2015 Grades: Injuries plague Bears receivers all season long


2015 Grades: Injuries plague Bears receivers all season long

Evaluating the Bears’ receiver group becomes nearly impossible – hence the “incomplete” – with the constant stream of injuries, beginning with Kevin White’s stress fracture in the offseason and continuing with Alshon Jeffery missing games with myriad injuries before going on IR, and Eddie Royal breaking down and missing seven entire games. Even No. 4 receiver Marquess Wilson was on IR with a season-ending foot injury suffered in the San Francisco game.

Emblematic of the problems at receiver: Jeffery led the Bears with 54 receptions, followed by Martellus Bennett with 53. Bennett preceded Jeffery onto IR and was a significant loss, mitigated by the emergence of Zach Miller at tight end, but even Miller was down with injury for game 16. Tight end becomes a question area given the uncertain status of Bennett and his attitude.

[MORE BEARS GRADES: Running backs ¦ Secondary]

“I think when you look at the guys who have gone down, they were the guys that were getting so many of the reps,” said offensive coordinator Adam Gase. “And then you take them off the field and now you’re putting in guys that are almost starting over a little bit.

“And we try to keep guys caught up but when you start going plays off of plays and then all of the sudden you get a new guy in there and he’s like, ‘well, I’ve never done that before,’ you almost have to start from the beginning every once in a while and get these guys caught up and then get them on the same page with the quarterback because he hasn’t had reps with them. So it does hurt you a little bit as far as how advanced you can get.”

As coach John Fox said of the overall, the Detroit game was “a microcosm of our season.” The wide receivers provided precisely that kind of game. Josh Bellamy failed to catch a key third-down pass on a back-shoulder throw in the quarter, letting the ball go right through his hands in another missed opportunity for Bellamy with the front-line receivers down. But he fought through tight coverage from Detroit rookie cornerback Quandre Diggs to haul in a 34-yard touchdown pass from Jay Cutler in the third quarter.

Cameron Meredith showed his inexperience on the Bears’ first possession when he was unable to at least break up a slightly underthrown pass in the end zone, resulting in an interception off the deflection.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

If there was a positive to emerge from the chaos at wide receiver it was the play of Marc Mariani, who finished with a modest 22 receptions, including a team-leading 6 for 80 yards in the Detroit game. Mariani projects to have an expanded role as a nickel/slot receiver with Royal, in part because the quarterback trusts him.

“He’s always been that guy,” Jay Cutler said. "He’s always the guy who is going to work extremely hard. He’s going to be where he’s supposed to be. I think now he’s just getting more attempts because our numbers have dwindled so out of necessity he’s been out there a lot more and he’s become a viable option for us.”

Moon's WR Grade: Incomplete

Aaron Lynch misses Bears practice with hamstring injury

USA Today

Aaron Lynch misses Bears practice with hamstring injury

The Chicago Bears are thin at outside linebacker after only signing Aaron Lynch to provide a pass rush opposite Leonard Floyd this season. 

Lynch was considered a risky signing in March because of his injury history. He's appeared in only 28 games over the last three years and he's already off to an injured start with the Bears.

Lynch was one of several players to miss Sunday's practice with a hamstring injury, a list that includes fellow starter, Danny Trevathan.

Lynch and Trevathan missed Saturday's practice, too.

Other Bears who sat out on Sunday were Sherrick McManis (hamstring), Daniel Brown (ankle) and Joel Iyiegbuniwe (shoulder). First-round pick Roquan Smith remains a holdout.

Lynch is in a training camp battle with Sam Acho for a starting job and will have to hold off Kylie Fitts and Isaiah Irving as well. The more time he loses to injury, the less and less likely the chances are that he'll become an impact player on defense.

It's still early, and the Bears have an extra week of training camp because of the Hall of Fame game. There's plenty of time for Lynch to get healthy and put this hamstring issue behind him. 

Matt Nagy doesn't care about being a players' coach

USA Today

Matt Nagy doesn't care about being a players' coach

Matt Nagy is a few days into his first training camp as an NFL head coach, and while he's earned praise from players up and down the Chicago Bears' roster, he said Sunday after practice that he's not concerned with being a player's coach.

"I don't care about the players' coach part," he said, "but I care that they respect me and our coaches. This isn't going to happen overnight, this is something I'm trying to build with the players.

"There's so much stuff that comes into this. There are little areas where were all growing and that's where I think the respect factor comes in for all coaches."

Nagy won't make any friends with his approach to practicing in bad weather. The first few days of Bears camp have been drenched by rain but Nagy hasn't moved practice indoors. Instead, he wants his team to get used to playing in the elements. Hardly a favor to the players, even if it will prepare them for bad weather games this season.

The Bears will debut Nagy and their new offense on August 2 against the Ravens in the Hall of Fame game. Starters will likely play only one series, if at all.