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Bears Bulletin

Reinforcements arrive to bolster Bears offense

Bears offensive lineman Lucas Patrick and receivers Byron Pringle & Velus Jones Jr.
Bears offensive lineman Lucas Patrick and receivers Byron Pringle & Velus Jones Jr.

The Bears offense received a major boost Monday as lineman Lucas Patrick and receivers Byron Pringle and Velus Jones Jr. all returned to practice after extended absences due to injuries.

It's unclear whether the trio will play in Sunday's season opener against the 49ers at Soldier Field, but more will be known Wednesday when the Bears release their first injury report of Week 1.

"A lot of guys are back," coach Matt Eberflus said after a short practice Monday. "A lot of guys are back and looking really good, looking healthy and moving around and we're assessing [their availability] as we go. We'll get all that information out to you starting on Wednesday. Everything looks really good."

Patrick was back Monday for the first time since injuring his right hand July 28 in the second practice of training camp. Asked what he's watching to determine whether the seventh-year pro will be able to play versus the 49ers, Eberflus said: "Just how he's moving around, his conditioning level, where he's at. He can certainly function at a bunch of different spots for us. We're looking at all those."

Patrick signed with the Bears in March after spending his first six NFL seasons with the Packers, appearing in 73 games with 34 starts. Since becoming a regular starter in 2020, he played both center and guard for Green Bay.

The Bears initially projected Patrick to be their starting center, but Eberflus acknowledged that the 6-3, 313-pounder is now an option at both center and guard.

The team's starting offensive line over the past three weeks has been comprised of left tackle Braxton Jones, left guard Cody Whitehair, center Sam Mustipher, right guard Teven Jenkins and right tackle Larry Borom.

The Bears likely will decide later this week if and where Patrick will play against San Francisco.

"We're looking at both combinations right now," Eberflus said. "We'll have to see where he is and we'll assess that as we go. It'll be a Wednesday, Thursday assessment and then go from there."

Pringle, meanwhile, had been sidelined with a quad injury since the first week of August.

"I feel great being back out there with the guys," he said Monday. "I know they've been putting in a lot of hard work. I've been putting in a lot of hard work inside the training room and trying to get back as soon as possible."

Asked whether he thinks he'll be able to play Sunday, Pringle said: "We'll see what happens throughout the week. We'll have a practice Wednesday and we'll see. Today I felt great though."

Returning after such a long absence presents some challenges for Pringle.

"It's a guy who's played some snaps and I think it'll be easier for him," Eberflus said. "But like I've said since the beginning, it hurts when you're not on the grass and you don't have that timing with the quarterback and the other guys running a route with you. It'll be a lot of work ahead of him to get that done, [but] I think he'll be able to get it done."

Pringle signed with the Bears in March after spending his first four NFL seasons with the Chiefs. After missing his entire rookie season due to an injury, he appeared in 46 games with eight starts the past three seasons, catching 67 passes for 898 yards and seven touchdowns. Pringle also averaged 26.6 yards with one TD on 37 kickoff returns.

In Kansas City, the percentage of offensive snaps Pringle played nearly doubled each of the last two seasons, from 14 percent in 2019 to 27 percent in 2020 to 49 percent in 2021. The 6-1, 203-pounder made the most of his expanded role last year, establishing career highs with 42 catches, 568 yards and five TDs.

Jones, a rookie third-round pick from Tennessee, missed two of the Bears' three preseason games with an undisclosed injury. In his only appearance, he flashed his speed and playmaking ability on a 48-yard punt return in a win over the Seahawks in Seattle. As long as he stays healthy, Jones is expected to make an impact on both offense and special teams as a rookie.

Check out when the Bears will wear each of their five uniform combinations throughout the 2022 season, including four different jerseys and the team's new orange alternate helmet.

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