Yet another Bears injury has turned into more than it appeared: Cornerback Kyle Fuller was put on injured reserve Tuesday, the Sun-Times has confirmed — six weeks after Fuller had arthroscopic knee surgery that was expected to be a relatively minor “clean-out” procedure. The former first-round draft pick could be designated for return later in the season, but still will miss at least eight more weeks by being put on IR.
Fuller, drafted 14th overall by former general manager Phil Emery in 2014, became a starter in Week 3 of his rookie year, but had not performed up to his draft status since getting two interceptions in an upset of the 49ers in his second NFL game in 2014 under Marc Trestman and defensive coordinator Mel Tucker.
Fuller had two interceptions and 15 pass break-ups last season. The knee soreness apparently developed late in the season. Fuller tried to fight through it in the offseason and into training camp, but it did not improve.
Fuller was kept in Chicago when the team went to New England on Aug. 18 for three days of practice and a preseason game. He had the surgery that week — but it was not considered season-threatening. Fuller was listed as “week-to-week” by coach John Fox — which should have been a red flag right there. The Bears usually start with “day-to-day” and other indications an injury is nothing to worry about. As it will turn out, the earliest Fuller could return now is late-November — three months after the minor surgery.
According to injured reserve rules, Fuller cannot return to practice for six weeks and cannot return to the active roster for eight weeks. That means the earliest he could play in a game would be Nov. 27 against the Titans.
Fuller expressed a little dismay with the length of his recovery from the surgery but said, “You’ve got to be patient with it” and did not want to rush his return and risk suffering another injury.
“I have to do what my body tells me,” he said last week. “[My return] didn’t go as fast as I would expect it. But it is what it is.”
Second-year cornerback Jacoby Glenn, an undrafted free agent from Central Florida, has replaced Fuller in the starting lineup, with rookie Deiondre Hall also getting reps in Fuller’s place. The two were able replacements for Fuller through the first two games of the regular season. Glenn (four) and Hall (two) combined for six pass break-ups against the Texans and Eagles.
But Glenn struggled in pass coverage in a 31-17 loss to the Cowboys on Sunday night, and Hall did not play on defense.
Unfortunately for the Bears, an injury that appears to be minor and becomes major is not that unusual. Rookie wide receiver Kevin White suffered a shin injury in OTAs last year that became a stress fracture that landed him on the PUP (physically unable to perform) list in training camp and eventually required surgery that put him out for his rookie season.
Linebacker Pernell McPhee tried to play through knee soreness in the second half of last season, then had offseason arthroscopic surgery and missed the offseason program, training camp and the offseason. He was put on the PUP list to start the season — the earliest he can return is Oct. 20 against the Packers.