According to a recent Tweet by 670 The Score’s Chris Emma, Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy says the odds of rookie wide receiver Riley Ridley playing in Thursday’s first preseason game against Carolina are “50-50”.
Ridley injured his hamstring after the Bears’ first practice this year and made his return during yesterday’s practice. Ridley was considered by many to be one of the biggest steals in this year’s NFL draft, and many thought he could make an impact on the Bears offense right away. His recent hamstring injury has put a damper on his start with the Bears, but, per Emma’s Tweet, Nagy also noted that Ridley has been working extremely hard on a daily basis to get back on the field.
What it Means for Bears’ Wide Receivers
Should Ridley not be on the field Thursday, it could provide other Bears wideouts–specifically Javon Wims, Tanner Gentry, and Taquan Mizzell Sr.–an opportunity to stand out and showcase their abilities. Wims and Gentry, specifically, have been standouts:
Tanner Gentry has had multiple standout preseasons for the Bears before, and NBC Sports Chicago suggested that Wims has already gotten a leg up in the wide receiver battle so far this preseason. In a league and on a team as competitive as this, Ridley’s injury could have a slight impact on the team going forward.
There’s no mystery as to whether Ridley is going to make the roster; he’s pretty much a lock. But considering his youth, every rep counts, as does every opportunity for improvement. Along with David Montgomery, Ridley was one of the highlights of the Bears draft class, and Montgomery is off to an incredible start thus far in preseason. Still, Ridley’s slow start isn’t necessarily indicative of what’s to come. A look at Ridley’s highlight reel from Georgia should help increase the patience level of Bears fans:
How it Relates to the Bears’ Tight Ends
Nagy seems confident in Ridley, his attitude, and his abilities, and Ridley’s hamstring injury isn’t considered to be serious. But considering the Bears recent issues keeping their tight ends healthy, having one or more of their ample wide receiving corps sidelined by injury is less than ideal for a team whose recent success has largely been due to their uncharacteristically good health.
If the Bears want to maintain and build on their success from last season, they have to stay healthy, and Ridley has been one of their key offseason acquisitions. They might not need him yet–but they may need him later on in the season, and he’s one more weapon for Mitch Trubisky to rely on in his ever-growing arsenal. There is a good deal of buzz surrounding Nagy’s offense going into his second season with the team. Having a healthy young wideout with established route running skills and proven grit should add more depth to the offense this season, especially when the head coach is praising his adjustments to a surely complicated playbook. Whether Riley plays this Thursday against Carolina or not, the Bears will need him healthy later on, so look for Nagy to exercise caution, as he has in the past.
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