The Bears offense and its weekly musical-chairs situation at wide receiver would have welcomed one more lineup shuffle, that of working rookie Kevin White into the lineup for a unit ranked 18th in passing yards per game. After the Bears lost both the San Francisco and Washington games, it wasn’t to be, although the stated reasons did not involve the Bears’ record or chances of a playoff spot.
“I think he’d been away from football a long time, other than a few reps in rookie minicamp and some of the offseason,” coach John Fox said. “He really hadn’t played football since West Virginia. So we just deemed it best to take him out these last three games and get him ready for next year.”
The situation is mildly surprising if only because no indication has come that White is not sufficiently recovered from surgery to repair a stress fracture of his left tibia. And Fox has said that if a player is cleared to play, typically he plays, depending on game-day roster needs. White said prior to the shutdown that the situation was not his call.
That the Bears are effectively out of meaningful playoff consideration suggests itself as part of the decision, although Fox did not cite that as a reason. Using a roster spot for White just for the sake of the rookie practicing is problematic in a sport that has players unavailable on a weekly basis.
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“At this point in the season, much like most of our season, you have nicks,” Fox said. “It’s hard to hold a spot for those three practices. Our training staff can simulate most of what he can do, that he’s doing in practice. He’s not scrimmaging, he’s not in full pads and we’re not banging him around. We can simulate that with the training staff within the NFL rules.”