The Bears just couldn’t make it through the week without another starter getting hurt.
Three-quarters of the way through practice Thursday, receiver Markus Wheaton — nominally, the Bears’ top receiver with Cam Meredith out for the season and Kevin White on injured reserve — suffered a tear in his groin running a route, a league source said. He’ll miss at least the next month.
Coach John Fox wouldn’t be as specific Friday, but he admitted the injury was “a little bit more extensive than we originally thought” immediately after practice Thursday, when he reported the Bears got through the day healthy.
Of course it was.
Wheaton joins outside linebacker Willie Young (torn triceps), inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman (torn pec), safety Quintin Demps (broken forearm), Meredith (torn anterior cruciate ligament) and White (broken shoulder) on the team’s list of injured starters.
Two replacement starters at inside linebacker are hurt, too: John Timu (knee, ankle) is out for the game Sunday in Baltimore, and Nick Kwiatkoski (pec) is questionable. Hroniss Grasu, who started one game at center, is questionable with a hand injury.
“It’s part of the game,” Fox said. “I think many teams in the league are dealing with it. Our opponent this week is dealing with it.”
The Ravens have lost the most man games to injury in the NFL this season: 56, according to the injury tracker mangameslost.com. Second in the NFL: the Bears at 50.
By comparison, the Falcons have a league-low seven, according to the website.
Like the Bears — who had the third-worst injury rate last year, according to the site — the Ravens have tweaked their workout schedule to find a “sweet spot” between work and injury risk, coach John Harbaugh said.
“We feel like you can kinda get a gauge on the soft-tissue things a little bit,” he said this week. “We’ve actually done very well with the soft-tissue injuries. We’ve had very few of those. It’s the other ones that hit us this year.
“I think the Bears, too, whether it’s the knees, the ACLs, the medial collaterals or something like that. Or shoulders. Those are the things that are real hard to define.”
Taking the quality of the players lost into account, the website ranks the Ravens the third-most affected in the league and the Bears sixth.
Fox said he doesn’t look at himself being more unlucky than the next guy. Does Harbaugh ever shake his first at the sky?
“That would be fruitless,” the ever-upbeat Ravens coach said this week. “Who does that?”
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