Tue, 27 Oct 2020

Larry Mayer

Bears offensive line coach Juan Castillo will quarantine away from the team through Sunday after being in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.

Castillo will continue to participate in Zoom video meetings throughout the week, but he won't be at Halas Hall and won't travel to Sunday's road game against the Carolina Panthers. The individual that Castillo was in close contact with was not practice squad rookie offensive lineman Badara Traore, who last Saturday became the first Bears player to test positive for COVID-19 since the start of the regular season.

Castillo has not tested positive for the virus.

"We're just trying to be overly cautious to quarantine [Castillo] through Sunday through the guidance of the NFL and our medical experts," said coach Matt Nagy. "And to his credit, it was self-reported, which, obviously, in these times is a selfless act."

Assistant offensive line coach Donovan Raiola will assume Castillo's duties Sunday when the Bears look to improve to 5-1 in Carolina. A member of Nagy's original staff in Chicago, Raiola is in his third season as an assistant line coach. The Hawaii native was a three-time honorable mention All-Big Ten center at Wisconsin from 2003-05 and is the younger brother of Dominic Raiola, an NFL center for 14 seasons with the Lions from 2001-14.

"He'll be down on the field and interacting with those guys," Nagy said. "On gameday, it's next-man-up mentality on the coaching side, and so this is an opportunity for him to grow. He did a hell of a job today in installs and I just thought it was fun to watch that happen. The guys have trust in him, and now for us as a coaching staff, we've got to be able to help him out to help those players out."

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in March, Nagy has instructed his players and coaches to "expect the unexpected" and always be prepared to "adjust and adapt." That mentality has helped the Bears deal with the constant changes that have been necessitated by COVID-related developments.

The team recently decided to conduct practice immediately after its walk-through to eliminate a period when players would gather in the locker room. The Bears have also removed all the chairs from the lunch room and now distribute meals in takeout containers. In addition, they've switched in-person meetings to Zoom video calls and are limiting the number of players who can be in the weight room at the same time.

"That, to us, is where we're at right now, to try to do everything we can to help not just the Bears, but the NFL," Nagy said. "We don't want to be one of those 32 teams that can take this and make this go the other direction because of COVID.

"Whether that means taking two planes to an away game or having 12 buses go to a stadium, that's what we're doing right now. That's a credit to our organization for allowing us to go above and beyond."

During his first two seasons as Bears coach, Nagy never dreamed that he'd have to help navigate his team through a pandemic.

"Man, things felt so easy the last two years," Nagy said. "Now every day-I mean literally every day-that I wake up in the middle of the night, I check my phone to see, 'Do I have a text message or a missed call from [head trainer] Andre [Tucker]? Do we have somebody who has COVID?' Every single night I do it. I wake up in the morning and I'm excited when I don't have that call.

"Every single day, this thing consumes us. It's real. Not only does it consume us, but it consumes our extended family members that we go home to at night. I'm a part of this, too, now ... It could be me; sometime I get it or somebody in my family has it. We've just got to be able to roll with the punches and do every single thing we can do to make sure that we don't mess around with this thing."

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