BOURBONNAIS — The bad news for Kevin White, which began with the rookie wide receiver and No. 7 pick of the 2015 NFL Draft suffering a stress fracture earlier this offseason, turned a little worse this week when the decision was made to have White undergo surgery after the injury failed to heal with rest alone.
Bears GM Ryan Pace confirmed the plan on Saturday, acknowledging that a chance exists that White could miss the season. Player and team remain hopeful, however, and the plan now is to leave White on the PUP list, meaning he could return after the first six games.
On the positive side, Pace said that the calf injury suffered late this week by receiver Alshon Jeffery is “mild” and not any threat to Jeffery being available for Week 1. Jeffery will not, however, be part of any practices or next Saturday’s game with the Indianapolis Colts.
The White injury occurred sometime in the later part of OTA’s and White did not practice in the final team minicamp nor in any of the training camp sessions. The surgery will involve inserting a rod in the tibia, a procedure that Bears wide receiver/returner Marc Mariani has had performed successfully.
Surgery earlier was considered but “a lot of times these stress fractures heal on their own, so that was our plan going forward, that was our hope going forward, which is why we had him stay off of it,” Pace said. Instead the Bears restricted him to the sidelines and only allowed him to begin light running last Monday.
White suffered a “setback” this week, Pace said, and took the news on surgery hard.
“He's emotional,” Pace said. “I know he sincerely cares about this organization, about his teammates, about coach [John] Fox. It's from the bottom of his heart, and that's why, to me - and I know, this is kind of a weird time to say this - but man, I'm telling you, that guy, it's confirmed to me the type of person he is, through this process.”
The immediate hope is to fill the void from within. Undrafted rookie Cameron Meredith from Illinois State flashed in the Bears' preseason-opening victory against the Miami Dolphnis and projects to get an expanded opportunity. Mariani was elevated to the No. 1 offense vs. Miami with Jeffery out and has Jay Cutler’s confidence as a sure-handed receiver.
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“Obviously, right away, you look at your own roster,” Pace said. “There's guys that are going to have to step up and emerge and all those things are going to have to happen. We're confident with that.
“Just like all these positions, we're going to be scouring the preseason. Whether it's trade scenarios or claims, that part's actually fun as an evaluator, looking forward to that. There's some guys out here that are going to step up, and we feel confident with that.”
White began camp on the PUP list. He began light running early last week, but the pain returned, and the Bears opted that White undergo surgery.