Bears nix activating rookie Kevin White, look to 2016 season


Bears nix activating rookie Kevin White, look to 2016 season

The Bears will begin the 2016 season with two de facto No. 1 draft choices as the team has elected to let rookie wide receiver Kevin White, the No. 7-overall pick of the 2015 draft, finish the year on the reserve/physically unable to perform list.

The decision ends a frustrating half-year for White, who went into June as a projected starter opposite Alshon Jeffery and in a three-receiver group with Eddie Royal, but finished that month on the sidelines with what was subsequently diagnosed as a stress fracture of his left tibia. White began practicing with the team on Nov. 24 but a combination of factors relegates him to studying and working out with an eye toward next season.

The wide receiver’s health was the primary consideration in the decision but the reality of the Bears’ record and playoff situation were secondary considerations. Placing White on the active roster, which would have allowed him to continue practicing with the team, would have required the Bears to remove another player from the 53-man roster.

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The Bears did elevate linebacker John Timu from the practice squad to the 53-man roster and waived defensive lineman Ziggy Hood to create the roster spot.

The White saga was not without fits and starts. White experienced pain during OTA’s in June, was held out of practices and had x-rays taken of his left tibia. Sources told that seven separate medical opinions were solicited, at which time only two felt that the “shadow” on the x-ray was in fact a stress fracture.

With the lack of clear evidence, the decision was made to follow a conservative course of action, holding off on surgery, keeping White out of high-usage situations and giving the injury the six or so weeks before training camp before putting it to a test.

Coach John Fox refused to term the injury a “stress fracture,” since that was not the unanimous medical opinion. Fox’s reticence was construed by some as deception, but if the injury healed, then there was no reason to put out a diagnosis without at least a majority of opinions to that effect.

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After White tested the leg in early August during training camp and pain continued, further examination led to the definitive conclusion that the shadow on the x-ray was in fact a stress fracture, and surgery to install a metal rod in the tibia was performed in late August.

White has been gradually rehabbing in recent weeks and he was allowed to begin a maximum of three weeks of practicing on Nov. 24 before a decision was required on whether to place him on the active roster or designate him for season-ending injured reserve.

That practice window closed on Tuesday.

Do you realize just how many things have to break right for a Bears 2018 rebound?


Do you realize just how many things have to break right for a Bears 2018 rebound?

Not all that long ago, back in the seemingly promising Dave Wannstedt days, something of an annual narrative began around the Bears. All too frequently since then it has been the refrain of more offseasons than not, including last year’s. And if there is a cause for very, very sobering realism in the wake of the heady wave of free-agency signings in the first days of the new league year, it lies in what has so often transpired to put the lie to that optimism.

The mantra then, and now, has been various iterations of, “If these three (or four, or six, or 12) things work out, the Bears are gonna be good this year.” Because the reality is that all those what-ifs seldom, if ever, all come to pass, whether because of injury, mis-evaluated abilities or whatever.

Look no further than this time last offseason, just considering the offense:

If Kevin White can come back from (another) injury, if Markus Wheaton flashes his Pittsburgh speed, if Dion Sims takes that next step from a promising Miami stint, if Kyle Long is back from his lower-body issues, if Cameron Meredith comes close to those 66 catches again, if Mike Glennon has the upside that led the GM to guarantee him $18.5 million, and hey, Victor Cruz, too, if… and so on.

And exactly zero of those “if’s” came to pass, with the result that John Fox and Dowell Loggains became idiots.

The point is not to a picker of nit or sayer of nay. But the fact is that a lot of the offseason moves and player development ALL need to come down in the plus-column for the Bears to be even as good as they were back in, say, 2015, when the offense had Martellus Bennett at tight end, Alshon Jeffery at wide receiver, Eddie Royal coming in at slot receiver (with 37 catches in an injury-shortened season), Kyle Long at his Pro-Bowl best, and Jay Cutler about to have the best full season of his career. And a new (proven) head coach and defensive coordinator, and an offensive coordinator with head-coaching talent.

All those things “worked” for a team that would wobble to a 6-10 year.

Now consider 2018:

The current top two wide receivers are both – both – coming off season-ending ACL injuries;

The incoming slot receiver has never had a season as reception-productive as the one (Kendall Wright) he is replacing (59) or as many as Royal had in just nine 2015 games (37);

The new tight end has never been a starter and has fewer career catches (63) than Bennett averaged (69) in three supremely disappointing Bears seasons;

The best offensive lineman (Long) is coming off missing essentially half of each of the past two seasons with injuries, and the co-best (Sitton) is gone from an offensive line that was middle of the pack last year and has high hopes for two linemen (Hroniss Grasu, Eric Kush) who’ve been largely backups, and a third (Jordan Morgan) who missed his rookie season with an injury;

And the quarterback (Trubisky) upon whom the franchise rests, who needs to overcome any so-called sophomore jinx and improve from a rookie level (77.8 passer rating) that was barely better than Cutler’s worst NFL season (76.8).

All of which sounds negative, but it really isn’t, just a perspective. Offseasons are about hope, but realism isn’t all bad, either.

In moving forward with Dion Sims, the Bears will keep a mix of skillsets at tight end

USA Today

In moving forward with Dion Sims, the Bears will keep a mix of skillsets at tight end

When the Bears signed Trey Burton to a four-year contract worth a reported $32 million (with $18 million of it guaranteed), the natural thought was this: So long, Dion Sims. But the Bears are all but certainly going to hang on to the 27-year-old tight end after his $4 million roster bonus became fully guaranteed on Friday, barring a trade. 

“We like Dion Sims, a well-rounded tight end,” general manager Ryan Pace said on Thursday. “We’re excited we got him.”

Cynically — or, perhaps, fairly — Pace’s comments could’ve been interpreted as part of a play to trade Sims, who signed a three-year contract in 2017. The Bears saw Sims as a strong run blocker with pass-catching upside, but still gave themselves an out after one year that would’ve netted $5.666 million in cap savings. 

Sims didn’t show any of that receiving upside last year, though, catching 15 of 29 targets (51 percent) for 180 yards with one touchdown. Crucially, the Bears have the cap space to keep Sims, even with the flurry of signings they’ve announced this week -- and Kyle Fuller's reported four-year, $56 million extension -- and contract extensions looming for Eddie Goldman and possibly Adrian Amos, too. 

So hanging on to Sims means the Bears value his contributions as a run blocker and are willing to shoulder a $6.3 million cap hit for him to primarily be used in that role. The Bears expect Shaheen to be their primary in-line tight end, with Burton and Daniel Brown, who signed a one-year contract Friday, the more pass-catching-oriented “move” guys in Matt Nagy’s offense. But Sims will still have a role as the Bears look to maximize their production from the tight end position. 

“I think we can use all our tight ends,” Pace said. “I think the Super Bowl champions are a recent example of that, of using a lot of tight ends. They’re all valuable weapons. They’re all a little different. I think they all complement each other. It fits together nicely.”