The Bears were alarmed by the sight of star safety Eddie Jackson falling to the turf with a non-contact foot injury, and given how quickly the team ruled him out for the rest of the game, there was fear it’d be season-ending.
That concern lingered at Halas Hall on Monday, when coach Matt Eberflus said the severity still hadn’t been determined, but he was prepared to “get some young guys ready to play” if Jackson heads to injured reserve.
Jackson isn’t replaceable, though — not when he’s been playing at this level.
He was having a resurgent season before exiting in the second quarter of the 31-10 loss to the Jets on Sunday. He led the team with four interceptions and two forced fumbles and had been one of the defense’s few reliable pieces. He was the leading Pro Bowl vote getter at free safety in the update the NFL released Monday.
Jackson, who was thought to be a candidate to be traded or released in the recent offseason, was playing like someone the Bears wanted as a pillar of their future.
“I’m really encouraged with — He struggled a little bit last year, but his ability to make plays right now has been good,” general manager Ryan Poles said last month. “I like his physicality. I thought that was lacking a little bit before. He’s coming in and making tackles and making plays, so that’s been great.”
The Bears hope to get rookie Jaquan Brisker back from a concussion in time to play against the Packers, and veteran DeAndre Houston-Carson is the safety they would most trust to play in Jackson’s place.
However, Houston-Carson has been predominantly a special teamer and he’s 29. The Bears would be incentivized to try rookie Elijah Hicks, a seventh-round pick from Cal who hadn’t appeared on defense before getting 39 snaps against the Jets. They also have undrafted rookie A.J. Thomas on their practice squad.
Dane Cruikshank, who has played mostly on special teams this season, left the Jets game after reinjuring his hamstring.
Jackson’s injury was one of several for the Bears at MetLife, which is notorious for players criticizing the stability of its turf. Wide receiver Chase Claypool mentioned it when discussing what appeared to be a knee injury, and Houston-Carson said he was concerned the moment he stepped onto the field.
“I don’t know all of the science and all that stuff behind turf and grass and whatnot, but before the game, making breaks, my joints were feeling achy,” he said. “They’ve got to do something to figure it out.”
The players’ union has been pushing for every stadium to install grass — the Cardinals figured out a way to do it in their dome — and Eberflus supported it.
“It’s a players’ game, right?” he said. “We’ve got to keep good players in the game.”
Injuries to watch
The Bears lost wide receiver Darnell Mooney to a season-ending ankle injury and might be thin at the position behind him. Claypool and Equanimeous St. Brown also got hurt against the Jets, though Eberflus labeled them day-to-day rather than long-term injuries.
And there’s no telling what will happen to an offensive line that was already being cobbled together each week. Starting right tackle Riley Reiff hurt his shoulder. That allowed Larry Borom to reclaim his spot — until he exited with an ankle injury in the fourth quarter.
The Bears used guard Michael Schofield at right tackle then, but Eberflus said Monday “all combinations” are up for consideration if Reiff and Borom are out against the Packers. He mentioned Schofield and Alex Leatherwood on his own and, when asked, didn’t shoot down the option of moving right guard Teven Jenkins to that spot.