One of the rarer forms of good news for the Bears this year is a starting player returning to the field instead of the season-long steady flow of players exiting for all or part of the 2016 campaign.
So it was with some anticipation on Wednesday when cornerback Kyle Fuller, out since knee surgery during the preseason, began to practice with the possibility of his return by this Sunday’s game against San Francisco.
Fuller was able to do individual drills and worked in on scout team vs. the Bears’ offense as well as some team sessions. The question now becomes, what’s next?
“That’s hard to predict with any injury,” said coach John Fox. “I was encouraged by what I saw today. We’re not going to put him out there if he’s not healthy enough to at least practice.
“But now getting him back in the groove, he’s been around so it’s not like he’s been away and not with us, not in meetings, not paying attention to what we’re doing. So we’ll have to see one day at a time and we’ll see how the week progresses.”
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Fuller, who’d not missed a game in his two full seasons since the Bears made him the 14th pick of the 2014 first round, was placed on injured reserve as of Sept. 27 when it became evident that he was not going to be sufficiently recovered from the August surgery to contribute.
Including Fuller, the presumptive opening-day starter at cornerback opposite Tracy Porter, the Bears finished the disappointing loss to Tennessee with 11 anticipated or actual Day 1 starters out of the lineup with either injury or suspension.
How Fuller feels after his first day of real work since August will be as telling as what he was able to do Wednesday.
“Just that he's out there moving well and looks like he can play NFL corner, which is a very hard position to play from a movement standpoint,” said defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. “I think tomorrow will be an important day to see how he feels, sometimes guys come back and the next day is more telling than today, so we'll see.