LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Second-year right tackle Jordan Mills missed the entire preseason as the Chicago Bears took a conservative approach to his rehabilitation from offseason foot surgery, but the expectation is he’ll be ready to play Sunday when the club hosts the Buffalo Bills in the season opener.
Mills participated in practice at Halas Hall on Monday, and later compared his absence to riding a bike, saying, “You never forget how to ride it.”
“I had to knock a little rust off, and once I got in, it’s like I never left,” Mills said.
Mills missed two weeks of work due to soreness in his left foot before returning to practice on Aug. 20. But he was held out of all the club’s preseason outings. Mills underwent surgery back in January to repair a fractured metatarsal in his left foot, and the team has since brought the tackle along slowly.
As a rookie last season, Mills started in all 16 games but left the season finale against the Green Bay Packers after the first series due to the foot injury. Throughout the preseason, Mills continues to express optimism about his availability for the Sept. 7 opener, and on Monday nothing had changed.
With the team taking such a cautious approach in bringing him back, Mills hinted on Monday that he wouldn’t have missed so much time had the preseason been the regular season.
Asked how ready he is to start the regular season, Mills said, "I'm very ready."
“If I had to [play], I would have,” Mills said. “But if the trainers felt [I] needed to sit out, I would’ve tried my best to get back in. But we have a great training staff, and they’re here for my best interests. So if I had to sit out, I’d sit out. But I would’ve fought every chance I got to get back on the field.”
Given all the time Mills has missed, it’s natural to question whether Chicago’s offensive line will hit the field against the Bills as a cohesive group. Offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer said last week that Mills’ absence along with others along the offensive line gave the staff extra opportunities to evaluate potential backups.
“The positive of that is it has given us an opportunity to give reps to other players, and it has opened the door for them,” Kromer said.