LAKE FOREST – The Bears already placed nickel cornerback Kyler Gordon on injured reserve Thursday. Second-year pro Josh Blackwell was expected to come in and replace Gordon at the position. He did last week after Gordon exited the Week 1 loss to the Packers.
That plan, however, has become more complicated.
Blackwell sat out practice Friday at Halas Hall because of a hamstring injury. He has not practiced at all since Wednesday. The Bears officially listed Blackwell as doubtful for Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Bears could be heading into this matchup without either of their top two options at nickel corner. The nickel typically guards the slot receiver and plays closer to the formation. It’s a notoriously tricky position because the defensive back who plays it has to be able to cover the pass and help against the run.
Gordon spent the entire offseason focusing solely on that position. He previously had moved between the slot and the boundary.
Candidates to take on the role might be rookie corner Terell Smith, rookie Tyrique Stevenson or backup Jaylon Jones. The Bears also called up Greg Stroman Jr. from the practice squad. Stroman had an interception during his only start last season.
Safety Jaquan Brisker indicated it could be Stroman playing the nickel Sunday.
“I’m comfortable with Stro coming in and taking over as the nickel, and we’re not really going to miss a beat,” Brisker said Friday.
Additionally, Friday’s injury report noted that linebacker Dylan Cole (hamstring) was a full participant, and tight end Marcedes Lewis was a full participant after taking Thursday off for extra rest.
Gordon had surgery on his broken hand Thursday, Eberflus said. Gordon will have to miss at least four games. The Bears hope to have him back after an Oct. 5 game against Washington.
“We’re anticipating if all things go well he can be back after Washington,” Eberflus said. “We’ll keep him in our prayers and all that. We visited earlier, and his teammates have been talking to him, and he’s in a good spot, mentally, right now.”