LAKE FOREST, Ill. — Here are 10 things you need to know as the Bears were dealt a devastating blow this week:
1. Just as he started to make a significant jump forward, Kevin White’s development has been put on hold. The seventh overall pick from a year ago suffered a fibula fracture in his left leg Sunday, the same leg he suffered a tibia fracture in last year.
“You feel for (him),” Bears head coach John Fox said, admitting White was feeling down. “They put a lot of hard work into this. With a tackle or a hit, it can get taken away. So, most disappointed for him.”
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Originally diagnosed as a high ankle sprain, an MRI revealed the sprain was bad enough to cause a spiral fracture, according to Fox. A decision on whether or not surgery is needed has not been made. Either way, it’s possible White could return later this season, as each NFL team is allowed to bring one player back from injured reserve. The earliest White would be able to return is Week 13 when the Bears host the 49ers. In that best case scenario, White would be able to play the final five weeks of the season, salvaging at least half of his sophomore NFL season.
“This injury is not nearly as serious as the last one,” Fox said. “This is a completely different injury. It’s a completely different bone in the lower leg. This was the fibula — it’s the non-weight bearing bone but he does have a spiral fracture.”
According to Dr. Neil Ghodadra, a sports orthopedic surgeon based out of Beverly Hills who previously worked with both the Chicago Bulls and White Sox, fibula fractures “will heal nicely in 6-8 weeks” with or without surgery.
“The key will be doing therapy and getting that leg strength back to normal,” Dr. Ghodadra told WGN Radio.
That last part may determine whether or not White loses the rest of his second NFL season completely.
2. I don’t care who you are, no team (except maybe the Vikings) can stomach the amount of injuries the Bears have faced this year. Here’s a list of players who are out right now with significant injuries:
No. 1 quarterback Jay Cutler, thumb
No. 1 running back Jeremy Langford, high ankle sprain
No. 2 running back Ka’Deem Carey, hamstring
No. 2 wide receiver Kevin White, high ankle sprain/fractured fibula (injured reserve)
No. 4 wide receiver Marquess Wilson, broken foot (PUP)
No. 1 center Hroniss Grasu, torn ACL (injured reserve)
No. 1 nose tackle Eddie Goldman, high ankle sprain
No. 1 inside linebacker Danny Trevathan, thumb
No. 1 pass rusher Pernell McPhee, knee (PUP)
No. 2 cornerback Kyle Fuller, knee (injured reserve)
Now, if there’s any silver lining to all of this, it’s that many young players are getting valuable reps and all but two of these injured players could potentially return this season. Grasu definitely won’t return, but the Bears could bring back either White or Fuller off of injured reserve.
Last week, we saw young players like Jordan Howard, Bryce Callahan and Will Sutton play very well. If the Bears can develop some depth and then bring back guys who were previously starting, they could have a stronger team late in the season as they build toward next year.
3. Speaking of returns, it would not be surprising to see Trevathan and Carey play Sunday in Indianapolis. Trevathan was back at practice Wednesday after missing two weeks because of torn ligaments in his thumb. The injury required surgery and he would have to play with a club on his hand.
“The protection wasn’t as bulky as I thought it would be, so I think he has a chance (to play),” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said.
Meanwhile, the Bears’ roster moves this week indicate they are expecting to get Carey back. They moved Raheem Mostert to the practice squad, leaving only two healthy running backs (Howard and Joique Bell) on the active roster. Carey returned to practice Wednesday, but was limited.
4. Back in March, at the NFL owners meetings, Colts head coach Chuck Pagano made it clear that he “hated” losing Jerrell Freeman. Given how well Freeman has played through the first four weeks of the season, nothing has changed.
“Jerrell, I’ve got the utmost respect for as a ball player and more importantly as a man for how he plays this game,” Pagano said Wednesday via conference call. “He plays it the way it’s supposed to be played. Love Jerrell and have great respect for him. And we’re going to see him on Sunday and I know exactly, and our guys know exactly, what we’re going to get.”
Yet it was the Colts who decided to let Freeman walk via free agency, so why did they let him go?
“Roster mechanics are roster mechanics,” Pagano said. “There’s obviously a ton of dialogue and you’d love to keep ‘em all. But as you know, you can’t. You’re going to lose people because of that. So, again, I go back to you don’t want to lose anybody. But this is the National Football League. You’ve got a cap and you’ve got decisions to make and all that stuff.”
Freeman has downplayed this weekend’s trip to Indianapolis, but it’s human nature for him to come out with a little extra juice Sunday.
“The way it ended, uh, it’s a business, can’t take things personally,” Freeman said. “It was their decision, that the best thing for their organization was to let me walk, so it is what it is. I can’t take it personal. They’re doing what they think is right for their organization so it’s just how it goes.”
Of course, it’s worth noting that the Colts released linebacker Sio Moore Tuesday, a starter who was supposed to help fill the void left behind by Freeman.
5. Second-year receiver Cam Meredith, who will be relied on to pick up his production with White out, has snatched a couple of high passes the last few weeks and has impressed quarterback Brian Hoyer.
“I think skill-wise he’s big, he’s fast,” Hoyer said. “I think you guys have seen that the last two weeks — the one in Dallas where he went up and snatched it and even this past week, he had a good catch on one of the rollouts where he went up and grabbed it.”
Coincidentally, that pass Sunday was actually intended for Alshon Jeffery, Hoyer later admitted. Meredith said he and Jeffery were mirroring their routes at different depths and while Hoyer was actually trying to hit Jeffery (who was deeper than Meredith) Meredith used his impressive catch radius to snag the ball out of the air.
“I’m just glad it went for a first down,” Meredith said.
6. Interestingly, the Colts asked the league not to have a Week 5 bye, despite playing in London against the Jaguars last week. Pagano said he prefers the bye week in the middle of the season and the Colts’ wish was granted by the NFL even though every other team who has ever played in London had their bye after that game.
“The big thing was, when you travel over there, sleep on the way over, stay up Friday, get adjusted to London time, Greenwich Mean Time, if you will, and just the reverse coming back — get a little bit of sleep early on the plane; get up,” Pagano said. “We got in around 1 or 2 in the morning, so you can go home and get a good night’s rest. Push things back a little bit, so we didn’t bring them in Monday as early. Guys are in great shape. We’re OK.”
Colts quarterback Andrew Luck said he was already over any jet lag he experienced from the trip.
It will be interesting to see how the Colts play Sunday and the feedback they give NFL offices on the experience. If the NFL ever wants to put a team in London permanently, this kind of travel is something that team would be dealing with before and after every road trip.
7. The Bears made an outstanding roster move Wednesday, signing tight end Rory “Busta” Anderson to their practice squad. He fills the spot of fullback Paul Lasike, who was promoted back to the active roster.
8. Sunday’s trip to Indianapolis will mark the Bears’ third road trip of the season, but it will be the first time they actually wear their white road uniforms. The Texans and Cowboys both opted to wear their white uniforms at home against the Bears, so Chicago wore their home blue jerseys in those games.
9. Despite it being a battle between two 1-3 teams, FOX assigned it’s “A” broadcast team of Joe Buck, Troy Aikman and Erin Andrews to Sunday’s contest between the Bears and Colts.
10. Referee John Hussey was assigned to work the game. He is in his second year as a head official.