Middle linebacker Nick Forbes, struggling with a back injury for the past two weeks, is not likely to play in the Bears’ opener Saturday against No. 22 Northwestern.
“He feels good some days, doesn’t feel good other days,” coach Sonny Dykes said after Monday night’s practice in which Forbes did not participate. “I would expect him probably not to play, quite frankly.
“We’ll see how it plays out. He’s going to be more than likely doubtful.”
If Forbes cannot go, redshirt freshman Hardy Nickerson Jr. will make his debut.
The news was somewhat better regarding starting strong safety Avery Sebastian, who practiced in pads for the first time since sustaining a concussion during a scrimmage two weeks earlier.
“He was moving fine, told me he felt great, and looking forward to him having a good week of practice,” Dykes said. “We’re going to continue to progress him. He’s full contact right now. I would expect him to play.”
Sebastian confirmed that he felt great, but couldn’t commit that he will be ready to play Saturday.
Talking about the importance of rehabbing the injury thoroughly, Sebastian said, “Missing one game is not really going to mean anything. I have a whole life after football.”
Told that Dykes believes he might play, Sebastian added, “Right now it’s really on me and how I feel throughout this week. That’s why they’re letting me do more and more each day. I’m just going to see how I feel and we’ll go from there.”
As usual, there was no real news on the status of defensive end Brennan Scarlett, who continued to be on the field but wearing a no-contact red jersey. Dykes said Scarlett, who broke his left hand twice last season, still is awaiting clearance from his doctor, whom he will see once more this week.
Dykes characterized Scarlett’s chances of playing as being better than Forbes, but said he won’t even be able to play with his hand heavily wrapped like a club until he gets medical approval.
“It’s the same old deal, we want him to get healthy,” Dykes said. “He could go out there and play with a club and risk injury and be ineffective or we could try to get him healthy.”