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Eddie Goldman is expected to report to Chicago Bears training camp next week after opting out of the 2020 season

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Chicago Bears nose tackle Eddie Goldman plans to report to training camp on time next week and is eager to get back on the practice field, according to sources with knowledge of Goldman’s intentions.

Goldman’s absence from organized team activities and mandatory mini-camp this spring coupled with his decision to opt out of the 2020 season last year because of personal health-related concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic raised questions as to whether the 27-year-old was still fully committed to continuing his career. But those questions should be answered definitively next week when camp begins in Lake Forest.

The Bears’ official reporting date is Tuesday at Halas Hall and the team’s first practice is scheduled for the following afternoon. Goldman plans to be in attendance and ready to go, according to sources.

A second-round pick in 2015, Goldman has been a key contributor to the Bears defense for five seasons and was tabbed as an alternate for the Pro Bowl in 2019. His return to the line should provide a major boost to a defense that is hoping to regain its dominance this season.

New coordinator Sean Desai said earlier this spring he was ready to welcome Goldman back with open arms.

“To get a guy back who has some proven history in this league and has played at a high level, is exciting for all of us,” Desai said. “Again, we’ve got to make sure he gets back and that we see him play football because none of us have seen him play football in a year.”

Goldman had been at Halas Hall briefly in May to begin the process of his return. At that time, there was internal excitement for the shape he was in and the way he had taken care of his body during his year away from football.

Almost all the Bears’ defensive starters chose to skip the team’s two weeks of organized team activity practices this spring. So Goldman’s absence during that period wasn’t alarming. But when he failed to show up for a week of mandatory minicamp, outside speculation arose on whether he would show up to training camp or continue his career with the Bears.

Matt Nagy was pressed on Goldman’s status at the end of minicamp and emphasized that the defensive tackle’s absence wasn’t excused. Nagy did, however, express optimism about Goldman’s outlook for 2021.

“We do expect him to be at training camp rocking and rolling,” Nagy said.

Those expectations figure to be met next week.

According to one source, Goldman’s minicamp absence was tied in part to a family-related issue. Goldman has been in the Chicago area training recently and figures to be back inside Halas Hall on Tuesday with a probable return to practice on Wednesday. That will be a welcome sight for the Bears defense.

Goldman will be adjusting to a new position coach this season with Chris Rumph replacing Jay Rodgers, who was with Goldman since his first day as a rookie but departed this winter to become the outside linebackers coach for the Los Angeles Chargers.

Rumph expressed his excitement earlier this offseason to begin working with Goldman.

“Hopefully with Eddie Goldman it’s like riding a bike,” he said. “He’ll just pick it back up and start pedaling again. He probably won’t be able to pop any wheelies right now. But eventually he will be able to pop some wheelies. … I want to get to know him, get to know his heart and hopefully get him back to the level he’s played at and continue to take him higher and higher so he can (reach) that peak performance.”

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