Kevin White’s rookie season ended before it began.
His sophomore year might not be much better.
The Bears placed the former No. 7 overall pick on injured reserve Wednesday after discovering a spiral fracture in his left fibula to go with a severe high ankle sprain suffered Sunday against the Lions.
Coach John Fox said the Bears first thought he merely had anankle sprain before they “looked at it even further” and discovered the break. They haven’t decided whether or not the receiver’s injury will require surgery, but an answer should come soon.
“We’re looking at the different types of treatment, how to do it,” Fox said. “Whether it’s surgery or not, getting opinions. There is an opportunity we could get him back this year, albeit later in the season.”
The Bears aren’t ready to declare White’s season lost, but he’s not guaranteed to return, either. After going on the IR, White could resume practicing after at least six weeks and playing in games after at least eight.
The Bears can only bring back one player per season from IR, though, and fellow former first-rounder Kyle Fuller, a cornerback, has been out since having arthroscopic knee surgery before the second preseason game.
White’s injury is unrelated to last year’s surgery on his left shin, Fox said, and nowhere near as serious. White had a rod inserted into his tibia in August 2015; Sunday’s injury was to a different bone, his non-weight-bearing fibula.
Either way, the injury is a blow to the receivers’ young, increasingly incomplete career, and the clarity of the Bears’ plans for the future. He and running back Jordan Howard appeared to be offensive building blocks for there-toolingBears, mired in a 1-3 start.
Deciding whether to give Alshon Jeffery an extension could depend in part on what the Bears think they have in White; when Jeffery’s franchise tag runs out this offseason, though, the Bears might not yet know.
White played his best game Sunday, catching six balls for 55 yards before walking to the locker room after being tackled in the third quarter. He was playing with emotion and confidence, maybe for the first time this season.
“Well, I think kind of saw a little more aggressiveness,” Fox said. “He kind of cut loose and played rather than thinking…”
In four games, White had 19 catches for 187 yards on 36 targets.
“Just as a football player, football awareness, catching the ball, really everywhere, he was making strides each week,” said quarterback Brian Hoyer, who encouraged White in the training room after his diagnosis.“So I know that’s disappointing for him.”
Fox said White was “obviously down” — and that might be an understatement, given that his rookie year was over before he could even play in a training camp practice.
“I’m kinda sad for Kevin,” said receiver Josh Bellamy, who figures to play behind White’s presumed replacement, Cam Meredith. “Because I wanted to see him do well this year and do his thing.”