Bears

Bears NFL Draft Preview: Creating WR depth while waiting for Kevin White's emergence

Bears NFL Draft Preview: Creating WR depth while waiting for Kevin White's emergence

CSNChicago.com Bears Insider John "Moon" Mullin goes position-by-position as the Bears approach the 2017 Draft, taking a look at what the Bears have, what they might need, and what draft day and after could have in store. Seventh in a series.

Bears pre-draft situation

Alshon Jeffery is on to Philadelphia after striking a one-year deal with the Eagles. For an offense that has let go of Jeffery, Brandon Marshall, Matt Forte, Martellus Bennett and Jay Cutler since the arrival of John Fox and his coaching staff in 2015, the search for replacement firepower has seldom been more urgent.

The splash from Cameron Meredith (14 games, 66 receptions) was a significant bright spot from the dismal '16. Bears are still waiting for some impact — ANY impact — from Kevin White after making him the No. 7 pick of the '15 draft and seeing his two NFL seasons end with broken leg bones. White was leading the Bears with 19 catches through four games last season when he was lost for the year, so some very guarded optimism is allowable.

"Kevin is going to have to step up, stay healthy, and he knows that, and he's motivated," said GM Ryan Pace. "We're excited about a handful of guys and we still have the draft ahead of us, too."

The free-agency addition of Eddie Royal in '15 was intended to bring an immediate infusion of veteran savvy and production at the nickel spot. Both his seasons were gutted by injuries, with a total of 70 receptions, the second-lowest two-year total of his nine-year career. Royal had foot surgery in December and is expected to be released when sufficiently healed.

This offseason was marked by a commitment to upgrading wideout speed, coming in the forms of Markus Wheaton from Pittsburgh and Kendall Wright from Tennessee.

"Markus is a deep threat receiver," Pace said. "[In] 2015 he was Top 10 in reception average. I really like his makeup and his toughness going all the way back to Oregon State, but he's a guy who can really run and gives us that element in our offense that I think that we need, speed. Unfortunately, he had a shoulder injury last year that happened kind of early in the season and then eventually needed surgery on it. But he's fully cleared now and we feel good about that now."

Pre-draft depth-chart'ing starters

WR - Kevin White

WR - Cam Meredith

WR - Markus Wheaton/Kendall Wright

Reserves: Dres Anderson, Josh Bellamy, Daniel Braverman, Rueben Randle, Eddie Royal, Deonte Thompson

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Bears draft priority: Low/moderate

Names were added to the pool of options but none of the stature of Jeffery, and until the aggregate proves to better than simply average, the Bears will always look to add impact points-producers when the options present themselves. Rarely has their receiver corps had so many unprovens going into a season.

The organization believes White's run of bad luck is due to change and reduced some of the positional urgency with the offseason additions. Wheaton signed a two-year deal, Wright for one year, Meredith has had just one meaningful season and White is a virtual "rookie" for the third straight year.

Pace has drafted a wideout in each of his two drafts, White in '15 and Braverman last year. Braverman played three games without a catch and will be in another intense competition for a roster spot. Best guess would be a late-round wideout with abilities to enhance the return game.

Keep an eye on ...

Kenny Golladay, Northern Illinois — Caught 160 passes over two NIU seasons. Fits Bears' template for size (6-4, 218) and had private workout with them.

Jordan Westerkamp, Nebraska — Bears staffed his workout and could find a spot as a practice-squad player able to fill nickel role.

Chad Williams, Grambling — Private workout for Bears, had huge production and may be a value late-round pick for development.

Mitch Trubisky begins throwing again as Bears continue to monitor his status for Sunday's game

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USA Today

Mitch Trubisky begins throwing again as Bears continue to monitor his status for Sunday's game

The Bears returned to practice on Monday, the first time the team was at Halas Hall since they left for London almost two weeks ago. Among those who did practice was starting quarterback Mitch Trubisky, who has been out for most of the last two games with an injured non-throwing shoulder. Head coach Matt Nagy wouldn’t definitively say whether Trubisky would start on Sunday against the Saints, but was encouraged by what he saw from the quarterback in practice. 

“His situation for us is seeing exactly where he’s at with pain,” Nagy said on Monday. “Just all of us collaborating exactly to see where he is, so that we can make a decision as to which way we want to go for this week –– whether he’s ready or if he’s not ready.” 

It was reported that Trubisky suffered a dislocated left shoulder, along with a slight labrum tear, when Minnesota defensive lineman Danielle Hunter tripped up the QB on the Bears’ first offensive drive of their Week 3 win over the Vikings. 

Monday was the first time he had thrown footballs since suffering the injury, a progression that –– along with the Bears moving 3rd string QB Tyler Bray back to the practice squad –– indicates Trubisky may not be far from returning. He wasn’t put on a pitch-count during Mos practice, and the next step is assessing his pain tolerance. Nagy was adamant, however, in his assurance that if Trubisky is back on the field against New Orleans, it’ll be because the team is fully confident in his ability to absorb hits. 

“If he ends up playing, then he plays,” he said. “... You can’t tell someone to play a game and not get hit. You can’t do it. If you’re okay to play a game, than you’re okay to get hit. It’s not hard – it’s pretty simple.” 

Coming out of the bye, the Bears now head into a doozy of a schedule that includes games against (among others) Philadelphia, New Orleans, Dallas, and Kansas City. The Bears had one of, if not the, least productive offenses in football with Trubisky at the helm through the first three weeks, and Nagy talked on Monday about how the team is quickly approaching the point in the season where title contenders move away from the pack. There’s a good bit of pressure on the offense to figure out a quick fix, but it’s not changing what type of progression they’re expecting to see out of their third-year QB. 

“If he’s able to play, then I want to just be able to see the stuff I’ve always been looking for,” Nagy said. “Which is just in-and-out of the huddle, making throws at the right time, and then making proper decisions –– whether it’s in the run game or the pass game.”

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Kyle Long placed on Injured reserve

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USA Today

Kyle Long placed on Injured reserve

The Bears have guard Kyle Long on injured reserve due to hip injury. The Bears announced they moved DL Abdullah Anderson from the practice squad to the active roster. They have also signed TE Dax Robinson to the practice squad.

Long is a seven-year vet of the Bears and had played the first three games of the 2019 season. He sat on Week 4’s matchup against the Vikings due to his hip but came back to play against the Raiders in London in Week 5.

This news is tough to take considering the Bears offensive struggles this season and Long’s history with the team.

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