The Bears have moved all meetings from in-person to virtual this week after head coach Matt Nagy tested positive for COVID-19.
Nagy became the second coach on the staff to miss time due to COVID-19 protocols in the last two weeks. Five players have been placed on the COVID-19 reserve list, and four currently remain on the list.
Speaking with the media virtually over Zoom on Wednesday, Nagy confirmed that special teams coordinator Chris Tabor would serve as acting head coach if Nagy weren’t available to coach in Sunday’s game against the San Francisco 49ers at Soldier Field.
“In the meantime, what we’re doing is we have these contingency plans set, which we actually went through last year,” Nagy said. “What we’ve done, we’ve been able to really meet together virtually.”
Nagy, who declined to say where he was currently quarantining, said he has the ability to watch practices virtually. As the team did when the head coach quarantined in the spring, someone on staff is carrying around a tablet with a direct live stream for him.
Nagy, who is vaccinated, is uncertain when he will be allowed to return to the team.
Currently outside linebacker Robert Quinn, offensive tackle Elijah Wilkinson, inside linebacker Caleb Johnson and tight end Jimmy Graham are on the COVID-19 list. Nagy said no additional players would be placed on the list Wednesday.
Per the NFL’s coronavirus protocols, players who are vaccinated can return off the COVID-19 list if they are symptom-free and produce two negative COVID-19 tests at least 24 hours apart. Players who are unvaccinated must quarantine for 10 days if they test positive for the virus or five days if they are deemed to be a close contact of someone who tests positive.
“It’s definitely a concern,” receiver Allen Robinson said. “As far as being more cautious and making sure I’m doing everything I need as far as keeping myself a little bit distant, making sure I’m taking all the proper protocols myself to make sure I’m staying healthy and my family [is] healthy.”
Certainly the Bears are used to hosting meetings virtually. The entire NFL moved to virtual meetings midway through the 2020 season, back before the vaccines were available. But up until this week, the team had been operating in-person since training camp.
Borom returns: Rookie offensive tackle Larry Borom is returning to the practice field this week. Borom has been out since Week 1 with an ankle injury. This doesn’t necessarily mean Borom will be back for Sunday’s game. It opens a 21-day window during which he technically remains on IR, but he can practice and the team can activate him anytime during those 21 days.
Nagy confirmed this a day after left tackle Jason Peters let slip that Borom was set to return.
That’s positive news for the offensive line, which was in shambles Sunday against Tampa Bay. Borom will certainly be a candidate to take over the right tackle position whenever he does return. The big thing now will be making sure his conditioning is game-ready.
“He’s been working hard, so we’re going to try to really push him and see where he can go,” Nagy said.
Borom injured his ankle Week 1 against the Los Angeles Rams, when he stepped in at left tackle after Peters left the game with an injury. Borom spent a lot of time at left tackle during training camp, but has college experience at right tackle.
For the time being, tackles Germain Ifedi (knee) and Teven Jenkins (back), as well as running back David Montgomery (knee) and safety Deon Bush (quad) will all remain on IR, Nagy said.