A new outbreak taking hold across the league is wreaking havoc on NFL rosters in Week 15, while simultaneously creating opportunities for those able to dodge it.
As a result, a rookie playmaker with the Chicago Bears will make his NFL debut on Monday Night Football for the same reason the team just sent two more defensive starters to the reserve/COVID-19 list. The Bears called up rookie wide receiver Dazz Newsome on Monday, December 20 for the their divisional showdown with the Minnesota Vikings.
Bears Call up Eight From Practice Squad as Virus Depletes Depth Chart
The Bears confirmed the news that Ferrara shared on social media Monday. Listed on the team’s transaction page were seven more names, alongside Newsome’s, that Chicago has flexed to the active roster for Monday’s matchup with Minnesota: DB Thomas Graham Jr., DB Michael Joseph, DB BoPete Keyes, DL LaCale London, LB Charles Snowden, DB Dee Virgin and WR Nsimba Webster.
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Newsome will appear on football’s biggest stage under the Monday Night spotlight after spending the entirety of the year to this point as a member of the practice squad. He was selected by the Bears in the sixth round of the 2021 NFL Draft out of the University of North Carolina (UNC).
The speedy wideout, reputed also to have a possible future as a return man in the NFL, caught 126 passes for 1,702 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns over his junior and senior years at UNC combined, per Sports Reference.
It seems like Newsome may have had an inkling his opportunity was coming when he took to Twitter on Thursday, December 16 — just four days before the news of his big break dropped.
“One day you gone wake up with your dreams in your face, and you gone been did everything they say you can’t,” Newsome wrote.
Bears Defensive Backfield Suffers Two More Blows Monday
In even worse shape following the outbreak than the wide receivers group is the Bears defensive backfield.
The team also announced ahead of Monday night’s game that starting cornerback Jaylon Johnson and starting strong safety Tashaun Gipson had been added to the reserve/COVID-19 list and would both miss the game against the Vikings. The Bears’ other starting defensive backs, right cornerback Artie Johnson and free safety Eddie Jackson, landed on the virus list last week and have not been reactivated.
That means the entire starting defensive backfield for Chicago will be sidelined, replaced entirely by backups who will now be backed up entirely by practice squad players. Defensive end Akiem Hicks and inside linebacker Roquan Smith are each listed as questionable, making it possible that the Bears will have to stare down a potent Vikings offense missing more than half of their starters on defense.
In total, the Bears had sent 14 players to the virus reserve list as of Sunday, December 19, per the team’s official website. That tally makes Chicago one of the NFL teams hit worst by the most recent surge, along with the Cleveland Browns.