Injuries should prompt Bears to explore adding WRs, CBs
Two and a half weeks away from the season opener against the 49ers, the Bears have more than a depleted receivers room. They have a full-blown problem.
The following is a comprehensive list of healthy Bears receivers who caught at least one pass in an NFL game last season: Darnell Mooney, Equanimeous St. Brown, Dante Pettis and . . .
Actually, that’s it. That’s the list.
With the season opener against the 49ers 2 weeks away, the Bears have more than a depleted receiver room. They have a full-blown problem.
Byron Pringle has a quad injury and hasn’t practiced in almost three weeks. N’Keal Harry’s high-ankle sprain prompted surgery that likely will keep him out until October. Tajae Sharpe hasn’t practiced since his standout performance in the Bears’ preseason opener Aug. 13. Rookie Velus Jones played in the preseason game last Thursday against the Seahawks but has missed practice time with an injury before and since.
Dazz Newsome, who caught two passes for the Bears last season, was so inconsistent in training camp that the team cut him Monday.
The Bears will keep six or seven receivers when they cut their roster down to 53 players Tuesday. With so many question marks — because of injuries, inexperience and a lack of past success — it would be shocking if they didn’t add receivers cut loose by other teams next week. Those receivers likely would bounce to the Bears off the waiver wire, but it’s fair to wonder whether general manager Ryan Poles will consider trading for one.
Unlike predecessor Ryan Pace, Poles is saving his draft assets — and salary allocations — for a season in which the Bears will be closer to contending for the playoffs. But Poles knows nothing is more important than putting quarterback Justin Fields in the best position to succeed this season.
By the end of the season — and it’s really that urgent, as the Bears likely will have a high draft pick and the opportunity to consider other quarterbacks — they need to know whether Fields is their future. Can they do that if he’s throwing to the current group of receivers? The injuries to Pringle and Jones, whom the Bears have said will be ready for the start of the season, have obliterated what little depth they had.
St. Brown said he thinks the Bears already have enough talent in-house, even with the injuries.
‘‘Of course,’’ he said. ‘‘I think we’ve got enough with our whole team. Everyone’s a professional, everyone’s in the NFL and they get paid to do what they do. Injuries are a part of the game. . . . People get injured and go down, and the next person has to be ready and has to know what they’re doing.’’
Getting a next-man-up speech in August is never a good sign. But it applies to more than one Bears position group.
Below is a comprehensive list of healthy Bears cornerbacks who played a defensive snap in the NFL last season: Jaylon Johnson, Kindle Vildor, Duke Shelley and Devontae Harris.
Second-year cornerback Thomas Graham hasn’t practiced all camp because of a hamstring problem, and veteran Tavon Young — who at one point in his career was the highest-paid slot cornerback in the NFL — has missed most of the month with a lower-leg problem.
The Bears haven’t been able to evaluate either player in their defensive scheme — at least without squinting. How they’ll decide whether to keep them on the roster is an even bigger issue.
‘‘I think those decisions will be with the scouting-department side,’’ defensive backs coach James Rowe said this week. ‘‘I don’t really make the roster decisions as much. But I like both of them as players.’’
Young spent most of his time in camp training in water, coach Matt Eberflus said, before working his way up to land last week.
‘‘He’s been in the pool a lot,’’ Eberflus said.
Next week, Poles should be, too. He needs to take a deep dive into the NFL’s talent pool. What he has right now won’t work.