Wild day for Chicago Bears, but in some ways 'it was like riding a bike'
In some ways, it was a strange day at Halas Hall on Thursday as the Bears prepared to host the Houston Texans on Sunday at Soldier Field.
And, in other ways, it wasn't. It was just so 2020.
When players, coaches and staff arrived in the morning, it was learned that a player tested positive for COVID-19. The Bears' response was to shut down the facility, call off practice and send the players home.
At first, the hope was just to be able to hold a walk-through in the evening and follow that up with an all-out practice Friday.
But 2020 being 2020, things turned on a dime and the Bears actually were able to hold a full practice at 2:30 p.m.
Because they've been through similar situations this season, the Bears are getting to be old hands at adjusting on the fly and staying flexible on a minute-by-minute basis.
"I feel like we had a day like that in training camp where we all left and came back," said offensive tackle Charles Leno Jr. "We've already been through this. So it was like riding a bike honestly."
The Bears ended up placing wide receiver DeAndre Carter on the reserve/COVID-19 list Thursday afternoon. He has begun self-isolation, and the Bears were working with medical experts to identify any close contacts with Carter.
If a player is deemed to be a high-risk close contact, he would also go on the reserve/COVID-19 list and miss Sunday's game against Houston.
The Bears did put three practice-squad players on the reserve/COVID-19 list this week: defensive tackle LaCale London, linebacker Manti Te'o and receiver Thomas Ives. This list is meant for players who tested positive as well as being a close contact with a positive person.
So far the Bears have been relatively lucky in dealing with COVID-19.
They've been spared the nightmares that have affected the Broncos (who lost four QBs in one week), the Ravens (who had a game rescheduled three times) and the 49ers (who have temporarily relocated to Arizona).
Some wonder how much of a toll this is taking on players, but head coach Matt Nagy sensed none of that when he met with the team via Zoom on Thursday.
"This is where you have to be built for this kind of mental toughness," Nagy said. "All of us."
Said Leno Jr.: "That's what this season is all about. We've been talking about adapting from every single situation. So we've been doing that since Day 1. ...
"I'm just happy we was able to get to work ... (because) I was in here and I was told to leave and I thought I wasn't coming back. Coming back in was really cool, seeing everybody again."
Nagy thought back to the beginning of the season, when he was wondering just how bad things might get if everyone didn't take things seriously. In the months since, he has been impressed with the league's handling of the pandemic and is thrilled that "we've made it this far."
Now that we've reached Week 14, there's a big difference in how Nagy reacts to a positive test compared to earlier in the season.
"Now you start learning a little bit more on how to handle certain things," he said. "There's a lot more calm between (everybody). ...
"In an organization like this -- with 125 people in the building -- (it's) making sure that you communicate the right way. You explain what's going on, why it's going on and everybody understands.
"This is a worldwide pandemic and we've been educated from people way higher than us telling us, 'Listen -- this is gonna happen. You're crazy if you think there's gonna be no cases.' ...
"Now that we've had a few more cases recently, we've got to keep digging into, 'How do we do everything that we can to eliminate it the best we can?' But (we still want) to have your meetings and still be able to have your practices and still be able to play games.
"Because that's our job -- to be able to help this league play games."