NFL Wire News

Too many Bears WRs running out pattern


The Sports Xchange

LAKE FOREST, Ill. — The Chicago Bears are 0-for-4 with wide receivers as veteran Eddie Royal joined three sidelined receivers Wednesday due to a hip injury.

The spate of injuries left quarterback Jay Cutler throwing to third-teamers such as Cameron Meredith, Josh Bellamy and Marc Mariani.

Coach John Fox tried to downplay the injury to Royal, saying the veteran is day-to-day. Coaches also said the same thing about Alshon Jeffery (calf strain) and Marquess Wilson (hamstring). However, Jeffery hasn’t been able to play in preseason. Wilson was injured in Saturday’s preseason win over the Indianapolis Colts.

Chicago already was without rookie first-round draft pick Kevin White due to shin surgery.

“Kevin White is not going to come back any time soon, and we’ll see about some of these other guys,” Cutler said. “That’s part of the NFL. There’s other teams out there that are dealing with the same situation we’re dealing with. We’ve just got to work with the guys we have, and I know (offensive coordinator) Adam (Gase) and the rest of the guys are going to put together a good game plan each week.”

Cutler admitted the job of getting in sync with receivers in a new offense becomes harder now.

“It makes me have to communicate with them and make sure they know exactly what they’re supposed to do, so I’ve got to be on it on my end, as well,” Cutler said. “It’s a challenge for us. Like I said, it’s a really good group of guys, so I enjoy working with them.”

–Tight end Martellus Bennett often operates minus a filter, as was the case in an interview with Chicago magazine when he seemingly criticized Cutler’s leadership skills.

“Why does everyone always assume the quarterback is the leader?” Bennett asked in the interview. “Leading the offense and leading the team are two different things. Sometimes I like Cutty, and sometimes I don’t. When I think of a leader, I think, ‘If he started a company, would guys come to work for him?’ There’s a lot of guys on our team who, if they started a business, it’d be, ‘(Bleep) you, I’m gonna go work at McDonald’s.'”

Asked if he would want to work at a business started by his quarterback, Bennett said, “There are veterans that people follow … and then you’ve got guys that lead the offense, get everyone lined up, get to your spot, do what you need to do, let’s do our plays.”

Cutler has been around Bennett enough to know not to get caught up in a swirling storm waiting to happen — especially after last season when it seemed wide receiver Brandon Marshall had plenty to say about leadership and the quarterback.

“Marty, he’s going to be an opinionated guy; it’s just kind of who he is,” Cutler said. “That’s not going to change anytime soon. Some of us agree with some of the stuff Marty says. Some of us don’t agree with some of the stuff Marty says. But Marty’s going to say it either way.”

Cutler interpreted the comment in a positive way, or at least with a positive spin.

“I’ve got a good rapport with Marty, no matter what he says,” Cutler said. “I think he was trying to say there’s different leaders in every company, and the Bears, we’re not excluded from that group.

“Coach Fox is going to lead differently than I am, and Adam Gase is going to lead differently than I am, and Marty’s going to lead a different way from the way that I do.”

–Fox didn’t necessarily think he had to have starters in place on the offensive line by the third preseason game.

He didn’t have them in place, either, as Charles Leno Jr. continued working with the first team at right tackle with Jordan Mills sometimes getting a first-team rep when Leno moved over to give some rest to Jermon Bushrod on the left side. Bushrod has battled back soreness.

“My experience has been, either through other teams or our own teams, (each preseason), it’s often not the same,” Fox said. “You can look back at the New England Patriots (last) year; they weren’t even close to their Super Bowl starting offensive line in Week 6.

“Ideally, you want your starting group to start the season and be the same as it is in the last game of the year, but very seldom does that happen.”

–The 4-3 defensive ends converted to 3-4 outside linebackers are starting to improve in their new role.

“(Willie Young) and really Lamarr Houston are both doing really well coming off of surgeries in the offseason, and I like their progress — both of them,” Fox said.

Fox saw more improvement on that front last week.

“I wasn’t quite as pleased against Miami with the overall pass rush, not just the outside guys,” Fox said. “Then I thought we progressed a week ago, and I’m anxious to see how we do against Cincinnati this week. So much of that depends on whether we’re in base defense or sub defense.

“In sub defense, it’s pretty much the same (as 4-3). They do have their hand in the dirt. It’s really first and second down, depending on how some opponents play, then it’s just on (third) down that they would be in a two-point.”

Health-wise, Fox said neither player was a question mark at this point.

NOTES: Jon Bostic is buried on the second team at inside linebacker behind Shea McClellin, who started in the 4-3. Bostic has a back injury. … Safety Ryan Mundy has not practiced this week due to a hip injury. His roster spot could be in question, as rookie Adrian Amos is taking first-team snaps.

About The Sports Xchange

Since 1987, the Sports Xchange has been the best source of information and analysis for the top professionals in the sports publishing & information business