Jerrell Freeman’s pectoral injury is as bad as the Bears feared; the inside linebacker, one of the team’s two defensive captains, was placed on injured reserve Tuesday.
Like receiver Kevin White, who was placed on IR with a broken shoulder, Freeman must wait at least eight weeks before he can return to game action. There’s no guarantee that will be an option; sources said both Freeman and the Bears were unsure if he’ll be able to play again this season.
It marked a significant blow to the front seven, which the Bears have long declared the strength of their team. Freeman started 12 games last year — he was suspended for four because of a performance-enhancing drug bust — after starting 57 of a possible 64 games in four years with the Colts.
Nick Kwiatkoski will take Freeman’s place alongside Danny Trevathan. Jonathan Anderson was promoted from the practice squad to back up the second-year player.
Freeman joins White and Cam Meredith, both receivers, on the Bears’ list of starters lost to significant during in a two-week span.
The Bears promoted wide receiver Tanner Gentry to the 53-man roster, and signed running back Joshua Rounds and receiver Mario Alford to the practice squad. Wide receiver Rueben Randle was released from IR.
Coach John Fox acknowledged Monday that Nick Kwiatkoski would take Freeman’s place.
“He’s a good athlete,” Fox said of the second-year player. “He understands our defense a lot better. He had some good games in the preseason. I know our coaching staff is very confident in him.”
Players who go on IR are eligible to return to game action after eight weeks, but each team is capped at two.
Freeman did not meet the media after Sunday’s game because the team said he was in concussion protocol. Fox detailed his pec injury Monday.