Applications now being accepted: Bears' Top 4 WRs miss practice


Applications now being accepted: Bears' Top 4 WRs miss practice

Eddie Royal, the last of the top four receivers on the Bears’ preseason depth chart, made it a foursome on Wednesday as the veteran wideout was out of practice with a hip injury.

Statuses for Saturday in Cincinnati against the Bengals won’t be clear until much closer to game time, but as of now, none of Royal, Alshon Jeffery (calf), Kevin White (shin) and Marquess Wilson (hamstring) were practicing.

“I've never been a part of anything like that, all four going down like that,” said quarterback Jay Cutler.

[MORE BEARS: Latest Bears injury clouds form over Jermon Bushrod, Pernell McPhee]

What that meant, and could mean on Saturday, is that Josh Bellamy, Rashad Lawrence, Marc Mariani and Cameron Meredith are top current top wideouts for your Chicago Bears.

“I got in the huddle there with these guys and they're all excited to be out there, they want to the ball, they want to do things the right way,” Cutler said, “so we'll see how it goes.”

None have ever started an NFL game and only Mariani has recorded a reception (five total).

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“Yeah, we got a few guys out,” coach John Fox said with a slight albeit pained smile. “But it doesn’t appear real long-term with anybody and it gives some other guys some opportunities.”

Only White, who underwent surgery last week to fix a stress fracture, is being described as other than day-to-day, meaning that at least a theoretical chance does remain that Jeffery, Royal and Wilson could play at Cincinnati. The likelihood of other than Royal playing, however, is very slight.

The good injury news of the day was the return to practice of linebacker Pernell McPhee (chest) and left tackle Jermon Bushrod (back), the latter only for on a limited basis, though.

Bears backfield ranked fourth-best in NFL

Bears backfield ranked fourth-best in NFL

The Chicago Bears have a really good problem in their backfield. Both Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen will demand touches in 2018 and are each starting-quality running backs. Howard is the more traditional first and second-down back while Cohen offers top-tier playmaking ability.

The duo is so talented that they were recently ranked the fourth-best backfield in the NFL.

The Chicago Bears' Jordan Howard has emerged as one of the NFL's top rushers. He finished his rookie season with 1,313 yards, second-most in the NFL. Last season, he rushed for 1,122 yards and 4.1 yards per carry even though Chicago had the league's least threatening passing attack (175.7 yards per game).

Howard isn't the only standout back on the roster, though. Tarik Cohen is a supremely talented runner and receiver and a perfect complement to Howard. Last season, he amassed 370 rushing yards, 53 receptions and 353 receiving yards.

The Bears' backfield was behind only the Rams, Saints and Chiefs.

Howard set Chicago's rookie rushing record with 1,313 yards in 2016 and became the first Bears running back to start his career with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. He should be the Bears' primary back, but coach Matt Nagy expressed genuine excitement over Cohen's skill set which suggests he plans on getting him the ball quite a bit this season.

Regardless of how the touches play out, the Bears will present opposing defenses with one of the most challenging ground games in the NFL.

    Tarik Cohen was NFL's best big-play RB in 2017

    Tarik Cohen was NFL's best big-play RB in 2017

    Tarik Cohen's rookie season with the Chicago Bears was an impressive blend of running, receiving and special teams play. He quickly became a household name. The combination of his diminutive frame and oversized personality made him a fan favorite, especially when he started gaining yards in chunks.

    In fact, of all running backs with a minimum of 80 carries last season, Cohen had the highest percentage of runs that went for 15 or more yards, according to Pro Football Focus.

    Cohen will have a big role in new coach Matt Nagy's offense this season because of everything he offers a play-caller. He's a weapon as a receiver out of the backfield and can chew up yards on the ground like any traditional running back. He's a hold-your-breath talent who can turn a bad play into a touchdown in the blink of an eye.

    Cohen had 370 rushing yards, 353 receiving yards and three offensive touchdowns in what can be described as a limited role last year. John Fox and Dowell Loggains didn't seem to ever figure out how to best use Cohen's skill set. That should be no issue for Nagy and Mark Helfrich, the team's new offensive coordinator, who both bring a creative offensive approach to Chicago.

    Jordan Howard will be the starter and will do most of the heavy lifting. But Cohen is going to have a much bigger role than he had as a rookie, and that should result in more big plays and points on the board.