One thing that coach John Fox has held to as part of his mission statement coming in as Bears head coach has been getting not only players with talent, but also ones with a football mindset to be part of an all-in, team-first culture overhaul. Talent was not enough for Fox and the Bears to want Martellus Bennett, Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall and others around going forward.
Whether Kyle Fuller fits into the Fox player template now is a question of some significance.
Even a glaring need at cornerback may not be enough for the Bears to want Fuller back next season as the former first-round draft pick (2014) continues, four months after knee surgery never described as serious, to stay off the field at a time when teammates have been in need of any quality help they can find.
The choice to stay out now appears to be Fuller’s.
“Any time a guy’s hurt, there’s three stages to getting back to the field,” said defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. “One is you’ve got to get medical clearance. Two, the player’s got to say he’s ready to go and feels confident and he’s champing at the bit to go play. And then the coaches get involved and see if he’s better than what the other choices are and if he really is back to being able to play.
“A has happened. B hasn’t, so C is a non-issue.”
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The Bears held the door open for Fuller, designating him as the one player allowed to be brought back from injured reserve onto the active roster. Fuller was designated as that player rather than wide receiver Kevin White and could have returned as long ago as the Nov. 27 game against the Tennessee Titans.
But the weekly Fuller watch has taken on a deeper question about his future, particularly if coaches are in question about his desire to play.
A decision regarding his return still has not reached the coaches.
“I don't try to get into the medical part, until they're medically cleared and until the player's ready to go and says he's ready,” Fangio said. “Then I try and put my two cents in. Until then I try not to think too much about it.”