Bears WR Markus Wheaton is back: ‘I’m moving in the right direction’

Markus Wheaton is on the Bears?

As it turns out, it’s true. The former Steelers wide receiver participated in practice Thursday after missing most of training camp and all of the preseason. He had an appendectomy three days into training camp, then suffered a broken pinkie on his left hand early in his second practice back after the surgery.

For several days, Wheaton was catching Nerf footballs to protect his injured finger. “I’ve graduated to real footballs, and I actually did a little bit today with the team, and it felt good,” said Wheaton, signed by the Bears to a two-year,
$11 million contract ($6 million guaranteed).

Wheaton officially was limited in practice. It is doubtful he’ll play Sunday against the Falcons. Asked if he’s good to go, he said, “No. I’m not. I haven’t played a lot of football yet. I’m sure it’ll come quick once I start playing again.”

After missing most of training camp and the entire preseason, Bears wide receiver Markus Wheaton appears pointed in the right direction. (Nam Y. Huh/AP)

But at least he’s catching real footballs.

“[Thursday] was my first day practicing,” Wheaton said, “so I’m definitely moving in the right direction.”

Straight talk from Vic

Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio is respected for his coaching ability but admired just as much for his candor. Asked if it’s fair to expect outside linebacker Pernell McPhee to be the player he was in 2015 after injuries to both knees, Fangio was typically blunt.

“Probably not,” he said.

So what can he expect from McPhee this season?

“I don’t know,” Fangio said. “I heard from our medical training staff he’s in the best shape of his life. Then I hear that he can only play so many snaps. Take everything with a grain of salt that you hear from those people.”

Fangio did say “there is a good chance” McPhee will play against the Falcons.

Amukamara still out

Cornerback Prince Amukamara (ankle) was the only player who did not participate in practice. Wheaton and guard Kyle Long (ankle) returned on a limited basis. Rookie safety Eddie Jackson, who was limited Wednesday with a groin issue, had full participation.

Also limited were McPhee (knee), defensive end Jonathan Bullard (glute), outside linebacker Sam Acho (ankle) and cornerback Sherrick McManis (hamstring).

Fuller’s comeback

Cornerback Kyle Fuller likely will start opposite Marcus Cooper if Amukamara can’t play. Fuller, a starter in 2014 and 2015, had a strong preseason after not playing at all in 2016 following arthroscopic knee surgery.

“I thought he got better as camp went on, which was good to see,” Fangio said. “I think he was able to learn some things and mature as a player [by] watching last year.”

Follow me on Twitter @MarkPotash.

Email: mpotash@suntimes.com

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