out running around. Their routes were fast, the coverage was fast. It was a normal practice. It could have easily went the other way, [but] they had a great practice.”