Four Bears players, including two who started games for the team last season and one who looked good in last week’s Hall of Fame Game, will not make the trip to Cincinnati for Thursday night’s preseason game, the team announced.
Wide receiver Joshua Bellamy, defensive back Rashard Fant, linebacker Isaiah Irving and tight end Dion Sims will stay back while their teammates take on the Bengals on Thursday at Paul Brown Stadium.
Sims started all 14 games he played in 2017 after joining the Bears in free agency before last season. He was considered a disappointment from a receiving production standpoint (15 catches, 180 yards, one touchdown), especially after the Bears lost Zach Miller to a career-threatening injury and rookie Adam Shaheen started slowly at the position, but coach Matt Nagy called Sims a “valuable piece of this puzzle” in May.
It’s not clear what injury will prevent Sims from making the trip.
Bellamy has been a valuable special-teams contributor for the Bears since joining the team in the 2014 season, and he started seven games last season, catching 24 passes for 376 yards and one touchdown. But Bellamy, who is dealing with a shoulder injury, struggled with drops last season and early in camp and suddenly faces a crowded wide receivers room with a revamped roster.
The most disappointing omission from the upcoming exhibition game might be Irving, who is coming off a standout performance in the Hall of Fame Game loss to the Ravens.
Irving made several impressive plays on defense with the reserves. He joined the Bears last season as an undrafted rookie out of San Jose State, making two tackles and recovering a fumble in seven games in 2017.
Fant, an undrafted rookie out of Indiana, signed with the Bears after not being selected in April’s draft. He had five interceptions in four seasons for the Hoosiers and projects to being a nickel corner if he can make it in the NFL. But so far, injuries have kept him from achieving much in camp with the Bears.
There will be others who do not play in Thursday’s game, decisions that Nagy said the coaching staff began figuring out starting late Tuesday night.
The Bears mainly used backups in last week’s Hall of Fame Game loss to the Ravens. This visit to Cincinnati, however, is the first chance to see Mitch Trubisky operate Nagy’s new offense in game conditions. The Trubisky to Allen Robinson connection started to show up more in practice this week.
Cincinnati overhauled its porous offensive line, bringing in veteran tackles Cordy Glenn and Bobby Hart and drafting center Billy Price in the first round.
• The Associated Press contributed to this report.