The Chicago Bears have been dealing with offensive line injuries throughout the season, and on Sunday they will once again be short-handed in that area, as left tackle Jermon Bushrod will sit out the game with knee and ankle injuries.
Safety Ahmad Dixon, defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff and linebacker Shea McClellin will also miss the game against the Carolina Panthers for the Bears, but the big story remains Bushrod’s absence. There is no slam dunk replacement for him on that side of the line, but for now, it appears that Michael Ola will slide into that spot.
Ola had been playing left guard for the Bears with Matt Slauson out of the lineup, but the Bears are hoping that Slauson will return this week. He originally was listed as probable on the injury report Friday, but the Bears downgraded him to questionable later on in the afternoon. He was a full participant in practice on Friday afternoon after missing the last three games with a high ankle sprain, and head coach Marc Trestman expressed optimism during his press availability that they would have Slauson back in the lineup for the game.
The other question on the line is whether or not Roberto Garza will be able to play. He originally was listed as questionable on the injury report, but the Bears downgraded him to doubtful after practice Friday. If he can’t go, Brian de la Puente has done a nice job filling in for him at the center spot. Giving him another week to heal up before a tough road game against the Atlanta Falcons would make sense for the Bears, so they’ll likely play it cautious with him.
There was other good news on the injury report, as defensive end Jared Allen was listed as probable after missing Sunday’s loss to the Green Bay Packers after a bout with pneumonia. Safety Chris Conte was also listed as probable, as were wide receiver Brandon Marshall and linebackers Lance Briggs and DJ Williams.